The Natural Diversity Of The Cook Islands
The Cook Islands, situated in the South Pacific Ocean northeast of New Zealand, is home to many magnificent and endangered species of wild animals as well as various tropical plant species. None of the wild animals are dangerous or poisonous and so it is a safe destination for nature-lovers and holiday makers alike. There are fifteen islands in total. On most of the islands you can find various species of birds, bats, whales, dolphins and turtles.
Host To Many Rare Birds, Mammals And Sea-Creatures
Rarotonga is the most popular of the islands and is host to the unique Rarotongan flycatcher. The Rarotongan flycatcher is in the top ten list of endangered birds. The male and females have the same coloured plumage which changes depending on the age of the bird. Young bird of a year old will have a bright orange feathers and a yellow base to the bill. Those older than four years old are grey with a black bill.
The raised volcanic island Atiu is also known as Enuamanu or ‘Island of Birds’. Here you can find the cave-dwelling Kopeka bird. They too are endangered with the remaining numbers found in only two caves on the island.
The island of Takutea has become a wildlife sanctuary and only allows visitors with government permission. There are various breeding programmes in place to encourage a resurgence of bird species such as red-tailed tropic birds, red-footed boobies, terns and frigate birds.
Fruit doves, reed warblers and the Mangaia kingfisher are some of the other rare birds that can be spotted on most of the other Cook Islands.
Insular flying foxes are abundant in the Cook Islands. These unusual bats live off nectar, pollen, fruit and honey. Unlike most other species of bats, they have reasonably good eyesight and a good sense.
The humpback whale visits Rarotonga between June and September. Visitors to the outreach centres can watch these huge mammals make their acrobatic manoeuvres in and out of the water. Beaked whales also pay an occasional visit to the islands as do spinner dolphins renowned for the way they spin and twirl several times in the air after jumping out of the water.
You may also be lucky enough to spot various species of turtles. Sea turtles and green turtles are the most common types. The most critically endangered of the turtles found on the islands are the hawksbill turtles. They live among the coral reef feeding on sea sponges, algae and jellyfish. In the past they were hunted for their shells and as a result are now on the critical list nearing extinction.
There have also been sightings of leopard seals on the Cook Islands, although this is quite far north of their usual habitat.
The Cook Islands, The Natural Choice
The Cook Islands is a recommended visit for anyone wishing to connect to nature. Whether you go bird-spotting on your walks in this year-round tropical paradise or swimming among the fishes, you are bound to feel a sense of connectedness. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the world’s rarest and most endangered animals and contribute to their success by visiting the information and conservation centres.