Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin


Journal #37 RNNSM

Réserve Naturelle de St-Martin


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Les post-larves - The post-larvae

Positive results in the LIFE program to protect two grouper species

As we mentioned in our most recent issue of this Journal, in October 2019 the staff of the Réserve began to collect larvae as part of the European LIFE BIODIV’OM program for the preservation of the Nassau grouper and the giant grouper, two globally endangered species. After this preparatory part of the project, the Réserve will now put its knowledge to work by collecting the post-larvae fish—sadly more than 90% die before settling by our shores—with the goal of identifying the grouper, isolating them, allowing them to mature in an aquarium, before releasing them in their natural milieu once they have reached a size that allows them a better chance of survival. Two exploratory collections took place in January and February 2020, over the course of seven consecutive nights, when the moon was not very bright to maximize the efficiency of the light on the sampling devices. The first results were very encouraging, especially in terms of the number of individuals as well as the diversity of the species observed. The difficulty was identifying the grouper among all the newly spawned fish, so certain examples were placed in an aquarium until their identification can be certain, then have been be returned to the sea. This exploratory phase, which comprises the identification of the larvae and the calendar for the arrival of the alevins— all species do not reproduce at the same time—should have been completed by May, but was delayed by the arrival of Covid-19 on a worldwide basis.

Réserve Naturelle de St-Martin

To promote the conservation of seagrass beds and related marine plant species

Corail cerveau - Brain coral

This action, defined as part of the management plan, will take place thanks to financing from the French Office For Biodiversity (OFB). The consulting firm, AquaSearch, will participate in 2020 as part of a new project to update the cartography displaying the underwater habitats within the Réserve Naturelle, and especially the essential habitats for sea turtles, namely the underwater sea grass beds for green turtles and the reefs for hawksbill turtles. The current maps were part of the management plan for 2010–2015, but date from 2007.+ infos

Mouillage à Tintamare - Moorings at Tintamare

The Réserve: expert in environmental moorings

responsible for supervising improvements for the Port Authority of Saint Martin, helped install banks of permanent moorings intended for recreational boats. The goal is to reduce the usage of anchors by providing the permanent moorings, which are environmentally friendly, at sites managed by the Port Authority, such as the bay in Marigot. The Réserve Naturelle, which has installed moorings at three sites—Tintamare, Rocher Créole, and Pinel—, benefits from many years of experience in this area and can bring its expertise, with an eye toward safety, sustainable management, and the protection of the marine biodiversity. In fact, these...+ infos

To promote the conservation of the coral reefs and related species

Suivi scientifique annuel des récifs et des herbiers Annual scientific study of reefs and sea grass beds

Cooperation between reserves

Since 2007, the Réserve Naturelle has conducted its annual scientific study of the reefs and underwater plant beds. In 2019, this took place on September 9-12, with the support of a representative from the Réserve Guadeloupéenne de Petite-Terre. He came to help the staff in Saint Martin document the evolution of the overall health of the coral communities and sea grass beds, at stations both in and outside of the perimeters of the Réserve. This year, this ongoing study was complemented by a study of groupers, as part of the LIFE program, on four of the eight sites that were observed. These sites will be the focus of a bi-annual study, until the...+ infos

To promote the conservation of the sea turtle population

Tortue tuée par un engin nautique

Eight sea turtles killed in 2019

Eight sea turtles died in 2019 due to collisions with a boat or a jet ski. And four others were found stranded on the shore since the beginning of 2020. These numbers concern only those turtles found on the shore and brought to the attention of the Réserve Naturelle. How many others may have been victims of such collisions at sea that went unnoticed? It is important to note that it takes 25 years for a sea turtle to reproduce and that only one in a thousand actually reaches that age. Sadly, these accidents impact mature sea turtles as well as juveniles that have not yet had the chance to reproduce. And a large number of sea turtles found on our...+ infos

Une tortue verte sur l’herbier de Tintamare A green sea turtle feeding on sea grass at Tintamare

Green sea turtles VS humans

Do green sea turtles modify their nutritional habits in sea grass beds in the presence of humans? Or not? The first phase of a two-part study took place November 10-22, in low tourist season, and was continued in high season, between Christmas and New Year. The goal is to characterize the interactions between green sea turtles and humans, specifically at the sea grass beds at Anse Marcel and Baie Blanche in Tintamare. Benjamin de Montgolfier, director of the maritime consulting firm, AquaSearch, led the project with funding made possible by the French Office For Biodiversity (OFB). The results of this study will contribute to the establishment of...+ infos

