Abaco Life Magazine

Abaco Life, An Island Magazine

 
   
       

Archive for June, 2009

A snapshot of Abaco’s most popular pets

06 10th, 2009

by Jim Kerr
Photos by Jim and Cathy Kerr

Pot-cake n. 1. a highly variable canine of mixed heredity found in the Bahamas. 2. a mutt or mongrel in the Bahamas whose name derives from the thick, congealed food remaining in the bottom of a pot of peas and rice it has traditionally been fed. 3. a lovable, lop-eared lopper whose independence, loyalty and antics amuse and ingratiate a large host of dedicated humans. 4. an unwanted liability often born under a truck and abandoned at a garbage dump. (Definition by Abaco Life)

potcakes from abaco bahamasWhile their ancestors probably arrived in Abaco first with the Lucayans centuries ago and later with Loyalist settlers in the 1780s, today’s Bahamian mixed breed dogs are so mixed up they have been given a special status and name: Royal Bahamian Potcakes. They have distinct characteristics of size and tem-perament bred into them from a shared gene pool, and none of them have enough DNA from any one breed to be significantly identifiable with it.potcakes from abaco bahamas

Today their status in Abaco, depending on your point of view, ranges from abandoned pest roaming the streets and dumps, to cherished member of a human family. The quality of their lives seems to hang on fate. Often ownerless and half-starved, yelled at and shoed away with their tails hanging, they are also adored pets and companions, whose intelligence is admired and whose mirth is encouraged as they romp and dig for crabs on the beaches, ride in the bow of boats, stroll the narrow village streets and laze on the porches and sidewalks.

And while often feral tramps, Abaco’s potcakes are also prized by owners, most of whom rescued them from a much different life.
On average, potcakes weigh from 50 to 60 pounds, as opposed to 30 pounds in days gone by, because of mating with an influx of larger dogs such as Shepherds and Rottweilers, according to Dr. Derrick Bailey, Marsh Harbour’s resident veterinarian. “Potcakes don’t need grooming or much maintenance,” says Dr. Bailey. “And they do not have sep- aration anxiety which causes them to tear the house apart. They are well adapted to local conditions.”

The number of people, both local and foreign, who actively participate in Potcake rescue, fostering and ownership has grown substantially in recent years. For these folks, Canus familiaris of the Potcake variety is nothing less than an integral icon of domestic island life.

potcakes from abaco bahamas potcakes from abaco bahamas potcakes from abaco bahamas

Here are a few examples:potcakes from abaco bahamas

JAKE

Kent LeBoutillier was chosen by Jake, one of 14 puppies born under a truck in Marsh Harbour. “He ran around in a circle and came to us,” says Kent, a resident of Elbow Cay. While he has some Border Collie characteristics, Jake has the look and manner of a true Potcake, she says. “He’s a sweet and loving shadow – well-mannered, smart, gentle, energetic and non-intrusive.” Jake likes to ride in the boat, swim in the harbour or anywhere off the beach. “Jake will do anything for fun,” says Kent.

SUNSHINE potcakes from abaco bahamas

Every morning when Debbie Patterson comes across Hope Town Harbour to open up her Ebb Tide gift shop, Sunshine rides along. Fourteen years ago Debbie adopted her from the Bahamas Humane Society in Freeport after a taxi driver picked the dog up on the roadside when she was about eight weeks old. “She still gets off the boat on the shore at Bay Side Tellin’ and makes the neighborhood rounds before coming to the shop,” says Debbie. “But at her age she’s a part-timer now and goes home at noon.”



