Klein Curaçao

We are currently anchored in Spanish Waters, Curaçao. We just returned from a lovely 3 day stay in Klein Curaçao, a small, uninhabited island composed of exposed and eroded coral.

Just recently, we saw flamingos flying and while en route and while staying on Klein Curaçao, we saw flocks of greater and greater size flying toward Bonaire. If you have never seen one flying they look like a long stick with some bright pink fabric fluffing towards the middle. We have seen flamingos on all of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao)

Upon our arrival, Duhkxy was beside himself when he saw the beautiful expanse of white sand beach. After racing back and forth on the beach, he set to digging up ghost crabs. He rarely injures a crab as his intent is only to whisk them onto the sand so he can chase them to the water.

Duhxky will dig sometimes until nothing but his back legs stick out from the hole
Referred to as ghost crabs, they are perfectly camouflaged for their habitat

This ghost crab sat perfectly still and Duhkxy quickly lost interest.

During the day, the uninhabited island is visited by vessels ferrying people from cruise ships and resorts for a day of snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing, drinking and eating in this idyllic setting. Come around 4:00 or thereabout and the vessels all depart for Curaçao. Other than a couple of caretakers, visitors with overnight passes have the island to themselves. As one tour boat prepared to leave, the captain asked if we would like some pasta salads they had leftover from their lunch. Never to turn down a free meal we said “Sure” and he returned with large portions of two pasta salads; one of ziti, pesto and arugula; a second of couscous, beets, and a minty dressing – both quite lovely. He also supplied us with a massive amount of barbecued chicken skewers and spare ribs. What a treat – a gorgeous island to ourselves and, delicious food and no need to cook for several days!!!

We used our Hookah, that delivers air to about 20 feet to explore underwater. Like scuba diving, the Hookah allows you remain underwater slowly taking in the details.

Green Sea Turtle
Tube Sponge
Rope sponge
One of a small school of Permit following in the wake of a ray to capture food thrown up from the bottom
Flamingo Tongue – a mollusk often found on sea fans and in this instance a type of feather star (crinoid). This Flamingo Tongue has only part of its soft body extruded over its shell.
Sargent Major (damselfish)
Likely a sea plume
Giant Anemone
Lionfish (invasive and dangerous predator for reef fish – often divers requested or given permission to kill whenever possible)
Three-rowed Sea Cucumber
Tube sponge
Christmas Tree Worm (will quickly disappear into its calcareous tube if disturbed)
Spotfin Butterfly Fish
Ocean Surgeonfish
Conger Eel – Brown Garden Eel. Found in colonies. Extremely “shy” and disappear into sand burrow if approached
French Angelfish
Yellowline Arrow Crab
Grooved Brain Coral with burrowing Christmas Tree tube worms

We walked the perimeter of the island along the white sand beach and round the “back side” with crashing waves and sea wrecks.

Sadly the winds and waves carried masses and masses of flotsam (debris carried in from near and far). It would take scores of people scores of days just to pick up the large litter and within a few years you would likely not see a great difference. I am certainly not advocating for NOT picking it up. George and I always choose at least one shoreline to clean, but this was far beyond our capabilities if we spent months here.

To give an idea of how far this litter can travel until it meets a shoreline, George and I found 5 hamburger beans that floated all the way from Africa.

Hamberger Bean

We visited the lighthouse that is operational, but no longer inhabited.

Between the coasts the coral rock supports an array of plant species with a palette of oranges, greens and browns, as well as lizards and hermit crabs.

We enjoyed sun-filled days and periodic squalls, as is characteristic in these islands in January.

and one of the most beautiful sunsets ever

We look forward to visiting the island again with our daughter Allison, her husband Mike, and their children Riley and Tristan in February.

Update – Sea Turtle Rescue – 22 December 2022

Sadly, the injured turtle we were able to hand off to members of a Curaçao conservation team could not be saved. They also confirmed our suspicion that her injuries were definitively characteristic of an engine propeller wound. Watercraft-rated injuries and deaths of sea and fresh water turtles are not uncommon and correlate with the number of registered craft in an area. Studies of stranded sea turtles indicate that as much as a third of the turtles had been injured from an encounter with a vessel. The overall incidence is likely much higher as many die in the water https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jwmg.21665

Sea Turtle Rescue

Mid-morning, while relaxing in our cockpit with steaming hot tea, George spotted a turtle. It doesn’t matter how often you see them, it is always a treat.

Mural in Curaçao capturing the charm and our fascination with sea turtles

In this case, unfortunately, it did not take long to see the turtle had some serious damage to its shell and appeared to be lifeless.  The turtle shell bobbed along, being propelled by the current, waves, and wind for half an hour, or so.

At times I saw a flipper above the water.  Each time I hoped perhaps it was still alive, but the flipper would fall back and again, and all that was visible above the water was it’s damaged shell.

Then, just for a moment, I thought I spotted “her” raise her head.  I kept watching and was certain of what I saw the second time. She was breathing.  George and I quickly hopped in the dinghy and slowly approached her.  As we neared, she left no doubt that she was alive, albeit very weak, as she attempted to dive below the water to distance herself from us.

Approaching a boat anchored beside us, we asked if they knew if there was an animal rescue center on the Island.  Jimmie and Judy on Poppycock responded that they didn’t, but did offer there was a large aquarium.  A quick Google search later we found a phone number and a gentleman from the aquarium took our phone number and offered to connect us with a wildlife conservation team.

The turtle was now drifting closer to shore and we feared she would be pushed by waves into the rocks along the shore.  George approached her again in the dinghy and successfully guided her further out.  Shortly afterward, we lost sight of her and, although George searched very carefully for her, she appeared to be gone.

It had been about an hour since we saw her last when a member of the conservation team called and advised us that it could be several hours before they could get out to our boat.  George was just explaining that we had not seen her for at least an hour when there she was again.

The conservation team member let us know they could come immediately if we could capture the turtle and bring her to shore. Concern that we would lose her again encouraged us to try to catch her.  We knew the dinghy engine would spook her so George agreed to attempt to paddle to her.  If we could get close enough to her, I would try to catch her in our fishing net.

IT WORKED!  She was a big turtle but we managed to get her in the dinghy. The only issue now was that the wind and tide was pushing us further and further from our sailboat, Ice Floe. Under the best of circumstances it is difficult to paddle the dinghy, we could not get there against the wind. in our haste, we had forgotten to get the dinghy engine key.

Her shell was very badly damaged and her right front flipper was torn on the underside
She offered no resistance

I hailed a boat nearby and a man approached us to offer assistance just as George remembered he had had hidden a spare key for the dinghy engine. Felt a bit foolish, especially as George has been quizzing me repeatedly over the last week to make sure I remember where he had hidden the key.

George wet a towel and draped it over her and we brought her to shore. The rescue team told him that was exactly the thing to do (he always knows what’s best)

This marvelous turtle is now in the hands of a vet and members of the conservation team.  They said they will keep us apprised of how she does.  We’ll let you know.