Rencontre sur le site du chantier - Meeting at the site

Limit the impact of work on the beaches

An architectural firm doing work to protect a villa from storm surge requested that the Réserve Naturelle to provide advice on the site along the coast at Baie Rouge, a site favored by sea turtles during egg-laying season. After getting the obligatory administrative authorization, the architect responsible for the project—a wall comprised of steel pilings deeply driven into the sand—decided to seek professional advice to limit try and best minimize the impact on one of the most sensitive sites, and just at the beginning of the 2020 egg-laying season. On January 21, Julien Chalifour and Aude Bergé met with the architects and the...+ infos

Tortue imbriquée - Hawksbill turtle © Julien Chalifour

Updating the Atlas of sea turtle egg-laying sites

Fifteen years ago, in 2005, the Réserve Naturelle created an Atlas of sites in Saint Martin where sea turtles lay their eggs. Regularly updated, this document required a major overhaul post hurricane Irma. The job was entrusted to Manon Gomez y Gimenez, a master’s degree candidate in ecology at the University of Montpellier, and an intern at the Réserve from March through August 2020. She will evaluate the overall state of each beach where turtles traditionally lay their eggs: the surface of the sand; a description of the natural vegetation; and also various factors of deterioration, from construction to visual sources of...+ infos

Protection du nid par ruban de sécurité Protection of a nest with security tape

Turtles Alone On The Beaches

The beaches were closed while the island was in confinement, which means the volunteer team created by the Réserve Naturelle was not able to monitor the egg-laying activities of sea turtles between March 17th and May 11st. However, witnesses have reported five traces typical of leatherback turtles on the beach in Orient Bay, which has been the most popular egg-laying spot as of March 1st. The nests have been protected with the help of security tape, and the good news about being confined means that tranquility is guaranteed for the nest and the hatching, which in theory maximizes the chances of success. The Réserve noted three egg-laying instances...+ infos

To maintain or improve local conditions for marine mammal populations

Séance d’entraînement d’immersion d’une balise

Listening to marine mammals

The managers of the protected marine areas in the Caribbean met in the Dominican Republic on October 30-November 4 2019, at the invitation of Cari’Mam (see inset). A majority of the meeting was a discussion of the project to install 20 under- water acoustic beacons throughout the Antilles archipelago from Trinidad to Bermuda. These submerged beacons will record the songs of marine mammals within an area of 10 nautical miles (18.5 km) during one minute, followed by a pause of four minutes in order to extend battery life. The beacon specific to Saint Martin was put into place during the first week of January, 2020, outside of the Réserve Naturelle,...+ infos

To maintain or improve local conditions for nesting bird populations

Formation baguage sur le terrain… Training program on the field...

Study the birds to better understand them

To better understand the avifauna of the French West Indies: that is one of the goals of the French Office For Biodiversity (OFB), which encompasses the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB) and National Office For Hunting And Wildlife, as of January 1, 2020. One of the ways to improve our knowledge about these birds is by banding them, and the OFB organized a training program on March 9-13 2020 in Guadeloupe. Focused primarily on the banding of shore birds, this training was important for Saint Martin, an island where the salt ponds have numerous and diverse avifauna. Led by two specialized ornithologists from the French National...+ infos

To maintain or improve the ecological health of the salt ponds

La pépinière de palétuviers - The mangrove nursery

Creation of a mangrove nursery

The Réserve Naturelle has obtained authorization from the Collectivity to create a mangrove nursery, the goal being to replant mangrove seedlings in the ponds where the vegetation was decimated by hurricane Irma. Funding from the Rotary Club makes this possible. The project team collects seeds, pods, and seedlings in the field and works day after day to grow them in structures they build themselves. The seedlings are places in biodegradable pots made of sugar cane fiber, then placed in the silt where they can further develop.+ infos

Surveillance of the island and police

During the period of confinement, the Réserve Naturelle has maintained its surveillance activities on land and at sea, in order to enforce the regulations. Several individuals who tried to take advantage of the confinement situation to go fishing in the waters of the Réserve or engage in a commercial activity were obliged to abandon their plans after being reprimanded by the Réserve, which works in close collaboration with the nautical brigade of the national gendarmerie.

Environmental Police Activities

In 2019, the technical office and nature police of the Réserve Naturelle carried out 423 patrols from January through December 2019: 306 patrols on...+ infos

Avant... Before..