Potcake stamps

06 9th, 2009

Fame comes to Amigo and three other potcakes
on new Bahamian commemorative stamps

By Jim Kerr

Potcakes will have their ‘day in the sun’ this spring as the subject of four commemorative postage stamps based on paintings by renowned Bahamian artist Alton Lowe (for more about Alton’s career, see the feature in the Fall/Holiday ’08 issue of Abaco Life). It’s the first time the much-loved mutt has been the subject of a four-stamp commemorative issue, designed to give them overdue recognition as a national treasure and significant part of the island landscape going back centuries. A native son of Green Turtle Cay and a potcake lover himself, Alton has designed more than 150 stamps with subjects ranging from Bahamian scenes to his renderings of flora and fauna. Through active promotion of these unique and historical stamps, the artist hopes to help the plight of homeless potcakes. The stamps honor four outstanding representatives of the breed, each with its own unique story:

Turtlepotcakes from abaco bahamas
She Likes to Fish

Turtle was born under an upturned boat in a yard on Green Turtle Cay in May 2001. Her father was ‘Lucky,’ a retriever/chow/ potcake mix, and definitely the ‘dog about town’ at the time (See “Lucky” on page 30.) Her mother was the very eligible ‘Sassy,’ a shepherd-looking potcake who was renowned for her beauty and known all over the island. Turtle’s hobby is chasing fish in shallow waters. She will spend all day at this, if allowed. She also loves to chase curly tail lizards lounging in the sun. Her family is very proud to have her represent one of the varieties of potcakes in this stamp series, and hopes that everyone will become more aware of the breed and choose to adopt a potcake of their own.

OREOpotcakes from abaco bahamas
A Loving Personality

Along with several siblings, Oreo was rescued from the Treasure Cay dump on Abaco and brought to Green Turtle Cay, where she was adopted from a laundry basket full of potcake puppies being driven around town in a golf cart. Oreo, owned by part-time GTC resident Lee Linton, resides at Linton’s Cottages. Always friendly with guests, she was involved in a hit-and-run accident in 2008 which resulted in the loss of her right hind leg. It may have slowed her down some, but her loving personality hasn’t changed. She remains an important part of the lives of her owners on Green Turtle Cay, and is a wonderful example of ‘potcake potential.’

TRIPODpotcakes from abaco bahamas
A Three-legged Herder

Tripod was a small, feral, potcake puppy when she was found with a shattered leg on the side of the Great Abaco Highway near Marsh Harbour, probably hit by a car. A passerby rescued her, and with generous help from another animal-lover, Tripod’s leg was
amputated. She eventually found a home on Green Turtle Cay with Alton Lowe’s brother, Vertrum. Tripod has the laidback disposition and personality of a golden retriever and the intelligence and herding ability of a border collie, two breeds she resembles.

AMIGOpotcakes from abaco bahamas
A Bahamian Superstar

Amigo, who appears on the cover of this issue of Abaco Life, is a ‘rags to riches’ story; a journey from starving, diseased and homeless potcake pup to Bahamian superstar and ‘Icon of Hope’ for challenged animals in general and potcakes in particular.
He began life on Grand Bahama Island, spotted sitting on the side of the road by Frances Hayward, a passionate animal activist and then-head of The Humane Society of Grand Bahama. Little more than skin and bones and covered with mange, ticks and fleas when he crawled out of the bush, Amigo managed to convey a sweetness, confidence, high intelligence and extro-verted personality that would eventually lead to stardom as a celebrity representative and poster dog in a major campaign for spaying, neutering and rescue that Mrs. Hayward initiated and was about to launch.Amigo was chosen as ‘Story of the Year’ by The Nassau Tribune, and soon he was adorning posters, hats, t-shirts, car stickers, newspaper ads and tourist magazines as the ‘face’ of the Humane Society of Grand Bahama’s “Crusade Against Animal Suffering on Grand Bahama Island” and a national awareness campaign dealing with the care and treatment of animals throughout The Bahamas. Taking his message abroad, Amigo lived an amazing, madcap, purposeful life, hobnobbing with celebrities, starring in the Humane Society of the United States BEKIND Campaign, appearing on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and in magazine and newspaper articles. He received the
Ambassador of Goodwill award from ARF (Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons) presented by film star Alec Baldwin; starred in two Mardi Gras Parades; and appeared in Public Service Announcements with Humane Society of the U.S. President Wayne Pacelle and Hip Hop Impresario Russell Simmons. He received the Hollywood Life Breakthrough Award from actress Alicia Silverstone, then went on his own rescue mission with “The Amigo Express” after Hurricane Katrina. Finally, he became the dog that walked the catwalk in fashion shows to benefit homeless animals. Amigo died in September 2007 after a brave battle with cancer, but a recently-established fund in his name will keep his legacy alive by giving others like him a chance. The Amigo Commemorative Stamp will be an additional tribute to a gallant potcake.

