Tag Archives: Caribbean wildlife

Possible Thylacine Sighting Has Blacktip Island Residents Abuzz

A photo a Blacktip Island hiker captured Thursday, showing what he claims is an extinct Tasmanian tiger. (photo courtesy of Lee Helm)

A pair of Blacktip Island residents exploring the small Caribbean island’s rugged interior Thursday captured an image of what they claim is a long-thought-extinct thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger.

“We was out in the bush, looking for ghost orchids, when all of a sudden this thing just exploded out of the bushes,” Lee Helm said. “Me and Alison barely spotted it before it bolted off through that thick underbrush. Just had time to get the one photo, but it’s definitely a Tasmanian tiger. Nothing else it could be.

“There’s been reports of them popping up all over the world lately,” Helm said. “Just a matter of time before one came to Blacktip. They’re a migratory species, you know.”

Alison Diesel corroborated the story.

“It was plain as the nose on my face,” she said. “I only wish people’d stop saying it was spotted. It had stripes. Duh. And if there’s one, you know there’s more. That tangley brush on the bluff is the perfect place for them to hide. There’s plenty to eat, too, with iguanas and the landfill chickens.”

The island’s scientific community questioned the sighting.

“There are no records of any thylacines outside Tasmania for nearly 100 years,” wildlife biologist Fozzy Kritter said. “They’ve been extinct since the 1930s. And Tasmania’s an island on the other side of the globe. How would they migrate? Build a raft? There’s also been no verified thylacine sightings, or bones or skulls found, anywhere between Tasmania and here. I don’t know what Lee and Alison were smoking. Or photographed. It was probably a feral cat. In the photo, I mean.”

Helm and Diesel stood by their claims.

“Fozzy’s just hacked he didn’t see it first,” Diesel said. “And of course it didn’t build a raft. That makes zero sense. It hopped on a cargo ship. All kinds of exotic animals get here that way.

“Thylacines are quite clever,” Helm said. “Why do you reckon there’s none left in Tasmania? They knew folks were hunting them and hid in shipping containers. The next time this container was opened was here on Blacktip. No great mystery. And it’s not a Tasmanian tiger anymore. This is a Blacktip Tiger now.”

Diesel said the pair have launched plans to further substantiate their claim.

“We set up trail cameras all through that patch of jungle, and around the dump,” she said. “Only photos we got so far, though, were of Dermott Bottoms and James Conlee crawling on all fours, both drunk as skunks.

“We’re building live-capture traps, too,” she said. “Big enough to catch a tiger, but let the cats and iguanas and what-have-yous slip out.”

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Blacktip Island Bar-Goers Plan Nocturnal Platypus Hunt

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Two Blacktip Island residents hope a Friday night hunt will prove their claims of a platypus living in the mangrove tangles behind the Caribbean island’s Sand Spit bar. (photo courtesy of Cori Anders)

Two Blacktip Island drinking aficionados will stage a nocturnal platypus hunt Friday at midnight behind the Sand Spit bar to prove their claimed platypus sightings are neither a hoax nor alcohol-induced hallucinations.

“Tired of folks doubting us, laughing at us,” handyman Dermott Bottoms said. “Me and James Conlee, we seen the platypus a bunch of times. Comes out of the mangroves late at night. Usually Friday, Saturday, sometimes Sunday. Came over on a shipping container, like as not, like green iguanas do.

“Wander down there to pee, you got a good chance to see it swimming around,” Bottoms said. “It moves real quiet, and is real shy, but it’s by-God a platypus. Got the duck bill, the beaver tail, everything. Only way to stop folks making fun of us is to catch it, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Conlee said their plan relies on participation of other Sand Spit patrons.

“We got some big nets we set up on either side of the Spit,” he said. “One end anchored to the shore, the other strung out wide on long poles. As soon as we get a sighting, people’ll wade out with the nets in big semi-circles and surround it.

“Gonna get some beaters, too, to chase it into the nets,” Conlee said. “We got it all worked out. Once we catch it, we’ll take it to the university so they can make it official. Then we’ll laugh at the laughers.”

Tiperon University-Blacktip officials are dubious about the reports.

“The university will have no part of this,” TU-B chancellor Donna Requin said. “There is no way a venomous mammal indigenous to eastern Australia migrated to Blacktip Island. And there is zero chance a platypus survived months inside a shipping container, undetected through multiple container repackings, to land here.

“You think it’s a coincidence the only people who’ve seen this thing are Dermott and James?” Requin said. “Who only see it late at night, at the bar where they’ve been drinking all evening? The only thing swimming behind the Sand Spit is their rum-fuelled imaginations.”

Some residents say they plan to attend the hunt, whether there is an actual platypus or not.

“Not much happens on Blacktip, so this’ll be something fun to be a part of,” resident Gage Hoase said. “The biggest worry is James or Dermott might actually catch a platypus and get envenomated. They probably wouldn’t feel it after all the booze they down, but still. Platypus or no, it’ll be a laugh to get out there with the nets.”

Requin agreed.

“They won’t catch a platypus, but if a bunch of drunks is going to wade out with giant nets, there’s no way I’m missing that kind of comic gold,” she said. “I’ll bring Marissa from the clinic, too. There’s bound to be a near-drowning or two, or someone’ll step on a stingray, and they’ll need someone medical on hand.”

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