865 kilos of tile dumped at Galion

On February 19, 2020, the Réserve Naturelle had to remove 865 kilos of broken tile that had been dumped illegally at Galion by a professional builder, and carted to the ecosite at Grandes Cayes. Luckily, an eyewitness was able to note the license plate of the vehicle used by the offender. The Réserve Naturelle lodged a complaint that was sent to the public prosecutor.+ infos

36 lambis sortis de leur coquille 36 conch out of their shells

Poaching of protected species

On April 21, 2020 at around 2pm at Galion, a guard of the Réserve Naturelle surprises two individuals coming out of the water with masks snorkels, and fins, and heading toward a vehicle. The guard reminded them that swimming is prohibited during confinement and fishing is also forbidden in the waters of the Réserve. He then backed off, but with the intention of coming back to the site. A few minutes later, he saw the two men running toward him, each with a large bag in his hand, and split off into two different directions. The guard called the gendarmerie, where no one was available to help, but a territorial police car arrived just in time to...+ infos

On April 29, the Réserve seized a trap recently placed offshore by the beach of Coralita, in the middle of the Réserve Naturelle. The fish were set free and the trap destroyed and transported to the eco-site at Grandes Cayes.+ infos

Pêche illégale pendant le confinement

On May 1, while the island was under full confinement, the Réserve surprised four fishermen who arrived at Pinel by kayak. All very young, at first they denied that they had been fishing then had to admit their crime after two underwater spear guns and the fish they caught were found. The kayak, as well as their fishing gear, was seized, and the Réserve reported them for illegal fishing.+ infos

Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

Sculpture anatomique d’un dauphin… Anatomical sculpture of a dolphin…

New pedagogical tools

Contour Global, the company that runs one of the two Galisbay electric plants, met with the Réserve Naturelle on the subject of pedagogical tools to promote environmental protection, for which they are providing financing of 14,000€. An agreement was signed with the Réserve, which will make these activity notebooks and binoculars available to students to help raise their environmental awareness. At the same time, anatomical sculptures of a dolphin, a turtle, and a tropicbird are being completed. They will allow the students to discover the essential internal organs of these three animals, as can be seen in the photos below. The goal is to invite the...+ infos

Sensibilisation sur le terrain avec Vincent Oliva Awareness in the field with Vincent Oliva Oliva

Reinforcing environmental education

In 2019, 26 classes were regularly taken on field trips to help raise their environmental awareness, a subject also taught in the schools. With this in mind, seven agreements were signed, with the French Quarter and Soualiga middle schools, the Robert Weinum high school, the professional high school, Happy School, Marie-Antoinette Richards school, Clair Saint-Maximim school, where two classes received the label “Educational Marine Area,” as assigned by the French Office for Biodiversity. A sixth grade class at the Soualiga middle school also benefits from this label. The idea for these students, with the advice of the Réserve, is to define...+ infos

Sea Discovery Day

The Réserve at Sea Discovery Day…

As it is every year, the Réserve Naturelle took part in Sea Discovery Day, organized by Métimer, the association of nautical professionals, on November 27, 2019. A total of 230 kids among the most disadvantaged on the island, were able to discover the joys of navigation aboard boats provided by sponsors of the association. After landing on the small island of Tintamare, these kids were able to enjoy swimming and aquatic games, as well as a long walk with the team from the Réserve, to teach them about the fragility of the ecosystems.

… And at the Heineken Regatta

Once again this year, the Réserve Naturelle worked with the...+ infos

Plongée virtuelle

Virtual diving in the Réserve Naturelle

Accompanied by the NGO, Blue Finance, the Réserve Naturelle has launched a virtual reality project designed to allow the public to discover the underwater milieu that is protected. Equipped with virtual-reality helmets, participants find themselves submerged and surrounded by coral, sea grass beds, and can discover underwater flora and fauna as if they were actually diving. The event is itinerant and was hosted in its initial phase by the Hommage Hotel at Nettle Bay, then at SXM Music Festival, before being put on hold in early March with the confinement of the population. The goal of Blue Finance is to put its expertise and its...+ infos

Optimizing management means

Le guide et l’application mobile

A guide to restore and revitalize the mangrove

A technical guide titled “The Restoration Of The Mangrove” and a mobile application intended to facilitate the work of the managers of humid zones, both created by the Resource Center For Wetlands, were presented to Julien Chalifour an Christophe Joe, respectively in charge of the scientific office and the guards at the Réserve Naturelle, as well as to the National Forests Office, the National Office For Hunting and Wildlife, several environmental associations, and the managers of wetlands in the French Caribbean islands. The French committee of the International Union For Conservation of Nature hosted training in Guadeloupe on...+ infos