Information on the new Bahamian commemorative stamps is available by writing the Bahamas Philatelic Bureau, P.O. Box N-8302, Nassau, Bahamas, or by e-mail at: Bahamasphilatelic@bahamas.gov.bs . The stamps can also be ordered in person at the main building of the General Post Office in Nassau and at the Welcome Center at Prince George Dock. A set of signed limited edition prints of the “Amigo” painting will also be available, thanks to the artist. All proceeds will go to Amigo’s Fund to benefit animals of The Bahamas. For further information visit: www.amigosfund.org.



Pineapples Days: How Sweet They Were

06 9th, 2009

pineapples in abaco bahamas
By Jim Kerr

pineapples in abaco bahamasOf all the colorful historic periods of economic endeavor that transformed Green Turtle Cay and its inhabitants, one of the sweetest of all is perhaps least remembered. Unlike wrecking, sponging, shark fishing and craw fishing, it came and went like a foreign wind that, while it brought good fortune, left few remnants and even fewer memories among locals.

The product was the pineapple, a fruit with sharp, pointy leaves and prickly exterior with a sweet center that originated in Brazil and Paraguay and made its way to the Caribbean, where it was discovered by Columbus and carried back to Europe. If you order a pina colada today at Pineapples Bar in Green Turtle, or a pineapple-topped pizza in Marsh Harbour, chances are the juice in your drink and the fruit on your pie came from a pineapple grown in Costa Rica or the Philippines. But back in the late 19th century, pineapples were not only grown in abundance on numerous farms on Abaco and Eleuthera in the Bahamas, but were profitably canned and shipped to the U.S. and Mother England.

While pineapples were introduced to Eleuthera in the 1850s and commercially grown and canned there until the early 1990s, Green Turtle’s lesser-documented pineapple era also spans more than 30 years from the late 1860s to around 1900. pineapples in abaco bahamasRecords obtained by Green Turtle Cay artist and historian Alton Lowe indicate that 6,000 dozen pineapples were shipped to New York from Abaco aboard the American schooner Charlotte Brown that left New Plymouth on October 26, 1870. By then, the industrious inhabitants of the cay, who numbered almost 1,200 at the time, had become the basis of a labor pool for a canning and shipping operation which effectively cut hundreds of sailing miles from the established Nassau and Eleuthera trade routes to New York and London.

Munroe and Company out of Baltimore, Maryland built the plant, which lay along the east side of what is today Black Sound. And while the operation is little more than a faded blip in Green Turtle’s past, recent discoveries by archaeologists indicate that the scope of the factory and technology employed played a significant role in the lives and fortunes of many who once lived and worked here. In December, 2008, pineapples in abaco bahamasBob Carr and two other researchers from the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy in Florida began excavating property now belonging to real estate developer Doug Poland. A Green Turtle Cay resident himself, Poland was aware that the site of his new seven-acre Leeward Yacht Club marina and subdivision was once the site of the pineapple factory.

“This is an important discovery from what was once a leading industry in the Bahamas,” said Carr, whose company operated under an antiquity permit authorized by the National Museum of the Bahamas. “These are well-preserved features that can help tell us about the details of economic life in 19th century Abaco. Many sites have been destroyed over the years as the result of growth and Doug was interested enough to get involved.” Both the foundation and fragments of 19th century life abound on the site. A piece of a pipe stem, a broken handle from ceramic crockery, chards of formal dinnerware, broken bottles and other artifacts are scattered near what would have been the site of the factory manager’s house, attesting to the comfortable lifestyle of the family who lived here more than 200 years ago. Nearby are brick building foundations, wells, large, double-celled cisterns and the foundation of the plant’s processing boiler.

