The National Parks of The Bahamas

Conception Island National Park

Established: 1964 
Location: North of Rum Cay
Size: 30,000 Acres 

An important sanctuary for migratory birds, sea birds and green turtles. It also has great historical importance being one of the islands in the Bahamas on which Christopher Columbus was known to have landed.













Established: 1964 
Location: North of Rum Cay
Size: 30,000 Acres 

Description 
Conception Island National Park was established on August 10, 1964. Which only protected the island itself. This park was expanded in 2011 to include much of the surrounding marine environment. Conception has one of the healthiest ecosystems in the Bahamas and is a major destination for yachts, dive boats, and research vessels.

Conception Island may be the loveliest island in the Bahamas. The uninhabited island is located on a platform that rises out of the deep ocean 15 miles east of Santa Maria, Long Island. The island has miles of pink sand beaches, gorgeous sandstone cliffs, and an extraordinary abundance of wildlife on the land and in the sea. There are numerous locations for spectacular scuba diving and snorkeling.

The main island, Booby Cays, and South Rocks are home to an extraordinary number of wildlife species, many of which are threatened or endangered. Long tail tropic birds, sooty terns, oyster catchers, and osprey nest on the island and cays. The center of the island is a large mangrove and creek habitat and an important nursery for fish, sharks, conch, and crawfish. Green turtles forage in the creek, off the southwestern shore, and in the northern bay. The coral reefs and grass flats in the surrounding sea are unusually healthy and are home to an abundance of sea life.



History 
Conception Island also has great historical significance as one of the first landfalls of Columbus in the New World. 

The ruins of five buildings are located between West Bay and the mouth of the creek on a hill overlooking Long Island. The ruins are constructed of native mortar, limestone, and shells. These buildings housed a small settlement of people who probably lived on the island in the early 1900s. Very little is known about this settlement. There could not have been much farming, but there would have been sufficient fresh water and sea life, plus turtle and bird eggs, to sustain a few families. 

In 1969 the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) had the well on Conception Island excavated and cemented to provide a source of water. The well is located on the western side of the island, approximately half a mile north of creek entrance. The sides of the well are raised above ground level to prevent sand filling the well during rains and a sloped approached makes it easily accessible to birds. This well has been used for many years by fishermen, but prior to the work of the BNT it always filled with sand and had to be cleaned out on each visit, so it was of little use to birdlife. Initially the Bahamas National Trust was granted a two year lease for Conception Island in July 1st, 1971. The Government explained that the lease would be extended in perpetuity pending a review of the Bahamas National Trust Act, 1959 in order to make it as beneficial as possible to the entire Commonwealth of the Bahama Islands and more effective for the purposed for which it was intended- by introducing, among others, provisions in the act for the protection of the flora and fauna within park areas set aside for conservation, wildlife reserves, parks, etc. 

Conception Creek
This creek is part of a magnificent mangrove system. The only opening is about 2/3 of the way south on the western shore. The channel into the creek changes with the shifting sand bars, and the entrance can become untenable in westerly winds and swells, so mariners should approach with caution. The tide follows Nassau by about an hour and a half.

Near high tide the navigable water for dinghies runs about a mile into the mangrove flats, and there are several arms off the main channel. Take your time and bring a camera. A drift dive out of the creek at the beginning of the ebb is a beautiful experience.

There is a speed limit of 4 knots inside the creek, and visitors are asked not to harass the turtles or other wildlife. 




Importance to Biodiversity 
Birdlife: Audubon’s Shearwaters, White-tailed Tropicbirds, Sooty terns, Bridled terns, and Brown noddies nest on the island and its offshore rocks. Alexander Sprunt, Past Vice President of Research for the Audubon Society believes that Conception Island has the largest concentration of nesting tropicbirds in The Bahamas and that Booby Cay off the northwest corner of Conception Island is one of the largest Sooty tern and Brown noddy colonies. 

Green Turtle: The Island is also an important breeding site for the Green Turtle. These along with the Hawksbill turtles are common in the interior lagoon.


Links to the Image Gallery will be provided here

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