COME HAVE A WHALE OF A TIME IN TURKS AND CAICOS

Experience the migration of humpback whales off the coast of Grand Turk and Salt Cay this winter

Winter brings much excitement to the quiet, tropical islands of the Turks and Caicos (TCI).  The destination welcomes ‘snow birds’, winter weary travelers, from the northern hemisphere and the surrounding waters welcomes one of nature’s most dramatic shows – the migration of magnificent humpback whales; a real treat for whale watchers, adventurers, and local water sports operators.

While watching is said to be one of the most amazing experiences to live. Every year at this time these magnificent humpback whales travel through the Columbus Passage from as far away as Iceland and Greenland to give birth on the Silver Banks southeast of TCI and north of the Dominican Republic. This migration occurs from late January until early April.

While these graceful and majestic giants are a wonder to behold, and come close by all of our islands, the shores off Grand Turk and Salt Cay offer the best viewing. Getting to Grand Turk and Salt Cay is easy.  Local airlines offer daily flights (about 30 minutes one way) and once there, you can take a trip with a local excursions operator.  You can even go snorkeling or scuba diving to see the whales!  Hotel accommodations are available on both islands, too.

If you’re unable to take a visit to Grand Turk or Salt Cay, you may still be in luck. Scuba and snorkel operators in Providenciales see the whales every year as they gently surface and glide through the waters just off Grace Bay Beach. Divers and snorkelers delight in the long and complex songs of the male whales as they presumably sing mating songs to their better halves.

Humpback whales are very social and regularly travel in groups of two or more. On special occasions, especially near the end of the mating season, you may see the whales returning home with their calves.

Observing the migration of humpback whales is one of the many fantastic activities the Turks and Caicos has to offer and reason enough to pay us a visit between January and April, which is when they visit us.

 

EARTHQUAKE AWARENESS WEEK TO BE OBSERVED FROM JANUARY 8th – 14th JANUARY, 2016

The Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) will observe Earthquake Awareness Week for the sixth year, from January 8th - 14th, 2016. The intention is to sensitize residents and visitors to ensure they can effectively respond to an earthquake event. In addition, the DDME aims to strengthen the Earthquake Preparedness and Response Capacity of the Disaster Management System, by building resilience to earthquake impacts at the National and Community Level. The overall goal is to have the TCI more resilient to earthquake impacts by implementing the necessary safeguards save lives and protect property.
 
Dr. Virginia Clerveaux, Director DDME, reporting on the DDME’s progress to date stated that “at the National Level, the DDME has drafted a National Earthquake Contingency Plan 2017, which is based on the CDEMA Regional Earthquake Contingency Model.” This Plan informs Responder Agencies regarding the actions that should be taken before, during and after an earthquake event, In fact, the Plan will be tested through a Table-top Exercise, scheduled for January 12th, 2017, prior to finalizing and submitting for Cabinet Approval. At the Community Level, DDME will continue to engage educational institutions, through drills and exercises and the general public by disseminating public information via print, radio, television and social media”.
 
Specifically, several activities have been planned to commemorate the Week, which include:
 
1. January 8th Church Service – 10:00am, at Rock of Jesus Ministry – Bishop Bryant Cox, Five Cays, Providenciales.
 
2. January 9th – Communication Tests (Email, Text, Telephone, Satellite Phone, Radio, Whatsapp etc.) & Media Interviews
 
3. January 10th - Earthquake Drills in South Caicos at various schools
 
4. January 11th - Earthquake Drills in North Caicos at various schools
 
5. January 12th –Earthquake Table-top Exercise with Multi-Stakeholder Agencies & Media Interviews
 
6. January 13th –Hazard Hunt in Various Schools in Providenciales
 
7. Distribution of Brochures and Pamphlets
 
8. Publication of DDME Quarterly Newsletter
 
9. The DDME will also be featured on Radio Turks and Caicos during the week of January 8th 2017 during one of its programmes.
 