First meeting of the CSTPN of Saint Martin

Since November 7, 2019, the Collectivity of Saint Martin has had its Territorial Scientific Council For Natural Heritage (Conseil scientifique territorial du patrimoine naturel or CSTPN), a regulatory obligation carried out in the past by Guadeloupe for Saint Martin. Composed of 19 members, all scientists, this group is charged with providing advice on all questions relative to the conservation of the island’s natural heritage, and especially the impact of development projects on protected sites. The first meeting of the CSTPN was held on January 24, 2020 at the prefecture in Saint Martin. Michel Vély, president of the Megaptera...+ infos

Jim Ruos

A generous donation

On March 12, 2020, the Réserve Naturelle received a donation of close to 3000€, bequeathed by Mary Ruos, the widow of Jim Ruos, who passed away on December 29, 2019 at the age of 85 in Virginia. A biologist by training and adept at falconry, Jim Ruos worked for 21 years at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, primarily interested in turtledoves, but also migratory birds and birds of prey, especially the peregrine falcon. He was the first American to suggest funding countries that promote protection of migratory bird habitats. In the late 80’s, he and his wife decided to create the company Caribbean Islands Travel Service, which met with success in the...+ infos

Perspective de l’espace scénique - Section rendering of the interior

3 questions for Véronique Descharrières

How would you describe the building in just a few sentences?

What do you consider to be the purpose of the ICBI?

The Caribbean Institute For Insular Biodiversity is a tool in the arsenal for the future development of Saint Martin, to help define strategies based on ecotourism, sustainable development, university and scientific research, social development through the creation of jobs, economic development, and regional and international cooperation. This project proves the principle that buildings and living creatures are inevitably linked, and that it is possible to produce environments that satisfy all of the various...+ infos

Reinforcing local and regional commitment to the Réserve

Saint Martin at the heart of a strategic document

On November 5, the Réserve hosted a technical atelier in its offices, which was led by the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB), the local representative of the Direction de la Mer and its local agent, ImpacMer. The idea was to collect the necessary elements to edit a strategic document for the maritime zone of the French West Indies, including Saint Martin. The Saint Martin port authority was present, alongside the Direction de la Mer, DEAL, the Collectivity of Saint Martin, and Métimer, the association of nautical professionals. The challenge was to define the existing uses and pressures put on the zone and localize them. The...+ infos

Forum et colloque autour des aires marines protégées à Biarritz Forum and colloquium in Biarritz on protected marine areas

Nicolas Maslach and Julien Chalifour went to Biarritz on November 21-25 for the management forum for protected marine zones (AMP), during which the managers shared their experiences before participating in the fourth national colloquium for AMP’s, and the colloquium for protected terrestrial areas. Organized by the French Office for Biodiversity (AFB), the French committee of the IUCN and the minister of ecological transition, the goal of the AMP colloquium was to bring together all those concerned with biodiversity and have them contribute to the development of the next national strategy for protected marine areas, to ensure netter management of their network, and to implement the...+ infos

Sortie sur le terrain - A field trip À Saint-Martin, les espèces exotiques envahissantes sont nombreuses, à terre et en mer, et notamment : la liane-corail (Antigonon leptopus), l’iguane commun (Iguana iguana), le singe vert (Chlorocebus sabaeus), la mangouste indienne, l’algue Haliphola stipulacea, le poisson-lion (Pterois volitans). Sans parler du chat, animal de compagnie friand de caresses, mais aussi redoutable prédateur des oiseaux et lézards qui fréquentent nos jardins.

On February 10-14, 2020, Julien Chalifour went to Martinique to participate in a national workshop on the management of exotic invasive species as organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in France. The point person for this field in Saint Martin, Julien Chalifour worked alongside other experts from metropolitan France and almost all of the overseas territories, all concerned by this important subject. This workshop provided an opportunity to synthesize the current challenges for each territory, to identify the strongest threats, current and future, and to share the results of each participant’s experiences. The invasion by exotic species constitutes one of...+ infos


Nicolas Maslach

- Nicolas Maslach

Directeur et Conservateur de la Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Saint-Martin, assermenté.
Tel : 0690 38 77 71

Franck Roncuzzi

- Franck Roncuzzi

Responsable du pôle police de la nature et logistique, assermenté.
Tel : 0690 57 95 55

Julien Chalifour

- Julien Chalifour

Responsable du pôle scientifique, assermenté
Tel : 0690 34 77 10

Vincent Oliva

- Vincent Oliva

Responsable du Pôle Education à l’environnement, assermenté.
Tel :0690 53 59 01

Christophe Joe

- Christophe Joe

Garde animateur et technique, assermenté

Ashley Daniel

- Ashley Daniel

Garde animateur et technique,

Aude Berger

- Aude Berger

Chef de projet LIFE BIODIV'OM - Pôle scientifique .

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