pineapples in abaco bahamasRaw pineapples, which take about 18 months to grow, were pared and the core was sliced and canned. Rain from the cisterns was mixed with sugar and ladled into the cans, which were made from sheets of imported tin. Heated rods from furnaces sealed the seams of the cans and the lids were soldered. The operation was similar to those on Eleuthera and in Nassau, and the process was described by Mrs. Frank Leslie, wife of the noted illustrator, who visited Nassau in the late 1800s

“Enormous caldrons, half full of madly boiling water, stand embedded in the floor (and) over each caldron there is tackle for lifting and lowering the iron vessel containing the cans,” she wrote. “When the vessel is filled, it is lowered into the boiling water where it remains until the air within each can become expanded – the space of four or five minutes. Then the cauldron is hoisted high and dry, and with a hole punched in the top of each can to permit the air to escape, this hole being instantly re-soldered, the cans are again lowered into the cauldron, where they remain until the fruit is completely cooked.”:pineapples in abaco bahamas

Although the canned product traveled much better to far-flung markets, fresh cut pineapple continued to be shipped until the early 1890s. Otis Roberts, who owned the house in New Plymouth that later became the Albert Lowe Museum, was paymaster for the pineapple cutters, and Adolphus Curry of Green Turtle Cay was an agent for the company who often sailed with the ships to markets in New York and Baltimore. In 1890, however, he left the job and moved his entire family to Key West, Florida after his daughter, Susan, decided to marry a man she had met there while visiting relatives. Adolphus’ great granddaughter, Ann Gardner, 79, who lives in the house in Key West where she was born, still has the letter that Adolphus wrote giving her grandmother permission to marry.

The pineapple industry on Green Turtle, meanwhile, had reached its peak. World demand for exotic fruit brought large profits, and buyer’s representatives from abroad descended on the cay. Green Turtle’s first hotel, the New Plymouth Hotel, was built to accommodate buyers, shippers and visitors, and in 1890 Munroe and Company recorded a record shipment of 3,272 cases to London. The two-story hotel was destroyed in the 1932 hurricane, but by then the flourishing pineapple industry was long over, at least in the Bahamas. pineapples in abaco bahamasOther far-flung entrepreneurs had jumped into the market, taking pineapple slips to Hawaii and other locales. In recent times, pineapple growing and canning has shifted to tropical climates in the Pacific and Central America.
Doug Poland, whose Leeward Yacht Club funded the archaeological project, is determined to preserve not only artifacts but the character of the site, which will feature Bahamian and Key West-style homes. “I’ve planted pineapples across the property to respect the history of this place, and will preserve some of the more interesting historic features so that residents and visitors will see some vestige of the island heritage,” he said.

The site includes two six-foot deep, double-celled cisterns, each measuring about 13 by 25 feet. Project archaeologists, whose laborious excavations turned up many of the artifacts, included Joe Mankowski and Ryan Franklin from the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy based in Florida. “All of these artifacts will help us understand daily life in the Bahamas,” says Carr. “Many of them will eventually be at the Albert Lowe Museum in New Plymouth.” A special showing of the finds so far was held on December 16, along with tours across the site.



Lionfish Invade Reefs

06 9th, 2009

A great photo op but a greater potential disaster
By Rhonda Claridge • Photos by Kay Politano

lionfish in the waters of abaco bahamasIt may be lovely to look at, but the red lionfish (Pterois volitans) that has come to live in Abaco waters recently is a devastating invader of the Western Atlantic Ocean. They pose such a threat to the fisheries and marine life of their new habitat, that one scientist warns they “could very well become the most disastrous marine invasion in history.”

All feathery fins and camouflaging stripes, the foot-long lionfish is a voracious and efficient predator. In its native domain, the coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it attacks at night, patiently singling out a small fish or shrimp, then sucking down its prey in an instant. As defense, the lionfish injects venom into any intruder, human or otherwise, that comes into contact with the quills on its fins, located 360 degrees around its body. For humans, the typical effect is serious but temporary and non-life-threatening pain, but the more serious, long-term ramifications of the lionfish in its Atlantic habitat are becoming painfully evident.

