CBBC presenter Naomi Wilkinson reveals her favourite islands, with thrilling natural encounters kids will love
As presenter of CBBC’s Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some of the world’s most incredible island outposts. As well as discovering that some of the earth’s most-feared beasties aren’t as scary as you might think, these trips also opened my eyes to the perils our planet is facing.
The Bahamas was a pinch-yourself moment. The nature and landscape was incredible, although I usually have to do something scary when I’m in paradise, and in the Bahamas it was lots of snorkelling with sharks. It’s the best place to see them. I got to snorkel with great hammerhead sharks that are massive, but they simply weren’t interested in me – they’re just focusing on finding food they do want to eat. It’s a real treat to observe them and amazing to be in the water with them.
We also helped tag and carry out health checks on juvenile lemon sharks in the mangroves with local kids, to teach them about conservation. We were with shark education experts Jillian Morris-Brake and husband Duncan Brake. Jillian goes to all the local schools in the Bahamas and Florida, working hard to change the perception of sharks. We kill around 100 million of them a year, and yet there are fewer than 10 deaths a year from shark attacks. Jillian has a huge shark tattoo on her back and even conducts shark weddings! We got to swim with wild Atlantic spotted dolphins, too – that’s up there as one of the best wildlife encounters of my life.
It’s so special if an animal chooses to hang out with you when there’s no reward of food, as they’re choosing to be with you and interested. There were about 10-15 dolphins with us for a good few minutes, jumping over us. At Compass Cay Marina, the nurse sharks come onto a platform so tourists can feed them. You can even touch them. Here, I met the coolest dude ever – Tucker – who feeds them. Big Major Cay in the Exumas – an archipelago in the Bahamas – is also famous for its swimming pigs.