La Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin est une aire marine protégée de 30km2 située au nord-est de l’île de Saint-Martin. Créé en 1998, cet espace préserve les cinq principaux écosystèmes de l’île : récifs coralliens, mangroves, herbiers de phanérogames, étangs et forêt sèche littorale. La Réserve gère également les 14 étangs du Conservatoire du littoral et ses 11 km de rivages terrestres naturels.

Newsletter-22

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Newsletter-22

Toute l’équipe de la Réserve naturelle vous présente ses meilleurs voeux pour 2015 !
The entire staff of the Réserve Naturelle wishes you all the best for 2015 !

The entire staff of the Réserve Naturelle wishes you all the best for 2015 !

Edito Flavien Noailles - Assistant prosecutor Saint Martin / Saint Barthélemy

At first glance, many of you might wonder what a member of the public prosecutor’s office is doing writing the editorial for a magazine about the Réserve Naturelle of Saint Martin. On the surface, our functions are so very different, from sanctioning and punishing on the one hand, to protecting flora and fauna on the other, that one might actually wonder what we talk about when we meet. Yet, the same principles that govern their actions allow us to work together : respect for others, respect for our natural resources and the sites they represent, as well as listening and offering service as needed.

These are not just empty words. They are a reality that translates to day-to-day actions taken by Réserve Naturelle on a regular basis, and hopefully the effects are more long lasting than those of an ad that is forgotten as soon as it is published. For the ongoing observations of flora and fauna, the data collected and the scientific studies as well as informational campaigns, pedagogical tools, and the commitment of a very professional staff are among the pacifist weapons that contribute discretely and resolutely to changing the attitude that we should all display toward the island of Saint Martin.

Falvien Noaillies

If I am grateful that I was asked to write this editorial, it is also because it offers me the opportunity to show my support, other than by simply following up on the judicial issues confronted by the Réserve Naturelle. And finally, what is better than offering this support publicly.

I salute the Réserve Naturelle of Saint Martin as it continues its activities and strives to reach its primordial goal: to love teaching us about the natural heritage of Saint Martin. So here’s to your buoys, your cameras, your measurement instruments, your data, and your analytical software!

Better Knowledge About Protected Areas And Protected Species

End-of-year advisory committee meeting

The Réserve Naturelle’s advisory committee met on December 17, 2014 at the prefecture in order to, as its name indicates, offer advice on the proper governance and projects of the Réserve. Matthieu Doligez, secretary general of the prefecture, commended the work accomplished and underlined the financial support of the French government, reaffirming that the Réserve can count of their assistance for creation of the Biodiversity Institute. This project benefits from a financial agreement as part of the development contract between the Collectivity and the French government, and is the subject of an ongoing feasibility study led by Polyprogramme. Doligez stated that the government has also expressed interest in supporting other projects envisioned by the Réserve, such as the development of aquiculture. The Reserve’s 2014 year-end report was presented to those at the meeting, who were invited to make comments. In response to Patricia Chance- Duzant, representative of «quartier n°2», who lamented the fact that the areas around the edges of the salt ponts were often polluted, Nicolas Maslach pointed out that the mission of the Réserve covered only those areas officially protected and that the shores of ponds were under the jurisdiction of the Collectivity. This point opened a discussion on the possibility of extending the missions of the Réserve beyond just those specific sites, with the support and in coordination with the services of the Collectivity. Assistant prosecutor Flavien Noailles approved of this idea, and noted that he is pleased that the rangers of the Réserve use education first and foremost, and fine people only when absolutely necessary.

Le scinque apprécie les murets de Tintamare
Skinks enjoy the low walls of Tintamare

There has been much talk lately about the skink, a lizard recently rediscovered on the small island of Tintamare, where they were thought to be extinct. On November 10-15, a team comprising six members of AEVA, an association in Guadeloupe, was financed by the French government to launch a study of the characteristics of this little lizard, which can also be found in La Désirade and the Petite Terre Islands of Guadeloupe. The goal of this group’s first mission is to decide if the skinks in each of these three territories are the same species, whose geographic isolation allowed for their rapid evolution. Thus these small reptiles and their various aspects are being analyzed: their size, eventual signs of disease, their habitat, their predators - they are possible prey for the rats on Tintamare - and their potential difficulty to find the insects on which they feed. All of these parameters will allow for a better understanding of this population, to explain its presence, and identify factors that could be a menace to its existence. The second goal is to capture two complete lizards (including their tails) to serve as models to describe the species at the Museum of Natural History. More recently, from December 14-21, Blair Hodges, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the leading American specialist of this species, visited the skinks of Tintamare. He was joined by a second professor as part of the study launched by AVEA. The two scientists left with a piece of a tail from a skink, in order to compare its DNA to that of two skinks that were captured on Tintamare and have been part of their museum for over 30 years. Will they determine if this is a new species? That is the question.

