Monthly Archives: July 2013
UNESCO World Heritage Site #253: Pitons Management Area
From the World Heritage inscription:
Dominating the mountainous landscape of St Lucia are the Pitons, two steep-sided volcanic spires rising side by side from the sea. Gros Piton (770 m) is 3 km in diameter at its base, and Petit Piton (743 m) is 1 km in diameter and linked to the former by the Piton Mitan ridge.
The Pitons are part of a volcanic complex, known to geologists as the Soufriere Volcanic Centre which is the remnant of one (or more) huge collapsed stratovolcano. The volcanic complex overlies a tectonic plate subduction (underthrusting) zone which stretches 700 km along Lesser Antilles, forming a volcanic arc.
The Pitons are the eroded cores of two lava domes formed on the flanks of the stratovolcano. Today they tower above a caldera-like formation, produced by a gigantic gravity slide or structural collapse which formed the Qualibou Depression, 7 km in diameter. Near the centre of the depression are the Sulphur Springs, an active, high temperature geothermal field with sulphurous fumaroles and hot springs. The Pitons occur with a variety of other volcanic features including cumulo-domes, explosion craters, pyroclastic deposits (pumice and ash) and lava flows. Collectively, these fully illustrate the volcanic history of an andesitic composite volcano associated with crustal plate subduction.
The Marine Management Area is a coastal strip 11 km long and about 1 km wide. It comprises a steeply sloping continental shelf with fringing and patch reefs, boulders and sandy plains. The coral reefs, which cover almost 60% of the marine area, are healthy and diverse. A survey to a depth of 20 m revealed 168 species of finfish, 60 species of cnidaria, including corals, molluscs, sponges, echinoderms, arthropods and annelid worms. Hawksbill turtles are seen inshore, and whale sharks and pilot whales offshore.
The Pitons might very well be the most awe inspiring view in the entire Caribbean. The peaks are so important to the identity of St. Lucia that they appear on the national flag, the most popular beer in the country is named after it, and it appears on almost every souvenir you can buy on the island.
It is situated above the town of Soufrière in the south-west corner of the island. It is probably the most popular attraction on the island and there are many day tours which visit the area. It is also a popular destination for people visiting for the day on a cruise.
UNESCO World Heritage Site #252: Morne Trois Pitons National Park
From the World Heritage inscription:
Morne Trois Pitons is located 13 km east of the town of Roseau in the highlands of south-central Dominica and it is the basaltic spike-like remains of a former volcano rising to approximately 1,300 m, within 8 km of the sea.
The landscape is characterized by volcanic piles with precipitous slopes, and deeply incised valleys (glacis slopes). There is also a fumarole known as Valley of Desolation (or Grand Soufriere), with fumaroles, hot springs, mud pots, sulphur vents and the Boiling Lake, which is the world’s second largest of its kind. The valley is a large amphitheatre surrounded by mountains and consisting of at least three separate craters where steam vents, small ponds, and hot springs bubble up through the ground. Boiling Lake is surrounded by cliffs and is almost always covered by clouds of steam. The Valley of Desolation drains into the Pointe Mulatre River, which flows into the Atlantic.
Other outstanding features in the area include the Emerald Pool, fed by the Middleham Falls; Stinking Hole, a lava tube in the middle of the forest; and the Boeri and Freshwater lakes. The Freshwater Lake is the largest and second deepest of Dominica’s four freshwater lakes. The Boeri Lake is the second largest in Dominica, and is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. Both lakes are separated from each other by Morne Macaque (1,221 m) and vary in depth with the season. Both are thought to have originated some 25,000-30,000 years ago. The park also encompasses almost all the headwaters of the streams and rivers in the southern half of the island.
Morne Trois Pitons National Park is the jewel of an island which itself might be the jewel of the Caribbean.
Dominica is a wild island that is still volcanically active. There are few beaches on the island, but the lack of beaches are made up for by 365 rivers, many mountains, the world second largest boiling lake and stunning lush scenery. Many parts of the part are only accessible by hiking. Some spots, like the boiling lake, require a full days hike to get there and back.
The waterfall in the photo is Upper Trafalgar falls which is right next to Lower Trafalgar falls. Despite being right next to each other, the falls from rivers with completely different sources.
Dominica is the least visited country in the Western Hemisphere because the airport cannot handle large airplanes, but that shouldn’t deter you from visiting. It is unlike any other island in the Caribbean.
Behind the Lens – Jellyfish Lake in Palau
One of the most incredible things I’ve ever done is gone swimming with jellyfish in Palau.
Palau is a small island country of approximately 20,000 people in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and north of Indonesia. It is also home to, what I believe, is the greatest diving in the world.
The most unique feature of Palau however, doesn’t require any SCUBA gear to experience: the jellyfish lake.