This week, I find myself on Grand Cayman…I just pinched myself…and yes, I am still sat on Grand Cayman. I am here to explore some of the most pristine carbonate environments in this corner of the world, so that I might better understand similar environments that I often sample from the fossil record. The submarine ridge that supports the Cayman Islands defines its geology, topography, as well as the rich environments that support a diverse flora and fauna. The carbonate shelf that fringes the islands support prolific coral reef communities while the lagoons and mangrove swamps inland support a vibrant terrestrial community. It is times like this that I realize how little we have to work with when reconstructing ancient communities, of which a fossil assemblage only represents but a fraction of the extinct ecosystem.
|Stingrays at Stingray City (Grand Cayman) Image courtesy of Jim 'Rayman' Gobetz|