Dr. Mark Hixon, a professor of marine conservation biology at Oregon State University, who has been studying the biodiversity of coral-reef ecosystems in the Bahamas since the early 1990s, provides a grim list of possibilities: “There may be less food fish for people as lionfish consume juvenile grouper and snapper. There may be fewer grazing fish, which help to keep corals from being overgrown by algae, and there may be fewer large predators, which have been shown to help stabilize fish populations, as lionfish eat their young.” Based on the findings of a recent study that he and graduate student Mark Albins conducted, Hixon explained in an online NBC discussion recently that “a single lionfish can reduce the input of new fish to a small coral patch reef in the Bahamas by 80 percent in just five weeks. As we continue our studies, it is becoming clear that the spread and intensity of this invasion is both unprecedented and staggering.”

Where did these foreign invaders come from? The source is believed to be an aquarium that dumped as few as six individual fish into Biscayne Bay, Florida, in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew. With no natural predators in the Atlantic, and a host of unsuspecting prey, the lionfish have prospered, reproducing and dispersing at an astounding rate. From Bermuda to North Carolina and as far south as Jamaica and possibly the Lesser Antilles, and, most recently, Columbia, Belize and Mexico, lionfish are now ubiquitous. Since their first reported sighting in the Bahamas in 2004, they have become “widespread and abundant throughout the archipelago,” according to Nicola Smith, research assistant at College of the Bahamas’s Marine and Environmental Studies Institute. Abaco’s scuba and snorkeling operators have watched the proliferation with alarm.

lionfish in abaco bahamas“Three years ago we knew the location of one lionfish in the Sea of Abaco,” relates Kay Politano, owner of Above and Below Abaco. “It was quite a novelty. We were impressed with its beauty and stillness; a perfect subject for photography. But within two short years we were finding up to 30 lionfish inhabiting nearly every log or piece of junk in the Sea of Abaco. We are now seeing at least one lionfish during every dive at Fowl Cay. They hide in small crevasses and under rocks, making them hard to see. When we do see one, the probability is there are many more.”

In June 2007, the Bahamian government and COB launched the Bahamas National Lionfish Response Project (NLRP), calling for reports of sightings nationwide. By August 2007, the project had received 207 reports of lionfish in 13 island groups. When the NLRP set out artificial marine habitats, lionfish inhabited them within three days. The pervasive fish has been found in ocean depths between four and 250 feet in the Bahamas, and in a variety of habitats and locales, including reefs, docks, beaches, and coastal mangroves.

Of greatest concern is the lionfish’s appetite for juvenile fish and crustaceans. Dr. Hixon and his graduate students witnessed one lionfish that ate 20 juvenile fish in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the invasive fish does not discriminate and will eat grouper, snapper, lobsters and other marine life not only crucial to the Bahamas fishing industry, but to the survival of native marine ecosystems as well. Sharks and grouper have been documented with lionfish in their stomachs, but as their populations continue to be hard hit from fishing, they are unlikely to balance the ecological scales now tipped to advantage this invader. The only hope may be another dominating and high-consuming predator: Homo sapien.

Lionfish are not only edible by humans, they are, in fact, quite tasty. According to the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, which urges Bahamians to “Go green – eat lionfish!” the colorful but dangerous creature is “sold as a food fish in the Pacific region.” There are even rumors from Asia that eating lionfish is an aphrodisiac.

Wearing thick gloves while handling the fish prevents punctures from its venomous quills. Once all of its fins have been cut
off, it can be filleted like any other fish.

Its venom becomes harmless when it is cooked. Filleted or pan-fried whole, the lionfish tastes – you guessed it - like chick-en. Abaco’s Friends of the Environment and the Bahamas National Trust hosted a presentation in Marsh Harbour last summer at which Alexander Maillis of Nassau demonstrated how to handle, clean, and cook lionfish. As the FRIENDS newsletter later reported: “Mr. Maillis gave us something to ponder when he informed the crowd that the fish he was cleaning were a portion of the 124 lionfish he had speared the previous day. Those 124 lionfish were caught within two hours in a one-mile radius off of the South Western side of New Providence.”

lionfish in abaco bahamasThe newsletter continues, “…Mr. Maillis removed a juvenile fish, fully intact, from the stomach of a lionfish which was just slightly larger than the juvenile it had swallowed.”

