Isla Culebra

Anolis cristatellus, Culebra. 

Anolis cristatellus, Culebra. 

The small island of Culebra is 17 miles east of Puerto Rico. It is filled with life on land and in the warm Caribbean Sea. It was a US naval reservation for 72 years and was used as a bombing practice site during the second World War. We were reminded of this when we asked how to get to Carlos Rosario Beach, a beach known for it's snorkeling. A local told us to cross under the fence where the danger sign was posted. 

We encountered two species of anoles; the barred anole (Ctenonotus stratulus) and the Puerto Rican crested anole (Anolis cristatellus). The crested anole is one of the most common anoles and has adapted well to urban environments. 

A large male green iguana (Iguana iguana) sat on the power lines along the side of the road. He began bob his head when he realized we had spotted him, letting us know he was in charge and we were in his territory. A Puerto Rican ground lizard (Ameiva exsul) watched us from the thicket near Flamenco Beach. He was too quick to catch or photograph.

Chickens are everywhere. There are no natural land mammals on Culebra, however we did see a few of the white-tailed deer that were introduced to the island in 1966.

Ctenonotus stratulus, Flamico.

Ctenonotus stratulus, Flamico.

Anolis cristatellus, Flaminco 

Anolis cristatellus, Flaminco 

Anolis cristatellus, Culebra 

Anolis cristatellus, Culebra 

Adult male Anolis cristatellus, Culebra. This is the Puerto Rican crested anole, named for the crest on it's tail, neck and back of the males, as seen here. This was the most aggressive of the anoles I attempted to catch and the only one who bit me. 

Adult male Anolis cristatellus, Culebra. This is the Puerto Rican crested anole, named for the crest on it's tail, neck and back of the males, as seen here. This was the most aggressive of the anoles I attempted to catch and the only one who bit me. 

Ctenonotus stratulus, Culebra 

Ctenonotus stratulus, Culebra 

Being a marine biologist by training, but a herpetologist at heart, I am always thrilled when both worlds collide. As you can imagine, the most exciting herp for me on Culebra was busy eating sea grass: the green sea turtle. Close to a dozen of them were scattered along the sea grass bed, unfazed by the snorkelers staring at them from above. Some had large suckerfish attached to their shells. Stingrays also hung out in the sea grass,  digging up their meals, with large fish overhead waiting to steal what they could. The Isla Culebra is an incredible tiny jewel in the Caribbean I would love to visit again soon. 

Stay tuned for my next blog on Herping Puerto Rico that will be up in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading! 

Green Sea Turtle. Photo by Lauren Vasquez. 

Green Sea Turtle. Photo by Lauren Vasquez.