Airport wildlife transferred to new ponds

| 21/01/2020 | 40 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Dozens of birds and animals living in and around the ponds on the airfield at Owen Roberts International Airport have been relocated to new homes, officials have said. The Cayman Islands Airports Authority is due to start work on filling the ponds as part of the project to improve the airport’s apron, runway and airfield perimeter and safety standards. Despite the air traffic, the ponds have attracted wildlife over the years that had to be moved before the ponds can be filled.

The ponds have provided a source of food and water for birds and a place to rest during their annual migrations. They are also home to fish and other creatures, such as terrapins.

The movement of the birds in and out of these areas, however, present a hazard to the safe operation of aircraft, airport officials said. There are several ponds of varying size west of the start of Runway 08, one pond to the south of the runway and one pond adjacent to the fire station.

The project to move the wildlife began last month. CIAA staff and local volunteers, led by CIAA Safety Officer Megan Ramnarine, rescued and relocated hickatees, tarpon, mosquito fish, crusted goby, tilapia and other wildlife. Equipped with fishing poles, holding tanks, pole nets and cast nets for the mission, they successfully removed dozens of species and put them in neighboring ponds away from the runway and airfield.

Ramnarine was recently trained on Hazardous Wildlife Control at Minneapolis Airport in the United States and said the knowledge she gained helped with the planning and execution of this project. She also credited Arren McCoy, a friend and local volunteer for the role he played in providing resources, his personal time and knowledge of local wildlife.

“We could not have saved these precious animals without the help and commitment of all the volunteers,” Ramnarine said.

Once the ponds are cleared of wildlife, they will be drained and filled with large sized “Rip-Rap” stone. Geotextile fabric is to be placed over the stone, and granular fill material will becompacted over the ponds to allow for extension of the runway into this area.


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Category: Business, Land Habitat, Science & Nature, Transport

Comments (40)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they should just dump those Max 8s in the ponds to save money on fill.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Nothing to do with the airport pond, but I just saw something related to wildlife in Cayman that I want to share.
    I was on Politico and saw an ad for Seven Seas Charters with a picture of two guys holding stingrays out of the water. I clicked on the ad and their website shows another picture of a woman holding a starfish up to her ear.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    What I am baffled about is why are we placing so much emphasis and money on the current airport? Considering global warming and rising tides, it’s just a matter of time before planes will have to wait for low tide for the planes to land. I think it’s time for the people to insist we stop wasting money at the existing location and let’s head for higher grounds.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Good effort. Nice to see wildlife being protected.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    There is a great big mother of a pond at the other end of the runway which presents greater risk..take off time

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  6. Anonymous says:

    About 10 years ago CIAA project manager at the time presented a $4m price tag to fill the ponds. Wonder what it will really cost now?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I will miss looking out for the terrapins as I sit there in the traffic jam.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Lets see how much fills it take to fill these ponds.

    • Anonymous says:

      And your point is??? How ever much it takes it has to be filled!!

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      • Anonymous says:

        My point is, stop waiting money on this airport! Build a new one on the east end of the island and keep the current one for private planes and small regional flights. The current airport is not built for purpose! All the money that was recently spent and it’s still a POS.

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        • Anonymous says:

          8:41 don’t be ridiculous. The environmental impact and cost would be enormous. Also the current airport is in the location it is for a reason. It is the best location for take offs and landings (due to the predominant wind direction coming from the North East).

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am really sorry that the wild life had to go. I understand completely the risks to airplanes especially caused by the birds but when you are stuck in traffic in the evenings, especially in the summer time, and you look across and see the turtles sunning themselves, it does put a smile on your face and makes you realise that you are truly living in paradise.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    won’t the birds fly back?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Some birds might but the wading birds will probably not. They are attracted by the ponds so the removal of such will likely mean they avoid the area. It’s a shame they have to lose a habitat but they are a serious hazard to aircraft.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not if there are is no pond.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What happened to all of the wild life that was in the ponds that Dart filled up – hickatees, birds, fish etc.Does anyone know when the canal will be dug under the bridge for when Dart can pick up his guests to carry them to the North Sound

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  12. Anonymous says:

    It is about time! We need to expand that runway so that bigger jets can fly in! It is entirely possible to open up a Africa to Cayman air lift to enhance tourism! Just look at St. Maarten!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Africa to Cayman? For more refugees from South Africa? Not for regular tourists.

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    • Anonymous says:

      11:37 You don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, do you?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Africa?

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    • Anonymous says:

      British Airways manages to land a bigger jet, no issues. No reason other airlines couldn’t if they thought it was worthwhile

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      • Anonymous says:

        2:11 BA can only operate the 777-200s (and the 767-300s before that) into ORIA with minimal loads, that’s why they stage through Nassau. The last wide-body aircraft that operated into here with full passenger loads were the old BA (ex-BCal) DC-10s. They flew in from Gatwick then dropped off at Nassau and re-fueled en route back to the UK – I did that trip a few times. Will the extended runway change this? I have my doubts but it might stop pilots referring to ORIA as a ‘carrier landing’ – as in, ‘if you screw up you’ll get your feet wet.’

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  13. Frantic flyer says:

    The CIAA has been promising to fill these ponds in for the last three decades. On this basis it will be some time before this project is completed by which time all the birds will have flown back to where they came from at the end of the runway.
    On a related matter when will we get the latest cost of the terminal redevelopment project. Are we waiting until the two large vacant retail areas in the departure area are finally filled?. We need this information before Part II of the redevelopment project starts to accommodate the increased passenger traffic which has already outgrown the current redevelopment project.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    It still is sad they have to relocate them. For crying out loud, the turtles have in the ponds from donkey ages. Their great great great grandfathers and the whole show-bang! They should at least be respected. They have naturalization and status, ya know :((

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    • Anonymous says:

      I love wild life being in their habitat too, but I would rather know they are removed than to know that a plane load of persons lost their lives because of the birds. Sounds like a good plan. We need to accommodate the planes for stay over tourism.

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