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Mount Plenty Cave

March 19 & 24, 2010

District: Mount Plenty

Parish: St Ann

WGS84 L/L: 18 19 54.3, 77 03 09.3

JAD2001: 744442 E, 686720 N

JAD69: 244331 E, 186431 N

Altitude: 370m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- 5m horizontal; +/- 15m vertical


Type: Chamber

Accessibility: Walk-in

Depth: 30m

Length: 162m

Explorers: GSD - 1951

Survey: GSD

JU Ref: pg 257

JU Map: pg 257

Entrance size: 10m W, 4m H

Entrance aspect: 90

Vegetation in general locale: Bush/pasture

Vegetation at entrance: Bush

Geology: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Poor

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None seen

Archaeo resources: None seen

Hydrology: Dry

Dark zone: 75%.

Climate: 23 deg C, semi-humid.

Bats: >5,000

Bat guano: Some

Guano mining: Occasional

Guano condition: Compact, fresh/fluff

Visitation: Occasional

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: Some

Trash: Some

Ownership: Private

Protection: Some

Vulnerability: High

Mount Plenty Cave
March 19, 24, 2010
Team: RS Stewart, J Pauel, S Sterling, D Selvyn, Kingman, NEPA
Notes: RS Stewart

Mount Plenty Cave was visited by the JCO in assistance to NEPA and their studies of the bats of the island. Initial site-finding, seeking of permission, and assessment was carried out by RS Stewart on March 19, 2010. Capture and release netting took place on March 24, 2010, with NEPA, and the JCO team.

The site is quite close to a local backroad, with this allowing for easy access not only by researchers, but also local guano miners. However, the manager of the estate, Gordon Cooper, prevents this activity as best he can, so the cave has some degree of protection. It is one of the more important batroosts on the island, and we are glad that this is the case. We are posting the position because of it, rather than reserving it as with some others.

The entrance is large, about 10m wide, and about 4m high. The cave consists of two branches, north and south, that meet at the bottom of a talus slope that extends down from the entrance. The southern branch is the one that most people visit, as the passage is high and wide for the entire length. The northern branch is entered by a crawl, and accordingly is less noticed and does not get as much traffic. Both branches have roosts, although the bat emergence for the northern branch occurs more at the westernmost of the three lightholes than at the main entrance.

Netting on March 24 was carried out with a harptrap at the main entrance. This required the placing of various tarps to concentrate the flow, and to partially block the eastern two lightholes. The third, because of its size, could not be blocked. Shortly before sunset, Donovan and Kingman began to monitor all three. When the emergence began at about 18:00 local time, they found that the blocking we'd placed at the first two was somewhat effective, although some bats did get past, but they reported a strong flight from the third. I went up to join them, and found a great stream of bats flying out. At that point, the crew at the main entrance still had nothing in the harptrap, and I began to fear that they would catch very little because we were diverting the bats out the most open exit. The three of us shone our headlamps into the hole in an attempt to discourage this, but many bats continued to fly out nonetheless. As the flow began to ebb, I returned to the main entrance, and to my surprise found that there was a steady number of bats being caught. As this continued, I realized that I had only seen two lightholes in the south branch during my recon visit, and the third must be over the north branch (I had not gone in far, and could not remember the details of the GSD survey). This was indeed the case, and we were therefore catching bats from the south branch, while the strong flow from the third lighthole was from the separate roost to the north.

A total of 104 bats were caught, with information recorded for 73. Species were P. parnellii, P. mcleayii, M. blainvilli, and A. jamaicensis. The first bat, a parnellii, was caught at 18:20, and the trap was closed at 20:08. P. aphylla, known from the cave, was not caught.

We would like to thank Mr Cooper for allowing us to visit the site, and hope that we can do so again in the future. I was alone during the recon visit, with an employee of the estate waiting somewhat impatiently for me at the entrance, and I did not have time to do a proper assessment. There is no information recorded for invasive species, or troglobytic invertebrate diversity.

It should be noted that this was the first JCO fieldwork for Sasha Sterling, and she did a fine job of helping record information during the netting (times and weights).

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