The tropical islands of the Bahamas are known for their unique animal encounters. The Bahamian rock iguana, for instance, is pink in colour and likes to see tourist boats. The swimming pigs are another unusual encounter on the islands. Stingrays, West Indian flamingos, Abaco parrots, Tiger sharks, and great hammerhead sharks are some of the other unique animal encounters in the Bahamas. For more information on the subject, keep scrolling down!
Unique Animals You Are Likely To Encounter In The Bahamas!
1. Bahamian Rock Iguana
With only a few alive at present, the Bahamian rock iguana comes first on every list of unique animal encounters in The Bahamas. Their pinkish hue is what sets them apart, and also, they are unusually friendly towards tourists. If you visit the Exuma islands, Allen’s Cay, in particular, you will surely see these unique-looking creatures scurrying up to tourist boats.
2. Swimming Pigs
You won’t have encountered any other animal like the swimming pigs that live on Big Major Cay. No one really knows who brought them here, although there are several stories attesting to their origin – all with no credible sources. Swimming pigs are extremely friendly and depend on tourists for their food. Apples and lettuce seem to be their favourite foods.
3. Southern Stingrays
Affectionally called the sea pups, Southern stingrays are a unique but common encounter in the Bahamian waters. The water here is known for its clarity, so swimmers and snorkellers can easily see southern rays swimming right across them. They too are used to tourists and will come to you for food.
4. West Indian Flamingos
The main animal encounter in The Bahamas, west Indian flamingos take shelter at Inagua National Park. You can see thousands of them here. They spend most of their lifetime on their feet; they do everything, including napping, while standing on their feet. The extraordinary pinkish hue is the most unique feature of the West Indian flamingo.
5. Abaco Parrot
Their white patch on the head and the reddish hue hidden among their feathers are the two most unique features of the Abaco parrot; they seem to be green and white in colour, but their red colour becomes visible when they are in flight.
Abaco parrots are the only nesting parrot species in the Bahamas, which, incidentally, works to their disadvantage; these animals often become a meal to snakes, wild cats, and boars. And the stormy weather doesn’t help matters either; their nests become overrun by rain showers during the wet season.
However, the remaining population of these parrots are conserved and protected, so they are not likely to disappear any time soon.
Your visit to the Bahamas isn’t complete if you don’t sign up for an adventurous shark dive. Stuart Cove in Nassau is the best place for shark encounters, and visitors are offered a list of tours. The great hammerhead shark dive and cage-free tiger shark are the most thrilling and sought after!
6. Bimini Dolphins
Another unique animal encounter in the Bahamas is Bimini dolphins, but they are a common encounter as the Bahamian waters are a favourite habitat for these dolphins. They will swim alongside your boat and do spins and dives just to entertain you. These dolphins are some of the friendliest animals you’ll see in the Bahamas.
In the marine mammals section, we discuss the types of dolphins found in the Bahamas in detail.
7. Eleuthera Turtles
Winding Bay Beach on Eleuthera is the perfect spot to see turtles. The waters that connect Winding Bay and Half Sound provide excellent living conditions for these turtles. To see them, sign up for a kayaking trip. Although you can be within close proximity to them, you should resist the temptation to touch them!
Another creature that inhabits the seabed of the Bahamas is the conch. A shy creature that often sinks back into its shell upon contact, the conch is a staple food in the country; a variety of dishes feature conch as the main ingredient. Most Bahamian boat tours include a conch meal and are guided by a conch hunting expert!
9. Sea Stars
One of the most beautiful marine animals in the Bahamans, sea stars populate the crevices of coral beds; you can see them on snorkelling or diving tours. These creatures live on a diet of oysters and shellfish. The most noteworthy factor of sea stars is that they can produce lost body parts; for example, they can produce a new body out of a limb. Their gorgeous appearance is often an alluring guise that conceals their carnivorous nature.
Bats are a unique and strange encounter in the Bahamas. You can find around 10 species of bats on the Bahamian islands, and they like to keep to the dark atmosphere of caves you find in the country. Bats are nocturnal creatures, so, during the daytime, you’ll see them hanging upside down from the damp ceilings of the caves.
Although they make for an eerie atmosphere, they pose no threat to humans, so add them to your list of must-see Bahamian animals.
11. Bahamian Racoon
An endemic species found in the Bahamas, the Bahamian racoon is a subspecies of the common racoon found mainly on New Providence Island.
1. Blue Whale
With a large and slim body, the blue whale is one of the largest mammals living in Bahamian waters. The skin is smooth with no hair, and the colour is greyish blue with a lighter blue on the underside. The straight tail has two rubbery flukes at the end.
2. Killer Whale
This is the largest member of the dolphin family with a life span of about 100 years. The killer whale has a round and large body with a dorsal on its back. The colour is black with white patches on the underside and near the eyes – although newborns have an orange hue on the white parts of their bodies.
