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The Salt Flats in Exuma

The salt flats in Exuma are located near Williamstown on Little Exuma.

For thousands of years salt was an essential component of civilization. Only those who had access to salt were able to sail long distances and have useable preserved meat and fish. In fact in Roman times the Centurions were paid in salt.

In the middle ages when empires were being built, and explorers were financed to find new lands, one of the commodities that  the ships were looking for was an easy access to salt.

The early settlers in The Bahamas realized this demand and used the shallow flat land around what is today the settlement of Williamstown, to meet this need and provide them with an income.

The land was channeled to allow sea water to flood the land at high tide to a shallow depth and then the warm tropical sun worked its magic by evaporating the water leaving pure sea salt. This was then raked into pyramids to dry.

Then the message had to be provided to the passing ships that this was where they could purchase fresh sea salt to preserve their purchases of fresh meat and fish.  Hence the need for the monument, reputed to be 200 years old, to indicate that this was where you should anchor off to provision.

At its peak the output was reputed to be 10,000 tons. The flats are not commercially worked now but you can still purchase sea salt locally, ask at Santanna's Bar and Grill for details.

Written by don amesbury

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