Sighting of the World’s Rarest Snake at Maria Islands

Sighting of the World’s Rarest Snake at Maria Islands

Press Release: On an island which relaxes the mind, with birds chirping, anoles and whiptails scurrying over leaf litter; Maria Islands Nature Reserve is home to five endemic reptiles including the elusive Saint Lucia Racer.

Date: March 28, 2017, weather: a bit overcast and sunny with heavy showers in the wee hours of the morning.  Task at hand- Biosecurity monitoring on Maria Major – it’s absolutely critical we keep those non-native predators off the island!

 A three person team set out to bait 12 stations and carry out surveillance for those predators by walking transect lines.

Transects lines are done by walking from station to station and keeping an eye out for predators and reptiles within a 5 feet radius; the findings are recorded on animal observation data sheets.  

On-board today, Lanson Paul and Saphira Hunt of the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) along with Mathurin James of the Department of Forestry (DOF).  One man short, the team split in two leaving me, dubbed (not by me!) Mademoiselle Snake-Whisperer, to work the tour trail and bait stations in the surrounding areas, while Mathurin and Lanson set out on a mission to bait the farther end of the island.

We use bait in stations (boxes that encourage rats to enter if rats are present – which they aren’t, touch wood) as a way of detecting any invasions.

Maria Major had a quietness I couldn’t place (maybe because I was alone in this tranquil place).  There was something calming about being on the island at 9:00am working alone.  I carried on with my task and walking transects.

Having done stations #6 and #3, I walked my next transect to station #1.  Keeping my eyes peeled to the ground for any Saint Lucia Whiptail sightings, as I was in the area where they are most abundant on the tour trail.

With bait station #1 now in sight I did a final check before ending the transect, and there I spotted a greyish colored Saint Lucia Racer scurrying away from me.  Down on my knees I crawled beneath the hedge along the trail with hope of capturing my elusive friend.  They are gentle reptiles that don’t bite and are not poisonous, so I wasn’t worried.

True to its name the racer got away from me trops vit, speeding under the leaf litter and out of sight.  Being “the world’s rarest snake”, it’s understandable they’re nervous.  Having remained quiet for 10 minutes, I was hoping my friend would resurface. But, with no luck, I continued with servicing station #1.

Under the canopy, I went to access the remaining bait stations.  Station #2 done and onwards to #4.  On that transect I spotted five Saint Lucia Anoles; about to record them on the data sheet and Voila! Another Racer racing by- this one brownish in color and bigger than the first.  

The kit I was carrying goes crashing to the ground as I gave chase through a jungle of vines, slippery leaf litter and small trees.  The Racer again was victorious in this 100 meter dash.  Still I am elated two Racers – the Worlds’ rarest snake – in a mere 10 minutes; talk about luck!

Added to these two sightings this year, another racer was caught on March 16, 2017.  Lanson Paul, playing the role of Tour Guide for a two-person tour to the island, returned to Maria Major’s beach after the hike. On the beach they found Richie Robert, the boatman, resting in one of the small caves by the shore. A plump rock gecko suddenly races past Richie sporting the stub of a freshly missing tail, and a juvenile Racer hot in pursuit.  

Three Racer sightings in two weeks; what a treat!  They say a black cat crossing your path is good luck; but give me a Racer any day.

More news from Saint Lucia’s offshore islands next time…

Related Articles

41 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 10:41 am Reply

    Oh what a poem. Was there a Derek Walcott influence? Voila! Teo Khing will make good use of it for the up coming “VFort Foundation”

    1. Wink
      April 8, 2017 at 2:27 pm Reply

      Lol. I stopped reading after the first paragraph

      1. Observer
        April 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm Reply

        Omg
        Yes me to…

  2. MetKai
    April 8, 2017 at 11:19 am Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece

  3. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 11:59 am Reply

    Anthea 33 sea front.

    Very well saphira..great job

  4. Observer
    April 8, 2017 at 12:30 pm Reply

    Thought I was reading a novel….

  5. 666
    April 8, 2017 at 12:45 pm Reply

    ….and Allen wants to destroy their home!

  6. greta
    April 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm Reply

    Politics.

  7. Whatever...
    April 8, 2017 at 1:19 pm Reply

    You mean they were not there before? Hmmm

  8. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm Reply

    Is time to get rid of the serpent…. un less u with eat it…. foolish people no Jobs …. and u people talking about snakes choops… kill and eat foolish people…

  9. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 1:44 pm Reply

    Foolish people eat the snake

  10. Anderson Reynolds
    April 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm Reply

    nice read, got me excited

  11. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 2:08 pm Reply

    Great narrative!
    Reading this excited me, to the point of envying a personal experience
    Long Live the Racer and Long Live the Maria Islands – untouched!