As we observe the Week, it is important to reflect on the victims of the devastating earthquake, which struck Haiti on January 12th, 2010. With a magnitude of 7.0 and a depth of 13km, the earthquake event resulted in approximately 220,000 deaths and severe damages to an estimated 250,000 residential buildings and 30,000 commercial buildings. Following the devastating earthquake, at least 52 aftershocks, measuring 4.5 in magnitude shook the country, some of which were felt in Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos and Providenciales. According to the Preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment (PDNA) published by the Haitian Government in March 2010, the cost of the damage was at an estimated US$7.9bn, with the reconstruction cost at US11.5bn.
 
As Haiti and the rest of the world commemorate the seventh anniversary of that fateful day in Haiti’s history, it is fitting that the TCI pause to reflect, share expertise and pledge to do what is possible to ensure that all persons in the TCI are as prepared and ready in the event that the country was to experience a similar event.
 
The question that must be asked whether “it will happen?” rather than “when will it happen?” To answer the latter, it is important to consider TCI’s vulnerability to earthquakes and related hazards. Taking into consideration the geographical location of the TCI, the Puerto Rico Trench (an active plate boundary between North American and Caribbean Plates), an active plate boundary, makes TCI vulnerable as it is located approximately 150 kilometers to the north of the Trench. Moreover, the Caribbean is a very active seismic region. Home to three live volcanoes, over a thousand earthquakes happen annually, although the magnitude of many are too small to feel. This region has experienced major earthquake events which has triggered several tsunamis; the most notable being Haiti in 2010. In fact, the area between the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands average more than a dozen measurable earthquakes every week.
 
According to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Country Risk Profile for the TCI, the islands are vulnerable to earthquake and tsunami risks, but at a low to moderate level. Earthquakes cannot be predicted with any level of accuracy and we cannot prevent them from occurring. However, we can be prepared to respond to an earthquake event whether it be in the TCI or abroad. This theme of preparedness will be the ethos of the activities planned to mark this year’s sixth annual Earthquake Awareness Week by the DDME. The Department is seeking to raise awareness regarding measures to implement, to ensure that you survive the next earthquake. As minor
 
preparation can possibly save your life and that of your family, ensure you have a Family Plan to deal with any emergency.
 
Individual, schools, businesses or community groups interested in learning more about what can be done to become more resilient to earthquake impacts can call the Department’s offices in Grand Turk telephone # 649 946 2177 or Providenciales telephone # 649 946 4521 for more information or to schedule a presentation.
 
DDME is also encouraging the residents to visit our Facebook and Twitter Page to obtain tips on earthquake preparedness and ways in which you can make yourself, your family and your community more resilient to the impacts of earthquakes.
 
###
 
For further information please Contact: Andrea Been Email Address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone #: 649 338 3672 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TCI.DDME 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDMETCI
Skype: ddmegt

MINISTER OF EDUCATION GIVES GREETINGS ON THE START OF SCHOOL TERM

Today is a great day,
 
I consider it a privilege to be greeting you all, as your new Minister for Education. It is an exciting day for me as I join in welcoming back the over 6,000 students, their principals and teachers from both public and private schools from the Christmas vacation season. I extend greetings for a bright and prosperous New Year and of course a most productive and exhilarating new school term. 
 
I am excited to begin my introductory tours around the islands to meet all of you, to see and hear firsthand about some of your accomplishments and challenges. I am of the firm view that we will be successful when all of us are involved and committed to finding solutions and improving what we do as a team. 
 
As your new Minister it is my desire to ensure that we put in place the necessary, policies, tools, training and other resources to achieve my government’s goals for education. Our nation’s youth and their education is a key priority for my government. 
 
I consider this portfolio one of the most important. I am especially eager to review the Special Education Needs Policy and review plans and develop working groups that will forge a strong Special Needs response here on the Islands. Of course, Technical and Vocational Skills training, the review of the Curriculum are some of the areas we highlighted in the Throne Speech , which will be given special emphasis.
 
For now, however I want to thank all teachers for their dedication and ask that you continue to motivate your students to work hard.  Be role models to them. I ask parents to be involved in the progress of their children and their schools. I look forward to working with PTAs and other private sector entities to address many areas within the Education Sector. My team and I look forward to us doing great things together in education. Welcome back.