Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Image of the week : Cat Island, Bahamas

-> Localization in the Marine GeoGarage


Cat Island is one of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets that form the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
Named San Salvador prior to 1925, Cat Island has been put forward as a candidate for where Christopher Columbus may have made his first landfall in the Americas.

Mount Alvernia—the highest point in the Bahamas, with an elevation of approximately 63 meters (206 feet) above sea level—is located on the southeastern part of the island.
Like most other islands in the Bahamas, Cat Island is located on a large depositional platform that is composed mainly of carbonate sediments and surrounding reefs.
The approximately 77 kilometer-long island (48 miles) is the part of the platform continuously exposed above water, which allows for soil development (brown to tan areas) and the growth of vegetation.

Shallow water to the west-southwest (below the island in this view) appears bright blue, in contrast to the deeper ocean waters to the north, east, and south.
In this
astronaut photograph, the ocean surface near the southeastern half of the island has a slight grey tinge due to sunglint, or light reflecting off the water surface back towards the International Space Station.
Small white cumulus clouds obscure some parts of the island.

Cat Island is inhabited, and had a total population of 1,647 in 2000, according to the
Department of Statistics of the Bahamas.
The smaller island of Little San Salvador to the west is privately owned and used as a port of call for cruise ships.

Cat Island may have derived its name from Arthur Catt, the famous British sea captain or notorious pirate.
A competing source for the name are the hordes of wild cats that the English encountered here on arrival in the 1600s.
The cats were said to be descendants of their tamer cousins orphaned by the early Spanish colonists in their rush to find the gold of South America.

This boot-shaped, untamed island is one of the most beautiful and fertile of The Bahamas.
A lush sanctuary, it provides tranquility for those seeking an escape from the pressures of modern civilization.
Others thought so too, like Father Jerome, a penitent hermit who built a medieval monastery hewn from the limestone cliffs atop 206-foot Mt. Alvernia, a place for meditation.
From these high cliffs, there is a marvelous view down to densely-forested foothills and 60 miles of deserted pink-and-white-sand beach.

Cat Island was once home to one of the more prosperous Loyalist colonies of the Out Islands.
The island gained its wealth from the numerous cotton plantations established during the 1700s.
Now, vine-covered, semi-ruined mansions and stone walls from farms where cattle were penned and pineapples grown, play hide and seek within the tropical flowers, grass and sand.
Crumbling remnants of slave villages and artifacts in Arawak caves whisper of a life long past.
Descendants of those early settlers remain in the same towns of their ancestors.

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