  12. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm Reply

    When Maria island is join to the main land main land more species of animals will be added such as the African snail and the human being. Tourists will come from all over the world to see a st.lucian cohabiting with an African snail. Good foreign investment.

  13. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm Reply

    UPDATE. It is alleged that some of the world’s rarest stray dogs are in castries. Therefore, castries may be separated from the main land St. Lucia.

    1. Anonymous
      April 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm Reply

      ROFL

  14. Lol lol
    April 8, 2017 at 3:13 pm Reply

    Lol lol lol

  15. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 5:04 pm Reply

    Please, Please Please Stop trying to make a pappyshow of the serious nature of preserving Maria Island.”(RARE} sighting of the world’s rarest snake on Meria Isdand” What are you insinuating? Tthis is the only place on earth where they exist and the only place where you can see them Not a rarety. we just have to presereve their Habitat.

  16. Mr man
    April 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm Reply

    Precisely why we need to preserve this land mark and protect what we have from being taken away from us. We are special to be graced with some of the rarest species of animals on earth, and we want to just give that away?. Come on ppl, some things are just priceless

  17. viewer
    April 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm Reply

    This is the only place on earth where this species is extant, and keeping people off maria islet is definitively essential to the snake’s survival…what agitates me is that st.lucians are not permitted to step foot on this placid island,but some foreign investor has all the right to do as he please…do y’all think that this is ethical?

    1. Anonymous
      April 10, 2017 at 7:36 am Reply

      Did u not read the Nancy drew exerpt about her visit to the island? What do u mean locals are not permitted there?! Just goes to show how nonchalant we were about the island and its inhabitants but suddenly we have the most nature preservation enthusiasts. Lol. Bunch of clowns. Amusing at best.

  18. Anonymous
    April 8, 2017 at 8:48 pm Reply

    We need to preserve our economy and sanity. Therefore, joining Maria island to main land Saint Lucia can be considered. People need to be born on Maria Island so they can be call Marinians. That would be a new speci and it would be very very rare as compared to the snake.

  19. Society
    April 8, 2017 at 11:13 pm Reply

    Know u’ll history…..at one time the sight of Royalton hotel….was once a mangrove swamp..with some of the rarest animals and birds…not a word ..not a word..not a word..

  20. moana online movie
    April 9, 2017 at 5:18 am Reply

    To putt it differently, the Disne Store’s newest Moana” items may actually be
    an instance of brownface ” andd ethnic appropriation ?

    and the web did not hold back on contacting Disney out after
    the first release over the weekend.

  21. Anonymous
    April 9, 2017 at 10:27 am Reply

    Oh how ignorant some of us I repeat some of us st.lucians are we preferred to preserve snakes and other animals instead of looking for food to feed the nation. We crying foul things hard no work no Jobs bandits all over criminals are hard at work police hands are full and this is what the SLPs love to here .they also playing their part in making sure that the UWPs are not the ones to bring relieve to the nation by creating jobs for the people. Weather labour or flamboo very one will gain. The very same people who opposing the government in what they trying to achieve they will be in the front line to look for a job so why killing the pregnant goose .how ignorant some of us can be. .

    1. cristal
      April 9, 2017 at 10:03 pm Reply

      So many grammatical errors!

  22. Anonymous
    April 9, 2017 at 12:22 pm Reply

    Export the snakes for rice and flour

  23. Anonymous
    April 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm Reply

    It would be a disgrace to our patrimony if the UWP administration allow DHS in control of Maria island and to go to the extreme by joining it to the mainland. That will be the end of the the smalliest snake in the world. We as a people have to put our priorities right, we should preserve our natural environment for our children and future generations or else we are destiny to be alienated in the country that gave us birth

  24. appreciative
    April 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm Reply

    The narrative was quite descriptive and riveting. Sounds like a novel. I think you should pursue writing these experiences for publication too for those who still appreciate that kind of stuff. People like us will always exist.

  25. DXM
    April 9, 2017 at 2:39 pm Reply

    Spotting 2 races on Maria Island in such a short space of time. That was really awesome! Maria is such an invaluable part of our ecosystem – Let’s keep doing all we can to preserve it.

  26. The Commentator
    April 9, 2017 at 3:28 pm Reply

    Ignorance, apathy and politics will destroy this beautiful island. The St. Lucia Racer can only be found on Maria Islands because it was wiped out from the mainland when a British governor introduced the mongoose into Saint Lucia in the Nineteenth Century to wipe out the fer-de-lance. Mongooses are voracious carnivores and soon began to eat all snakes, lizards, chickens etc. Once you build a causeway to Maria Islands the mongooses will move across to feast on all the snakes and lizards which can be found there.
    It is quite ironic that a country which has produced two Nobel Laureates will also produce ignorant people who support a causeway to Maria Islands.

