Nature Today

Volunteers will count endangered species in Sint Eustatius

Stichting ANEMOON
26-FEB-2017 - The underwater nature of the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius is particularly rich . Since 1996, the nature around Sint Eustatius is protected in a Marine Park, managed by STENAPA. However, marine live is under pressure by human activities. The ANEMOON Foundation is starting a project to make an inventory of the underwater nature with citizen scientists.

The inventory started in 2015 with the ‘Statia Marine Biodiversity Expedition 2015’. During this expedition the ANEMOON Foundation, together with the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and local partners, mapped the underwater life. Within three weeks' time over 1,150 different species of plants and animals were observed in the marine park.

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana)

To be able to give advice on the sustainable management of the underwater life in the future, it is important to monitor the changes and the distribution of species over time. The ANEMOON Foundation is a Dutch volunteer organization of citizen scientists interested in marine nature. In the Netherlands, ANEMOON has a successful long term project to monitor the marine nature with an extensive network of active citizen scientists (volunteers). The ANEMOON Foundation would like to set up a similar project on Sint Eustatius. The project, developed in close collaboration with STENAPA, aims to support tourists, expats and locals to count endangered and exotic marine species. By giving workshops and supporting volunteers, ANEMOON wants to raise public awareness for the underwater life on Sint Eustatius. We hope this awareness will result in more volunteers who are interested to participate in this project.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Field Guide to the Marine Life of St. EustatiusEveryone making a dive or snorkel trip on Sint Eustatius can easily contribute by using the "Observation Card" with 12 characteristic good recognizable species, developed bij the ANEMOON Foundation and STENAPA. Together, these species are a good indicator of the health of the marine nature around Sint Eustatius. The card for example includes sea turtles, a shark and a ray, species which are vulnerable everywhere in the Caribbean. Happily, around Statia the opportunities to observe these species are still good. After a swim or snorkel trip you can indicate on the card which species you have seen.

Of course there is much more to see than the 12 species on the Observation Card. The enormous variety of species, colours and shapes is brought together in a beautiful "Field Guide of the Marine Life of St. Eustatius". This guide contains photos of 234 species all photographed around the island. A free download of this field guide is available at www.anemoon.org/eux. More information on the marine species of the Dutch Caribbean is available at the website of the ANEMOON Foundation. For very active divers, snorkelers and beach combers, an extended observation form with 150 species is available.

More information

This project was supported by the Caribbean department of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.

Text: ANEMOON Foundation
Photos: Marion Haarsma (leadphoto: Peppermint goby (Coryphopterus lipernes))