George Washington in 1760 called them our “Isles of perpetual June” without having glimpsed some of their greatest marvels—iridescent insect-sized bee hummingbirds, half-ton nesting leatherback sea turtles, parrots revered as reincarnated human ancestors, carnivorous plants clinging to cork palm survivors from Cretaceous times, brilliant underwater coral-reef sea life.

Christopher Columbus saw the Caribbean’s thousands of small islands and islets covered with dense forest and filled with birds. European colonizers destroyed much of these to put in crops—indigo, coffee, sugar, and later bananas—and in the process introduced rats, goats, and mongeese which devastated native flora and fauna. Visitors today come mostly for resort life but increasingly they are interested in ecotourist destinations as well, and environmental groups have become active in saving what is left, including places that deserve ranking with some of the outstanding wildlife reserves of the world.

More about the Reserves in caribbean

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