Lionfish are fairly easy to spear or to catch with a dip net. Fishermen have been encountering lionfish in their crawfish
“condominiums,” or traps, and spearing them over the past two years.

“During this past summer, the reefs at Fowl Cay were relatively free of these fish, thanks to Troy Albury from Dive Guana,” says Kay Politano. “Everytime we saw one on the reef, we called Troy to the rescue.

He did the spearing!”

The Department of Marine Resources aims “…to encourage the use of these fish as a food source, and even to sell them once the spines have been removed,” according to Director Michael Braynen. Hixon hopes that the Bahamas government will “actively promote local controls, possibly including a targeted fishery and even bounties.” Even these efforts, though, will not eliminate all lionfish. “Unfortunately,” Hixon says, “they can live to a depth of at least several hundred feet, which is beyond the range of most divers.”

Lionfish do not attack humans. Injury generally occurs by accidentally stepping on one, or handling them without gloves, although it is also possible to be “spined” without any venom being injected. In rare cases, however, the venom can result in seizures, pulmonary edema, or congestive heart failure, but, according to Smith, there have been no documented fatalities in the Bahamas. Tingling, blistering, and experiencing acute pain are the common reac-tions. As treatment, experts recommend applying very hot water and seeking medical assistance.

To learn more about this invasive species and its impacts on the aquatic Bahamas, the Department of Marine Resources and COB’s Marine and Environmental Studies Institute are collecting fresh or frozen specimens and can be contacted at (242) 302-4413. To report lionfish sightings, go online to www.breef.org. To watch Mr. Maillis’ demonstration of how to clean and cook lionfish, visit www.loggerheadfilms.com/lionfish.html. The U.S. Geological Survey also maintains an up-to-date map of the spread of the invasion which can be accessed on-line at nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/ FactSheet.asp?speciesID=963.



Catches of a lifetime Live to see another day

06 9th, 2009

By Athy Lionikis
Marlin Photos by Lee Stevens

Abaco Beach Resort fishing tournaments

Of all the pelagic fish that roam the seas around Abaco, the blue marlin is perhaps the most powerful, graceful and hardest to catch. But despite writer Ernest Hemingway’s dramatic account of battling the most difficult billfish in the stream, Abaco’s version of this adrenaline-pumping experience is no less exciting, challenging or inspiring, even with environmental considera-tions that did not exist in Hemingway’s day.

blue marlin fishing in Abaco BahamasOver the years, the photos of a huge marlin hanging from weigh scales, with proud anglers displaying unsure smiles,
have evolved into blue marlin flags flying from the rigging of sportfishing boats to signify a successful catch – and live release - of one of these magnificent creatures. These flags, with the silhouette of a blue marlin, have become the boat and angling crew’s “bragging rights,” and are flown high as symbols of fishing prowess and good sportsmanship. The fishing team has not only conquered the marlin, but has allowed the fish to swim away and continue to propagate the species.

There are many ocean-going migratory fish that make their pelagic passage along Abaco shores. Some are considered food fish, while others are prized more as big game sportfish. Tournaments for the latter focus on tuna, Mahi Mahi, wahoo, sailfish, white marlin and the granddaddy of them all, the blue marlin. They are extremely difficult to hook and catch, and their breathtaking jumps and greyhound leaps are spectacular. They can range in size from 200 to more than 1000 pounds, although only the females exceed 500 pounds, making live release all the more important.

