The islands are arrayed around the edges of two large limestone plateaus, the Turks Bank, with deep offshore waters that serve as major transit points for Humpback whales, spotted Eagle rays, Manta Rays and Turtles. Anglers who are fishing for Tuna, Wahoo and Blue Marlin use these same rich waters. Bordering the edges of the islands are lines of coral reef and some of the most impressive walls of coral in the Caribbean.
In the last decade, divers have begun to discover some of the finest coral reefs and walls in the world in the waters surrounding the Turks & Caicos. From the legendary walls of Grand Turk, West Caicos and Provo's Northwest Point to the historic wrecks south of Salt Cay, a dozen world-class walls have become Mecca for the serious diver.
From late December through April, the entire Atlantic herd of 2,500 Humpback whales pass through the shores on their annual migration to the Mouchoir Bank, just 20 - 30 miles southeast. During this period divers can listen to an underwater concert of the whales' songs. During the summer, divers encounter Manta Rays cruising the face of the walls. Encounters with Dolphin are not uncommon.
The salt ponds and inland marshes serve as excellent feeding grounds for resident and migratory birds. Search for Great Blue Herons, Flamingos, Osprey and Pelicans alongside Egrets, Terns, Frigates, Boobies and other water birds. As part of the National Parks system, more than twelve small cays have been set aside and protected for breeding grounds.
On some of the less disturbed and smaller islands such as Little Water Cay or Great Sand Cay, it is the Turks island Iguana that dominates the land. The Iguana is endangered and delicate but it thrives on these deserted islands, away from the influence of man. These islands are also protected by the National Parks system. The National Parks were designed to protect the scenic environment and habitats, to preserve and conserve them for future generations as well as make them available for public recreation.
In 1992, the government set aside 33 specific protected areas, a list that includes nature reserves, sanctuaries and historical sites totaling more than 325 square miles. 210 square miles of this total amount are sensitive and ecologically essential wetlands ratified under the international Ramsar Bureau.