Please DO feed the bats!

A photograph of the first Jamaican fruit bat bat fouond on St. Thomas since the hurricanes.
The very first Jamaican fruit bat found on St, Thomas, post-hurricane! (Photos by Renanta Platenberg in the Saint John Source.

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week! I am enjoying my summer vacation. I have been sleeping late and relaxing.

I’m sure you all remember the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean last year. Hurricanes Irma and Maria did a lot of damage. It has been easy to forget about the hurricanes in the 9 months that have passed, but people living there have been unable to forget. Over 14,000 people in Puerto Rico are still without power. People are still rebuilding their homes. Not only has been difficult for people living there, but it has also been difficult for the animals. Luckily, they are starting to recover.

I have some good news about the bats in the US Virgin Islands. Some bat species recovered from the hurricanes relatively quickly. The Pallas Mastiff Bat is one of those species. They feed mainly on insects, so they were able to continue to find food. Fruit bats were not so lucky. The hurricanes took down the trees on the islands destroying the food source for the fruit bats.

Renanta Platenberg, a researcher at the University of the Virgin Islands has been studying the bats on the islands for many years. After the hurricanes hit, she and her team went out in search of bats to see how they were doing. It was months before they were able to find any bats. Instead, they saw birds dying of hunger. Then they found out that bats were dying on St. Croix. The hurricanes had destroyed the food source for the three fruit bat species on the island.

Ms. Platenberg came up with what I believe was an ingenious way to help the bats. She went on social media and asked people to put bananas and other fruit out for the bats. Thanks to the people of St. Croix helping the bats, the animals are beginning to make a comeback. Recently, a Jamaican fruit bat was spotted on St. Thomas! It may only be one bat sighting in 9 months, but it gives hope to those searching for more. It also gives hope to people like me, who believe there must be more where that little guy came from.

If you would like to read more about the bats on the islands, you can do so here.

 

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