Monday, May 18, 2015

Little St. Simons Isl GA

The Georgia coast wears a necklace of barrier islands nestled in a large expanse of marshes.  Tybee, Little Tybee, Wassaw, Ossabaw, Blackbeard, Sapelo, St. Catherines, Wolf, Little  St. Simons, Sea Island, St. Simons, Jekyll, Little Cumberland, and Cumberland Islands; though similar in origin are each a unique jewel.
  • Four are developed, having bridges that span the marshes allowing tourist to flock to the "Golden Isles".  
  • Two have regular ferries that transport people on and off on a daily basis.  
  • Three have docks and semi-regular boat traffic for the people who inhabit the islands and their visitors.
  • Five are uninhabited.  

Recently I was able to visit St. Catherines Island, the only barrier island I had not previously visited.  The island is approximately ten miles long by two miles wide.  It has wide sandy beaches, extensive marshes and densely forested upland areas.  It is one of the islands with semi-regular boat traffic.    

Long before Europeans arrived on this continent, the island was used by Native Americans.  The first Spanish outpost in Georgia was built on this island, and the mission Santa Catalina de Guale was located on the island from 1602 to 1680.  Dr. David Hurst Thomas, from the American Museum of Natural History, who has been exploring the island since the mid-1970s discovered the location of the mission site, numerous shell rings and burial sites.  More than a million objects were identified from these explorations.    

St. Catherines is currently a private island owned by the St. Catherines Island Foundation, operated for charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes.  For many years the island was used by the New York Zoological Society for endangered species breeding research, and some these animals still inhabit the island.  Seven troops of Ring-tailed Lemurs still roam the island.  They are quite inquisitive and unafraid of people.  Some of the Lemurs have been fitted with collars that are used to track their movements around the island.

The Lemurs have narrow faces and long bushy tails with 12 to 14 alternating black and white rings.  Their dense fur is grey to reddish brown on their backs, white on their chest and they have triangular patches black fur around their eyes and nose.  I was drawn to the rich color and luminous quality of the Lemur's eyes.  This is due to a reflective layer behind the retina of the eye called the tapetum lucidum.

I made two small watercolor sketches of the Lemurs I met while visiting their island.