My introduction to tournament big game fishing was a “Boy Scout” Blue Marlin Open held in St. Thomas, USVI a few years ago. Lee Stevens, a friend and well-known figure in the sport fishing world with his Marlin Magazine, recruited me as a volunteer. Lee loves to help with charity-based tournaments, especially those focusing on children, and he knew my lifelong career as a middle school teacher made me a sucker for volunteering. It was an exciting and eye-opening experience that left me hooked as an avid follower of the sport from then on.

blue marlin fishing in the abacosThe same motivations, and added enthusiasm, brought me to Marsh Harbour when I volunteered to help with the Abaco Billfish Challenge tournament two years ago. This annual event is held during the first part of June, with much of the proceeds going to the Abaco-based school for exceptional children known as “Every Child Counts.” The ABC Tournament, as it is known, is now in its third year. But while the past two tournaments have been held at the Abaco Beach Resort, the 2009 event will be hosted at Spanish Cay, June 21-24. There are several different formats for big game fishing tournaments, with the ABC catering more towards families rather than hard-nosed competition. It’s also a “boat tournament,” meaning anyone registered on an entered boat can try their hand at bringing in the big ones. It was particularly exciting for me as an ABC guest to watch the owner’s daughter catch her first white marlin, and their teenage son catch a Mahi Mahi. We all stood wide-eyed and slack jawed as the magnificent marlin skyrocketed from the cobalt blue water, trying to shake the lure from its mouth and sending cascades of spray
skywards. The marlin tail-walked for at least two minutes, then leaped like a greyhound along a foaming path 100 yards from boat, literally smoking the 30-pound class fishing reel. The fish’s tail beat the water like an outboard motor propeller. I’m not sure who was more excited, the kids, their parents ­– or me! The marlin was released after a 30 minute fight and, with the biggest grins you have ever witnessed, we hugged and high-fived each other.

Dockside in a big game tournament is fun and exciting. At the Abaco Beach Resort, and at Treasure Cay, visitors walk the docks, talk to the crews about the day’s adventures and soak up the atmosphere.

Just viewing these million dollar fishing machines is enough to take your breath away. Music, dancing, exotic rum-drinks and lots of revelry, sometimes with a “Junkanoo” band, is just icing on the cake.

Big game tournament season in the Abacos is from April through June. Most of the Bahama Billfish Championship Series is held here at the Abaco Beach Resort and at Treasure Cay, along with other very popular big game tournaments. “Abaco will host three BBC tournaments this year, one at Abaco Beach Resort and two at Treasure Cay,” says Mike Sawyer, manager of the Treasure Cay Marina. “We have 150 slips here and while we don’t know how many boats to expect this season, we have had as many as 70 to 75 boats in a tournament.”

blue marlin tournament fishing in the abaco islands of the bahamasTo stimulate participation this year in the 26th Annual Treasure Cay Billfish Tournament June 7-12, officials announced a first-ever guaranteed cash payout, ranging from $10,000 for a minimum of ten boats and up to $50,000 for the participation of 50 boats, plus a two percent fuel discount. Open to the public, the tournament format consists of multiple awards for billfish, plus awards for tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Release point standings are verified by the participant’s own digital and/or video camera with an image that can verify the time and date the photo was taken.

Other annual fishing tournaments this year in Abaco include the 22nd Annual Green Turtle Cay Fishing Tournament June 9-12 in Green Turtle Cay and the Abaco Anglers Fishing Tournament April 16-24 on Elbow Cay. Following is a list of this year’s eight big game fishing events in Abaco: BBC Central Abaco Championship, April 28 - May 2, Treasure Cay; Bertram-Hatteras Shoot Out, May 5-9, Abaco Beach Resort; HMY Billfish Blast, May 25-29, Abaco Beach Resort; BBC Boat Harbour Championship, June 2-5; Annual Treasure Cay Billfish Championship, June 7-12; BBC Treasure Cay Billfish Championship, June 16-19; Abaco Billfish Challenge (ABC) Tournament, June 21-24, Spanish Cay.

For more information, check out the resort websites, see advertisers at www.abacolife.com, or call the Abaco Tourist Office in Marsh Harbour at 242-367-3067.

(Athy Lionikis is a teacher and writer who lives in Topsail Beach, North Carolina. Photographer Lee Stevens is a freelance sport fishing reporter and co-founder of Marlin Magazine).



       
 

©  Jim Kerr, Abaco Life Magazine
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