South Caicos Appeal
© Antti Lipponen

Help support the families of South Caicos devastated by the hurricanes

Date posted: 23 December 2017

Turks and Caicos suffered catastrophic damage after two hurricanes hit the islands last September. Here’s how MCS is helping rebuild local communities.

BW South Caicos debris
© Marian Jayne

On September 7th 2017, the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) received a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, a category five hurricane of record-breaking fury. The islands suffered catastrophic damage, with communities enduring 185 mph winds throughout the night.

All families suffered significant damage to their homes. Two weeks later, while the Islanders were still on their knees, Hurricane Maria passed close by, adding to the misery and heartache. While this crisis response continues, we at MCS are acutely aware of the loss and devastation caused specifically to the community of people we work closely with on South Caicos and we are raising funds for them.

We’ve worked with the fishermen and Government of TCI since 2002, and set up the collaborative TCI Turtle Project in 2008. Together we carried out ground-breaking research that has helped change fishing laws that came into force in 2014. We have continued our work in South Caicos ever since, finding out more about TCI’s turtles through our satellite tracking research and pioneering nature-based tourism with some of the fishers there.

But recovering from natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Maria takes time, resources and lots of support. Our friends in the Turks and Caicos Islands need that support right now. We want to help fishermen like Gilbert Jennings and Dave Clare, and their wider community, rebuild their lives.

We want to help them continue to develop their nature-tourism business. Through our work in South Caicos, we know that other fishers would like to explore this option, too, and diversifying fishers’ livelihoods will help them become more resilient to future extreme weather events.

Tourism is the fastest growing sector in TCI. Fishermen know that sustainable tourism represents a potential new way to make a living and reduce pressure on wild stocks, and Gilbert and Dave have shown them it can be done. Through our work they have partnered with the Amanyara Resort on Provo (who have also funded several of our satellite tags), providing an unforgettable experience for guests in seeing the wildlife of the islands.

Neighbouring East Caicos is one of the largest uninhabited islands in the Caribbean, with pristine terrestrial and marine ecosystems, endemic species found nowhere else on Earth, and important feeding and nesting habitats for green and hawksbill turtles, and a whole host of birds.

East Caicos is a huge, untapped tourism asset, and as tourism is set to grow in South, there is an urgent need to make sure that any tourism on East Caicos is sensitive to the unique biodiversity found there. We want to work with Gilbert, Dave and other South Caicos fishers to help them develop a world-class nature tourism offering, that generates new value in the preservation of East Caicos, one of the region’s last pristine islands.

We’ve worked closely with the South Caicos fishing community for more than fifteen years. Together, we’ve made enormous progress towards securing a future for the island’s turtle populations – having worked with fishers to design new fishing laws, studied turtles with cutting-edge research and pioneered nature-tourism in South Caicos to provide livelihoods that help protect the islands’ turtles. We couldn’t have done this without the typically warm South Caicos welcome, and years of support, commitment and co-operation of people like Gilbert and Dave.

Now, they need our help. Help us support the community of South Caicos devastated by the hurricanes here.

Actions you can take

  1. Donate now
  2. Adopt a turtle and support research and conservation projects

Did you know?…

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles

The eye of Irma passed over South Caicos damaging or destroying about 80% of the homes there.

UK Turtle Code

Advice for sea users on how to deal with marine turtle encounters

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