3. Sperm Whale
Reminding people of Moby Dick, the sperm whale is the large, toothed whale that traverses the Bahamian waters; its large head is the most recognisable feature. The whale also has an organ containing wax, which is heated and cooled depending on whether or not it wants to sink or come near the surface of the water.
4. Humpback Whale
The Humpback whale is the largest among whale species and has large flippers; the size of their flippers is about one-third of their body. They have black and grey colours, and their belly has white patches. The hump of the humpback whale is what sets them apart.
5. False Killer Whale
The name false killer whale is derived from the fact that these whales have features similar to the killer whale. However, the false killer whale is not a whale but a dolphin with white patches between its flippers; it also has grey marks on its head.
6. West Indian Manatee
With a large body, West Indian Manatee has tough skin and a few thick hairs. The body tapers to its tail and is grey-brown in colour. The front limbs of the manatee have two flippers, and the tail looks like a paddle. One of the noteworthy factors of this animal is that its molar teeth are replaced continuously.
7. Cuvier’s Beaked Whale
Taking shelter in the offshore waters of every ocean, Cuvier’s beaked whale ranges from dark grey to rusty brown in colour; the colour seems to lighten as they age. The adult whale males have large, cylindrical teeth. This whale species was thought to be extinct, but they turned out to be alive in the ocean.
8. Sei Whale
Much more slender than other whale species, the sei whale possesses a tailstock that connects with the flukes. They have a pointed snout and short pectoral fins. Dark steel in colour, the sei whale has white patches on its body.
9. Common Bottlenose Dolphin
The most commonly seen dolphin species in the world, the common bottlenose dolphin has a dorsal fin positioned on its back, and it also has front flippers and flukes. The fin is curved and tall, which is the most identifiable feature of the common bottlenose dolphin.
10. Spinner Dolphin
With a slender and small body, the spinner dolphin has a triangular-shaped fin and a slender beak. The colour and size vary according to the dolphin’s locality, but they are all dark grey in colour, with white markings on their underside.
11. Risso’s Dolphin
With a prominent bulbous head that seemingly emerges from the upper jaw, Risso’s dolphin is known for its unusual appearance. These creatures have white markings on the sides of their bodies, which are believed to be the result of fighting or playing. Risso’s dolphins are born grey, and they become chocolate brown as they grow older.
12. Striped Dolphin
This dolphin has the usual appearance of a dolphin. What makes them unique though is the colouring of their back, which ranges from white to light grey. Their underside is lighter in colour, and these dolphins are called streakers due to their unusual ability to move faster than boats.
13. Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
Another marine creature found in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic spotted dolphin is a medium-sized dolphin species with dots spread over their bodies. These dots are white; some of the dolphins don’t have dots, while the others are covered with white dots.
Dangerous Animals Of The Bahamas
The thread snakes, blind snakes, Bahamian boas, pygmy boas and the brown racers are among the dangerous animal species found in the Bahamas. They pose no real mortal threat to humans, but you might want to keep away from them.
Extinct Animals Of The Bahamas
Brace’s Emerald is a hummingbird species no longer found on the Bahamian islands. They were endemic to New Providence Island.
The Caribbean Monk seal which was believed to live off the waters of the Bahamas is also considered to be extinct due to human causes.
Endangered Animals Of The Bahamas
The Bahamas is home to several endangered species that are an inherent part of the Bahamian ecosystem. The list includes Bahamian rock iguana, West Indian flamingo, Bahamas hutia, White-cheeked pintail, Piping plover, Loggerhead turtle, and Hawksbill turtle.
Endemic Species In The Bahamas
The list of endemic species in the Bahamas is an extensive one. Conception bank silver boa and Bahamian pygmy boa constrictor are two endemic snake species spotted on the Bahamian islands. The other species on the list include:
- Bahamian Funnel-eared Bat: A bat species that is native to the northeastern Caribbean.
- Pholidoscelis Maynardi: A species of lizard found in beach zones with the loamy and sandy consistency of soil; you might also see them in vegetative and rocky zones.
- Northern Bahamian rock iguana: A species of iguana found in the Exuma Islands and Andros Islands
- Bahama Oriole: Another native of the Bahamas, the Bahama oriole is a species of songbird.
- New Providence Cusk-Eel: Another name for New Providence cusk-eel is Bahama cavefish. This is a species of cavefish found in blue holes, chasms, and inland caverns.
- Mocis Bahamica: This is a moth species endemic to the Bahamian islands.
- Bahama Warbler: A bird species native to the Bahamas, the Bahama Warbler can be spotted on Little Abaco, Great Abaco, and Grand Bahama; pine forests are their favourite habitat.
- Bahama Yellowthroat: This bird species inhabits pine woodlands, thick vegetation, and marshlands. You can see them in Blue Hole National Park and Stafford Creek.