    1. viewer
      April 10, 2017 at 9:13 am Reply

      Well said,people are just to ignorant to realize what they have till it is gone,but travel to other countries and be elated to see other rare species…the irony

  27. Anonymous
    April 9, 2017 at 4:04 pm Reply

    Eat the snake for break fast, lunch; and diner, foolish people;

    1. Anonymous
      April 9, 2017 at 4:44 pm Reply

      Much of the food that we eat is dependent on the activity of the animals. Simple fact: Snakes help to control rodent populations, which if uncontrolled will significantly decrease food resources. Another simple fact: The decline it the bee population worldwide has resulted in the decline of production of certain foods. Bees are needed for pollination of flowers for crop production. Animals, especially those endemic to an eco system are extremely important for our survival.

  28. Anonymous
    April 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm Reply

    U know;

  29. Anonymous
    April 9, 2017 at 4:42 pm Reply

    It’s the same way they destroyed free gate island in pralin… It’s a shame on these politicians

  30. Lucianman101
    April 10, 2017 at 9:02 am Reply

    Some of our people are so short-sighted, we can have development and protect our cultural/natural heritage at the same time. Building a causeway to the maria islands was not part of the original agreement. Why are letting this chinese businessman have whatever he wants ?

  31. ANONYMOUR
    April 10, 2017 at 9:27 am Reply

    WELL WELL WELL FOREIGNERS HAVE MADE US AWARE OF OUR HERITAGE. MAKE A SURVEY AND ASK STLUCIANS WHEN DID THEY EVER VISIT PIGEON ISLAND EXCEPT DURING JAZZ FESTIVAL TO SEE WHAT OUR HERITAGE IS ALL ABOUT. MANY WILL SAY NEVER. IT TOOK FOREIGNERS TO JOIN ASSOCIATIONS, SERVICE CLUBS AS THEY ARRIVE HERE TO BE COUNTED AS INDIVIDUALS WITH A WHITE COMPLEXION AND FOREIGN ACCENT TO BE ACCEPTED AS EXPERTS IN OUR HERITAGE. GROWING UP WE WERE NEVER TOLD ABOUT THE SO CALLED IMPORTANCE OF ANY PLACE. WHAT ABOUT PIGEON ISLAND WE ARE SO PROTECTIVE ABOUT. WHEN SOMEONE ONE IS KILLED THE AUTORITIES AGREE ONE DEATH IS TOO MANY BUT WHEN JOBS ARE BEING CREATED THEY ARE 30 TOO LITTLE. MOST OF THOSE FOREIGNERS IN THEIR COUNTRY OF BIRTH ARE JUST A STATISTIC BUT HERE THEY ARE CONSIDERED TO BE SOMEONE OF IMPORTANCE. WHAT ARE THE WORST OF EXAMPLES OF ANIMALS KEPT IN CAPTIVITY BUT ZOOS. ALL THOSE AGAINST THE DSH PROECT ARE ALL EXPERTS OVERNIGHT ON ECOLOGY, EVIRONMENT, DOLPHINS IN CAPTIVITY, SEA AND TIDE DESTRUCTION, BIRDS AND SNAKE EXTINCTION, MANGROVE FISH HABITATS, AND MANY MORE. TOOLSIE SAID SNLT NOT POLTICAL WHO IS THE CHAIRMAN, LET US SUPPOSE IF DUNSTAN DUBOULAY WAS THE CHARIMAN WHOULD HE BE AGAISNT IT. LIKE PISSING IN OUR EYES AND SAY IT IS RAINIG. EN BIEN.

  32. ANONYMOUS
    April 10, 2017 at 9:33 am Reply

    ITS ONLY A PROPOSAL NOT A FAID ACCOMLI. DONT GET CARRIED AWAY YOU LABOUT HACK AND STOP REPEATING AS IF IT IS TRUE. STOP THE PROJECT AND SEE VIEUX FORT THE SAME FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS ASK KENNY KEEP IT AS VIRGIN TERRITORY. WE LIKE IT SO. LOL.

  33. ANONYMOUS
    April 10, 2017 at 9:36 am Reply

    ITS ONLY A PROPOSAL NOT A FAIT ACCOMPLI. DONT GET CARRIED AWAY YOU LABOUR HACK AND STOP REPEATING AS IF IT IS TRUE. STOP THE PROJECT AND SEE VIEUX FORT THE SAME FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS ASK KENNY KEEP IT AS VIRGIN TERRITORY. WE LIKE IT SO. LOL.

  34. Lamar
    April 15, 2017 at 8:31 am Reply

    magnificent points altogether, you simply gained a new reader. What would you recommend in regards to your post that you made some days ago? Any positive?

Leave a Reply

Shares
Man charged in Caye Mange homicideRead
+ +