The Blue Iguana (aka Grand Cayman Iguana) is unique to the Cayman Islands.
I took this picture at the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Garden last year.
They can reach up to 6 feet in length and live for 60+ years. In 2003 they were nearly extinct when a survey counted only 15 of them on the island. Since that time programs have been established by several agencies to bring the Blue Iguana back from the edge of extinction. Captive programs and protected habitat development (although limited) brought the population up to approximately 750 of them in 2012 -but their status in the wild is still pretty shaky.
In 2005, fifteen iguana statues were commissioned and given to local artists to paint. Then the statues were placed in various locations around the entire island. I’ve seen several of them in locations that we frequent, but it has long been my ambition to track them all down. Last week I finally had someone visiting (Jo) who wanted to take the “circle island tour” and was willing to put up with some extra stops along the way. The “circle the island tour” is pretty much only done these days on behalf of visitors who’d like to go -so it was just the excuse I needed to go iguana hunting. Even better, Jo loved the idea of finding them too.
We found 12 of the 15. Of the three we missed, I think one is being refurbished and the other two were in parts of the island I wasn’t familiar enough with to pinpoint the locations that were given. The Blue Dragon Trail Maps are as vague as a pirate treasure map when it comes to finding the exact locations. Happily, I knew where about 10 of them were already. A bit of googling solved the location mystery for a couple more. The locations given for the two we didn’t find were somewhat general, so I had thought they would be fairly easy to track down. Famous last thoughts!
Before it was over, we ended up taking a few days to photograph the ones we did find. My priority was to find the ones that were furthest away from my side of the island and many of those are located on the “circle the island” tour.
Our tour officially started just south of Georgetown following South Sound Road. Our first “capture” was named Hamish and he was located at Dart Family Park, which isn’t far from town at all. In fact, while we were there, I noticed that the submarine was on the surface just offshore of the park. It was that sighting that alerted Jo to the fact that there was a possibility of a submarine experience.
A very short drive beyond Dart Family Park is a pretty little beach called Smith Cove, which was our second stop for the day. Mike and I have been there before to try the snorkeling and hang out, but it is a bit of a drive so we don’t go there often. The iguana sculpture there is called Betsy The Tourist. Evidently Betsy is an “iguana gone wild” because when we arrived she had a pair of panties on her head. We restored her dignity and removed them before taking her photo.
After Betsy was “caught and released”, we continued on our way around the island. Our next stop was the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Garden. Luckily the iguana there is just outside of the ticket office.
The botanical garden is located in the middle of the island along a road that connects the south side to the north side. The next logical direction from there would be to head to Rum Point, with a stop on the way at Jarold Smith Park which is in a slightly off the beaten path area on the North side called Hutland.
Sonatina is the name of the lucky iguana that is installed at Rum Point. Rum Point is a lovely “party beach” located at the far tip of the fatter part of the island.
There is a bit of backtracking that needs to be done when you leave Rum Point to either return to the Western side of the island or continue around the East side of the island. We scooted back to the turn-off that would lead us to the road that follows the North coast of the island -heading East. We stumbled upon a bonus iguana score. Someone is developing a concrete sculpture garden and we stopped and took a few pictures.
Our next iguana destination was at the public beach at East End. Sounds easy right? How many public beaches can there be at East End? We saw signs for a few beaches in the approximate area we thought the iguana would be in -but we never quite pinpointed it. A swing and a miss!
However, oddly, we managed to find Capt. George Dixon Park on the side of the road.
And just inside, in a shady spot we found “The Rock”
Our next “miss” was in Bodden Town. When you drive around the island you go through Bodden Town going both ways. On our first trip through we’d asked a guy at a gift shop if he knew where the iguana was and he didn’t have a clue. We figured we’d find it on our way back. Nope. I was convinced it was at a beach, but when we got back and I looked at my notes, I realized it was in a town park instead. We did pass a park and almost stopped… but didn’t.
In the next few days we performed a “sweep” to find the last few iguanas that were located more in my neck of the woods. One morning, we rode the bikes to a lovely park about 3 miles away to find “People In The Wild”.
There are two iguanas in downtown Georgetown. The location of “Arti” is in front of the post office. I am not very familiar with downtown much beyond the area along the harbor. It was a bit of luck that we stumbled upon Arti relatively quickly as we wandered through the streets. Arti sits on a little grassy island in the middle of the road.
The other iguana, “Blu” was listed as being located at the Butterfield Bank. The bank is marked on the road maps, so I knew it was a few blocks away from the post office. But, as we were walking across the street we saw an iguana where an iguana shouldn’t be! We walked into a store and the sales lady told us that Butterfield Bank had been relocated. Evidently Butterfield left no forwarding address for the iguana!
“Missing in Action” is installed outside of the National Gallery.
The National Gallery is just down the street from Camana Bay, which is a development that combines shopping, entertainment and residences. Since we were right there, we went to walk through Camana Bay and see if we could find the iguana there. On a whim, I consulted the “You Are Here” map of the complex and they had a picture of an iguana on the map! There are boat docks out behind Camana Bay and after a boat ties up, their walk to the mainland takes them across a medium island with benches and hammocks and then on across a walkway over the water to reach land.
I’ve always thought the island was simply decorative and I don’t think I’ve ever gone exploring out there.
Until now. Turns out that based on the map, “Poof The Magic Dragon” was installed out there.
No word on what happened to his life preserver.
Our Blue Dragon Trail was almost at an end. We had two more stops: The West Bay Public Beach and Governor’s Beach. One of the days we tried to stop at Governor’s (where Mike and I go often) was thwarted because it was the weekend and there were cars parked everywhere -almost on top of the poor iguana!
At long last, we stopped at Governor’s Beach on a quiet day and found that “Shalom” was ready for his close-up.
West Bay Public Beach is undergoing a big remodeling. Due to the neighboring property owner convincing the government to re-route the beach front road behind his property (thus giving him beachfront property!) the Public Beach benefitted too and there is a lot of work going on there. We could not find the iguana there. I knew where it used to be, but it is gone. We assume it is being refurbished and will be reinstalled when the beach work is finished.
It was fun to search out and photograph all of the iguanas that we were able to find. I’m still gunning for the two that got away. Some friends are arriving for a visit who haven’t seen the island -so I’m going to say to them… “Hey, have you heard about the Blue Dragon Trail?”
Categories: Cayman Islands 2014
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