- Bahama Swallow: Found only in the Bahamas, the Bahama swallow is mostly seen in pine woodlands, but you might also encounter them in towns.
- Bahamian Hutia: A type of hutia, Bahamian hutia likes to hang about in tropical lowland forests, rocky areas, and shrublands.
- Red-legged Thrush: A bird species endemic to the Caribbean, the red-legged thrush can be sighted in The Bahamas, Dominica, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola.
- Bahama Woodstar: This is a hummingbird species seen on the Bahamian islands as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands.
- Thick-billed Vireo: Another endemic bird species of The Bahamas, the thick-billed vireo can be seen on forest edges with thick vegetation.
You might find this related article helpful: Do the Bahamas have Mosquitoes?
Where To See Animals In The Bahamas
1. Inagua National Park
The park was opened in 1965 with the purpose of providing shelter for West Indian flamingos. Home to about 60,000 flaming-red flamingos, Inagua National Park is also home to 140 migratory and endemic bird species.
2. Pig Beach, Exuma Cays
Head over to Big Exuma Cay on a powerboat to see the most famed creatures of the Bahamas: the swimming pigs. Pig Beach is located on Big Exuma Cay, and no one really knows how these pigs came to be here.
3. Lucayan National Park
Located in Nassau, Lucayan National Park features several nature trails through its lush forests and mangroves. You will encounter a diverse range of migratory and endemic bird species here. There’s also a cave system with evidence of the pre-Columbian settlements.
4. Baha Mar
Baha Mar is home to several sites where you can see wildlife. The Sanctuary, where you can see nurse sharks and turtles, is one place you should go, and if you have more time, go to Flamingo Cay and the Aviary.
5. South Bimini
Visit the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation in South Bimini for amazing shark encounters. Purposed for shark conservation and research, the centre also welcomes visitors with the draw of petting and touching young sharks.
6. The Abaco Islands
To see and feed stingrays, sign up for a feeding tour while on the Abaco Islands. Brendal’s Dive Center in Green Turtle Cay, for example, offers you a snorkelling tour with a variety of marine life encounters.
7. Cat Island
You can now join a tour while on Cat Island, where you can get to watch the turtles getting tagged. The best time for the tour is in September; this is when you can see the roundup of the 300-pound turtle.
8. Grand Bahama Island
The UNEXSO on Grand Bahama Island offers snorkelling tours where you get to swim with sharks. You’ll be guided by an expert and taken to Shark Alley located in Freeport, where you can see guides interact with sharks.
9. Andros Island
For a fishing expedition, visit Andros Island. The ghost fish, a challenge to spot and catch, will be your quarry with the expert guidance of those who’ve mastered the art of hooking and netting these fish.
10. Clifton Heritage National Park
Another wildlife marvel of New Providence Island, Clifton Heritage National Park spreads over a land area of 208 acres. While the park is home to several beaches, you can also witness numerous archaeological sites here.
11. Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
To see migratory and endemic birds thriving amidst Bahamian greenery, visit Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve. In addition to birds, you will also encounter a range of herbs and trees here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bahamian Wildlife
What Is The Main Animal of The Bahamas?
The Flamingo is the official national animal of the Bahamas. Inagua Islands is the best place to see them; there are over 50,000 flamingos living on the island.
Are There Many Sharks In The Bahamas?
Yes, there are several species of sharks thriving in the Bahamian waters. Around 40 species of sharks have been spotted so far.
Learn more about Sharks in the Bahamas here: Sharks in the Bahamas
Are There Alligators or Crocodiles In The Bahamas?
No, there aren’t any alligators or crocodiles in the Bahamas. There’s evidence to prove that they might have once lived on the island, but they no longer exist in the Bahamas.
Are There Deer In The Bahamas?
Deer are not to be found here in the Bahamas.
Are There Squirrels in the Bahamas?
There are no squirrels to be found in the Bahamas.
Are There Monkeys In The Bahamas?
No, there are no endemic species of monkeys living in the Bahamas.
Are There Lions In The Bahamas?
There are six sea lions living in the Bahamas, but you won’t see any land lions here.
Do The Bahamas Have Snakes?
Yes, the Bahamas do have snakes, but they are not known to be dangerous; however, you should keep away from them; if you are travelling with kids, make sure they don’t go near snakes.
This topic is discussed in detail here: Are there snakes in the Bahamas?
How Many Animals Live In The Bahamas?
At present, there are 160+ tracked animal species living in the Bahamas – the list can extend with time. The islands are home to birds, snakes, rats, bats, and numerous species of marine animals.
Has A Nurse Shark Ever Killed A Human?
There have been incidents where nurse sharks have bitten humans and this includes both unprovoked and provoked bites; however, provoked attacks are not common. If you want to see nurse sharks, it’s always best to go on a guided tour led by an expert.