CHARACTERISTICS OF SALT POND
The shape and character of our ponds are continually changing because of human influences as well as regular seasonal changes. Generally, the average depth of the salt ponds does not exceed one meter and some virtually dry up during dry spells. The ponds are replenished when they receive runoff from neighboring hillsides. Along with rainwater comes sediment which then settles in the ponds. The low elevation, low profile, and fragile nature of the seaward berms allow seawater to breach the pond during storms, periodically replenishing them with fresh seawater. Otherwise there are no natural surface water connections to the open sea, making St. Kitts’ ponds unique within the Caribbean.
The characteristics high salinity (ranging from 115 to 180 ppt) results from high evaporation of runoff waters which are then stirred by the winds, keeping the sediments in suspension. Accordingly, the smaller ponds, which are more protected from the winds, are less turbid.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SALT PONdS
Salt Ponds are generally classified as having high ecological value and low economical value. Few islands in the Lesser Antilles have large pond systems such as those found in St. Kitts. The ponds and their surrounding vegetation (e.g. Mangroves) serve as important habitats for wildlife including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Even during the dry spells the mud flats are important to shore birds and wading birds. Indeed, any study of shorebirds begins with a discussion of ponds.
Indeed the salt ponds are important wetland areas in St. Kitts. In addition to directly providing to the needs of terrestrial and avian species, they also protect many marine species. The ponds serve as sediment basins in collecting and filtering rainwater runoff which could severely damage ecosystems such as coral reefs and sea grass meadows such as coral reefs and sea grass meadows in the nearshore waters.
STATUS OF SALT PONDS IN ST. KITTS
Salt Pond communities compose upwards of 600 acres on St. Kitts of which some 400-500 acres are on the Southeast Peninsula. These ponds have had various uses over the years. Salt production has been carried out at both Little and Great Salt Ponds. Half Moon Bay Pond has been used for aquaculture. Muddy Pond has reshaped and has become an integral part for wastewater treatment. Currently, the salt ponds are in a condition of change throughout the system. Greatheeds Pond was once a freshwater pond and Friars Bay Pond use to be brackish. Presently, all the salt ponds in St. Kitts are more saline than the sea.
Unfortunately, there has been very little study done on the ponds. In recent years there have been diminishing numbers of birds and fish using the Frigate Bay ponds. Greatheeds Pond, a case study of the ponds throughout St. Kitts, is being threatened on all sides by encroachment and pollution. Several salt ponds are being considered for onshore marina development.
The Mangrove Community
· Provides a sink for rainwater runoff from surrounding hillsides
· Prevents sediment entering directly into the sea
· Protects the land from rough seas
· Provides roosting and nesting sites for birds in the trees and food in the ponds and on mudflats
· In a breeding site for insects and other invertebrates providing food to support a wide range of biodiversity
LIST OF SALT PONDS IN ST. KITTS
A – Greatheeds Pond (35 acres) F – Little Salt Pond (75 acres)
B – Half Moon Pond (27 acres) G – Great Salt Pond 270 acres)
C – Muddy Pond (14 acres) H – Majors Bay Pond (22 acres)
D – Frigate Bay Pond (18 acres) I - Cockleshell Bay Pond (14 acres)
E – Friars Bay Pond (10 acres) J – Mosquito Bay Pond (18 acres)
( All areas are approximate)
The Salt Ponds of St. Kitts