Mar 11

Located in the Caribbean Sea, the island of Montserrat is a fantastic place to observe pristine habitats on and offshore. A walk along the islands’ lush green coastline will make it clear why Montserrat holds the nickname ‘Emerald Isle’. However, the species of Montserrat are at a crossroads with both natural and human-caused environmental disturbances threatening some species with extinction.

Join the ARKive Geographic team as we take a trip to explore the species that make Montserrat so very special. We bet you’ll learn a thing or two about this little green gem that you didn’t know before!

Pigmented plumes

Photo of Montserrat oriole

The national bird of Montserrat, the Montserrat oriole has also become symbolic of the island’s conservation efforts. Recent volcanic eruptions in the country have reduced this species hill forest habitat to one third of its historic size. To safeguard the survival of the Montserrat oriole into the future, researchers and conservationists have embarked on a highly successful captive breeding program in the UK and populations should rebound barring any further volcanic disruptions.

Flashy fish

Photo of a queen triggerfish

Some might argue that a queen can have many moods however, not every queen can change colors to match them! The queen triggerfish has some very unique abilities with one of them being the ability to adjust the vibrancy of its scales depending on its mood. Another clever adaptation is the fish’s  ability to move its  eyes  independently of each other; a very useful skill for spotting danger.

Serene sea cow

Photo of a manatee

Speaking of species with fascinating abilities, the West Indian manatee has evolved to survive in both  freshwater and saltwater environments. If that isn’t interesting enough, recent evidence suggests that the manatees are able to detect pressure changes through a unique sixth sense: highly-tuned sensory hairs.

 Reticent reptile

Photo of a Montserrat galliwasp

While not much is known about this particular species, the Montserrat galliwasp faces threats that are still worth mentioning; the most critical being habitat loss. Environmental destruction (deforestation), fragmentation (splintering environments for development), and degradation (pollution and the introduction of non-native species) are all forms of habitat loss suffered by the species. As more information becomes available, Montserrat’s conservation efforts may help the galliwasp thrive, but until then this reptile’s biology and behavior remain a mystery.

Ambling amphibian

Photo of a mountain chicken frog

The mountain chicken frog may look unimposing but it actually has a carnivorous appetite and is considered the top endemic predator in Montserrat. Despite its place in the food chain, mountain chicken populations have been devastated by the deadly chytrid fungus. The mountain chicken stars in ARKive’s newest online education game, Team WILD, where players are tasked with evacuating non-infected mountain chickens from the island before they succumb to the fungus.

Photo of Team WILD play screen

The Team WILD game is a fun and unique way for students to discover the importance of a career in conservation and science – by turning scientists into superheroes! See if you can beat the current high score for saving the most mountain chicken frogs on Montserrat. Or, if you’re more interested in chytrid conservation news, check out a more in-depth ARKive blog on healthy frog reintroduction efforts.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual visit to Montserrat with us. If you’re not yet ready to return to the mainland, why not explore the 200+ species on ARKive that live on or visit the waters around Montserrat. And don’t forget to test your species-saving skills in Team WILD!

Andrea Small, Education and Outreach Intern, Wildscreen USA

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