About Andros Island

Overview of Andros  

Andros is the largest island of the Bahama Archipelago, which consists of more than 700 islands. At more than 100 miles long and 40 miles wide, it is the fifth largest in all of the Caribbean [1]. The sparsely populated Andros is laced with creeks and has a densely forested inland. The island's western coast is still largely uninhabited and is home to the West Side National Park.

Today, compared with other Bahamian islands, Andros has a much smaller population with fewer than 8,000 people [2].  Most of the settlements on Andros Island are located on the eastern coast, with one settlement on the western coast called Red Bays. Because Andros is split in half by cays and inlets, transportation between the north and south islands is not possible by land. 

History and Culture

The eastern coast of the island is home to more than half the population centralized in 3 main towns: Nicholl’s Town, Andros Town (aka Fresh Creek), and Congo Town [1]. There also are a number of Mennonite missions, a few small resorts, and the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) - a NATO base run by the US Navy. 

Although Andros is roughly 200 miles off the coast of Florida, the language and culture are distinctly different from the United States. Virtually untouched by the tourism industry common to other Bahamian islands, Andros remains a rural area characterized by small tightly-knit communities.

The history of Andros includes a colorful array of farming, fishing, sponging, and logging, Arawak, Lucayan, and Seminole Indians, European explorers and colonizers, slaves, pirates, bootleggers, and smugglers.

We share a common language, but Bahamian English carries influence from African and island dialects and is often spoken more quickly than standard American English [3].  Visitors who embrace the Androsian people and their culture will be richly rewarded and educated by the experience. The lack of development on Andros enhances its environmental uniqueness and makes it an ideal site for our field station.

Flora and Fauna

Andros lends itself well to terrestrial studies since its size correlates with its diversity. Andros is a subtropical island with at least five distinct vegetation zones. Savannah, coppice, swash, and mangrove areas are all accessible for field studies. In both wetland and forested areas, over 200 endemic and North American birds have been included in long-term bird counts.

Reptiles include the endangered Bahamian boa, several different species of Caribbean Sea turtles, and a variety of anoles. In the summertime, look for land crabs. Along the coast, compare the rocky shores to the white sand beaches and ask to visit some excellent invertebrate tide-pooling areas.

More than 50 species of wild orchids thrive in the subtropical forests and the wetlands of Andros. Commercial flower collectors have been known to set fire to the pineland coppices to collect the sharp-petaled bletias that flourish in ashy soil. The orchid genus Epidendrum has nine species endemic to the Bahamas, all of which can be found on Andros [4].

crab.jpg

Geologists are attracted to many features in the Bahamas, including the thick limestone foundation of the island, dramatically cut by deep channels. The geology and topography of the island is distinctive, with 178 inland and 50 oceanic blue holes and a network of underwater caves [5].

 

 

Andros By Sea

snorkling.jpg

When people think of the Bahamas, they visualize white sandy beaches, a balmy breeze, and azure, crystal water. Andros has all of these in abundance, but perhaps the barrier reef is the most stunning feature. The Tongue of the Ocean near the reef separates the islands of Andros and New Providence and is a U-shaped trench that varies in depth from 3,600 ft to 6,000 ft. and is approximately 20 miles wide by 150 miles long [6].

Just one of several marine habitats, the reef runs the full length of the island. The Andros reef is the third largest fringing reef in the world, second only to Australia and Belize, and is considered by many to be the most diverse and pristine. The reef has both fringing and barrier characteristics and supports a colorful and amazing diversity of life. It offers a tremendous variety of 10 to 25 foot deep gardens abloom with both hard and soft corals, some of which emerge from the seas at low tide.

You don't need to be a scuba diver to enjoy the benefits of the ocean. Our snorkeling sites described in the “Sites and Sights” guide offer fantastic views of a great variety of fish, coral, and other invertebrates. Exotic fish species that make this place home provide a pleasurable kaleidoscope for divers and snorkelers alike. In the waters off the shores, you will find marlins, tarpons, sailfish, tunas, snappers, jacks, plus other game fish around the barrier reef [6]. Occasionally, snorkelers enjoy the rare privilege of playing with wild dolphins that may join in for a dip off the beach at Forfar.

 
Androsia Fabric

Androsia Fabric

Economy and Culture

The economy on Andros consists of the sponging industry, sport fishing, tourism and diving, wood carving, basket weaving and the production of Batik fabric (Androsia). Androsia is a distinct, bright fabric that is created through a unique process involving hand carved stamps and hot wax.

 

Climate

The temperature on Andros is gorgeous all year long. The single most important climatic agent affecting the Andros weather is the warm trade wind. During the winter months, the Gulf Stream warms the island, in May, southerly trade winds return to gently cool them [7] [8].

Average monthly temperatures:

Average Highs: Jan 77°    Feb 78°    Mar 80°    Apr 82°    May 85°      Jun 87°     Jul 89°     Aug 89°     Sep 88°     Oct 86°    Nov 82°     Dec 79°

Average Lows: Jan 62°    Feb 62°     Mar 64°    Apr 66°    May 70°     Jun 73°     Jul 75°      Aug 75°     Sep 75°     Oct 72°     Nov 68°    Dec 64°

Average water temperatures:

Jan 74°    Feb 74°     Mar 75°     Apr 78°     May 80°     Jun 83°     Jul 85°     Aug 86°     Sep 85°     Oct 83°     Nov 80°    Dec 76°


Citations

[1] "Andros." The Official Site of The Bahamas. The Islands of the Bahamas, 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[2] "Bahamas Andros." City Population. 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[3] "Our Language." The Official Site of The Bahamas. Accessed March 07, 2017.

[4] Campbell, David. The Ephemeral Islands, A Natural History of the Bahamas. p. 42

[5] "Incredible Blue Holes of the World." The Weather Channel. Accessed March 07, 2017.

[6] "Andros Barrier Reef and Tongue of the Ocean." The Official Site of The Bahamas. Accessed March 07, 2017.

[7] "Andros Town The Bahamas Monthly Weather."The Weather Channel. Accessed March 10, 2017.

[8] "Andros Town Sea Temparature." Global Sea Temperature. Accessed March 10, 2017.