Tag Archive: turks and caicos

An Enchanted Place to Make New Friends

June 20, 2013 4:05 am

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The story of JoJo and Toffee

A friendship that will inspire us always

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay offers a unique combination of unearthly solitude and unpressured opportunities to connect with other club guests. Cocktail hour in the upstairs lounge tends to be special time to share island-exploring stories, browse through stacks of photo albums and bring some animated closure to a day of quiet reflection, and unhurried exploration. Guests flock to each other striking up lively conversations while indulging in chilled cocktails and mouth watering appetizers. Brimming with stories to share, an unexpected and enduring camaraderie is forged amongst strangers who hail from all corners of the world and whose shared experiences have intertwined and forever connected one to the other as a result of their time on this tiny Caribbean island.

Much like the human connections which have formed on Pine Cay, this perfectly-isolated haven in the Turks and Caicos was the setting for one of the best documented and truly incredible friendships.

It all started when a former Meridian Club manager, Francois de Vouvay, adopted a young Labrador/Potcake pup named Toughie in the early 80’s. This gregarious dog, renamed Toffee due to his dark golden color or perhaps Francois’ French accent, took easily to life on Pine Cay, taking long swims and frolicking on the shore. His antics soon caught the attention of a marine passerby.

JoJo, a young, Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) took interest in the canine and began swimming fairly close to the shore at Pine Cay to attract Toffee’s attention. Dolphins, by nature, are very social and choose to travel in pods; however, JoJo was a rare solitary dolphin who still craved interaction. When JoJo made an appearance, Toffee would excitedly swim out to meet the dolphin and the two would spend hours playing in the shallow water. The animated and friendly interaction stirred many guests at The Meridian Club to venture into the turquoise waters to join the pair for a once-in-a-lifetime swim.

Jojo and Toffee off the shores of Pine Cay Jojo and Toffee off the shores of Pine Cay

When Francois left the island, Kevin, the new manager adopted Toffee, and shortly after Kevin left the island Toffee was adopted by Tim Ainley and Cookie Kellar who moved him to Turtle Cove on Providenciales .

JoJo, missing his playmate, was quick to scout Toffee out, and took to following Tim’s boat when Toffee was on board. Toffee, delighted to be discovered, would jump overboard and the two would re-enact the exuberant play of their days on Pine Cay.

Over the years JoJo’s celebrity rose as local naturalist Dean Bernal’s long time friendship with the dolphin became the stuff of documentaries. In 1989, JoJo was declared a National Treasure of the Turks & Caicos Islands. That same year Dean was appointed as JoJo’s official warden having intercepted several near fatalities involving naturally-curious JoJo swimming too close to motorized equipment.

In 1995, Robin Williams talked about JoJo in the movie Dolphins: In The Wild and in 2000, Pierce Brosnan narrated an IMAX movie titled Dolphins – footage of JoJo’s playfulness captivated the world. Canine and cetacean remained friends throughout JoJo’s meteoric rise to stardom!

The story of friendship between JoJo and Toffee will live for years through those who were fortunate enough to witness the spectacle of dog and dolphin. In 1996 at 15 years of age, Toffee was laid to rest. He was taken back to his beautiful beach on Pine Cay to be buried in view of the Caribbean waters that were his first playground. A year following Toffee’s demise, a feature film titled Zeus and Roxanne starring Steve Guttenberg was released. It told an eerily similar story of a dolphin, Roxanne, befriending a dog, Zeus. Whether Toffee’s story inspired the screenplay, we will never know.

In recent years, JoJo has been spotted with his mate and son, JoJo Jr. or affectionately known as MoJo. JoJo continues to visit Pine Cay and was back – alone – playing off shore just a couple of weeks ago.

If you should be enjoying a quiet walk along the breathtaking beach on Pine Cay and happen to catch a view of JoJo, please be sure to share your story at cocktail hour when you get together with your new friends…and, if you think of it, raise your glass and drink to old friends.

A facebook page called Dean Bernal & JoJo the Dolphin has been established for those who are interested in following JoJo’s story.

Pine Cay Project Announces Sciences Grant to H. J. Robinson High School, Grand Turk

May 21, 2013 2:18 am

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Grant creates new opportunities in sciences

Over $600,000 provided in Turks and Caicos Islands education grants since 2002

Pine Cay Project today announced its grant for $11,171 to H. J. Robinson High School to permit the high school’s purchase of advanced equipment for the school’s science laboratory.  The new equipment will permit the delivery of science instruction that includes interactive learning experiences using state-of-the-art scientific technology.

H. J. Robinson High School, the only government high school on Grand Turk, serves 415 students in forms 1-5.  The high school’s application to Pine Cay Project stated that the new equipment would improve students’ knowledge and understanding of basic and advanced science through tactile, hands-on learning activities. Examples of the types of new equipment to be acquired include oxygen gas sensors, dissolved oxygen sensors, carbon dioxide sensors, photosynthesis tanks, barometers, radiation sensors, and measures for temperature, pH, gas pressure, and voltage.  To make maximum instructional use of the new equipment, the school expects to deliver specialized training to current science teachers.

Commenting on the new learning opportunities, Pine Cay Project Chair Elizabeth Pickman stated:  “With these new instructional tools, the students of H. J. Robinson High School will be able to convert their learning of scientific concepts and skills to deeper scientific understanding.  These opportunities will permit the emergence of capable, committed young scientists.”

Gracious Acknowledgement

In her letter to Pine Cay Project, Hon. Akierra D.M. Missick, Deputy Premier, Minister of Education Youth, Sports and Culture states, “Pine Cay Project continues to prove true our theme this year which surrounds success through partnerships. On behalf of the Government of TCI, I am pleased to extend our thanks to the Pine Cay Project for its continued efforts and we look forward to further similar initiatives which will strengthen the education of our children.”

About Pine Cay Project

Pine Cay Project has recently made a series of grants to TCI schools to create or improve their science labs.  Residents of Pine Cay, a private island getaway, formed Pine Cay Project in 1989 for the purpose of improving student learning across the Turks and Caicos Islands. Over the past 10 years, Pine Cay Project has awarded approximately $600,000 in grants to TCI schools, the TCI Community College, the Turks and Caicos National Museum, the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (for its summer environmental science program), and other organizations.  Members of the Pine Cay Project board include George Bunting (Baltimore), Marie Landel (Boston and Paris), Carlton Mills (Provo), Elizabeth Pickman (Washington, DC), Beverly Plachta (Pine Cay), David Rochat (Chelsea, Vermont), Jay Saunders (Provo), and Terry Smith (Buffalo, New York).

May 1, 2013

To read the newspaper article please visit TCI Journal.