Taggage d’un requin citron . Tagging of a lemon shark
Taggage d’un requin citron . Tagging of a lemon shark

Project Negara, named after Negaprion, the scientific name for lemon sharks, was launched in July 2014 and continued on November 24-30, 2014. The study is still run by Océane Beaufort, a specialist of this large fish of the carcharhinidae family currently seen not far from our shores and in more frequent contact with swimmers. Financed by the government and TEMEUM, and coordinated by the Kap Natirel association in Guadeloupe, this part of the study consisted of testing a new technique for the capture of a new specimen, in the juvenile stage of its life. Tried out along the shores of Tintamare, at the mouth of the Etang aux Poissons and at Bluff Point, this capture by net—which has less possible risk of injuring the shark—allowed for the capture of one individual, making it the 13th such lemon shark weighed, measured, and tagged in Réserve Naturelle. The recent passage of hurricane Gonzalo, rough marine weather conditions, and the arrival of massive banks of sargassum did not make the crew’s job any easier. This study is designed to answer big questions about sharks in Saint Martin, about which very little is known. What is the interaction between these animals and swimmers? Is it necessary to adapt their management ? One thing is certain: it is dangerous to cause situations that lead to accidents, such as the misadventure last October of an employee at a Dutch diving club who had part of her calf bitten off by a shark during a «shark feeding» session.

Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas

Les Terres Basses inondées après Gonzalo © Association des propriétaires des Terres Basses
Terres Basses flooded after Gonzalo © Homeowners Association of Terres Basses

A foreseeable consequence of badly controlled construction is the overflowing of the ponds in Terre Basses following the strong rains on November 8, which caused severe flooding. It took several days for the situation to return to normal, as the water eventually flowed toward the sea. As owner of these ponds, the Conservatoire du Littoral should be consulted if the Homeowners Association of Terres Basses decides to do work to handle the evacuation of rainwater.

Urban planning: the Conservatoire remains vigilant

In January 2015, the Conservatoire du Littoral will confirm its land-use strategy for the year. As there is a new urban planning map (PLU) for Saint Martin, the Conservatoire is particularly vigilant about the future of certain sites: Bell Point between Grand-Case and Anse Marcel, Red Rock along the Sentier des Froussards, and the hillsides around Pic Paradis.

Cette maison en ruines sera détruite en 2015
The ruins of this house will be demolished in 2015

After the acquisition of three pieces of land in 2013 at Babit Point, the Conservatoire completed amiable negotiations with the Association Syndicale Libre of Oyster Pond (ASLOP) in October 2014 to acquire the three remaining pieces of land that now make the Conservatoire the sole owner of the site. This acquisition serves as a guarantee for the residents of Oyster Pond that this beautiful landscape will remain natural and undeveloped. As part of the rejuvenation of the site, the ruins of a house that are an eyesore will be subject to a removal of asbestos in early 2015, before the structure is demolished. In coordination with the local residents, the next step will be the creation of a botanic trail open to the public, with an observation point, as well as an overall replanting of the vegetation at Babit Point.

Halophilia gaining territory

The Halophilia stipulacea marine plant are gaining ground: this invasive species has an important presence in the Simpson Bay lagoon, where it was introduced into the environment by boat anchors. It is currently increasing around Long Bay, where a long, thick band was observed by Julien Chalifour, not only on sandy land where there is no other vegetation, but also mixed in with the existing sea grass, which is more alarming. This evolution should be monitored, and the Réserve encourages everyone to please report any observations of this algae (location, depth, mono-specific or not) and to provide photographic documentation.

Reconstruction de BioHab après le passage de Gonzalo
Reconstruction of BioHab after hurricane Gonzalo

Gonzalo not only caused a lot of damage on the water, but also under the water as well. At a depth of 20 meters, the hurricane managed to displace the modules of cinder block that create the Bio- Hab artificial reef. A team from the Réserve did a dive once the water was clear enough to see how many of the modules had been disturbed or actually moved. This gave them an idea of the violent nature of the water during the storm and how it had such an impact at that depth. The damage was limited in that none of the blocks were actually broken and the Réserve crew is already reconstructing that which they so carefully put in place last year. Curiously, some new species have appeared about the BioHab, such as a species from the Haemulon family and a lionfish, that had previously not been seen at this site. On the other hand, some other species are no longer there, such as adult lobsters, which may have moved to other sites with the strong currents. This unexpected damage will slow down the Bio- Hab2 project, planned at a depth of 15 meters. One note of good news: the coral reefs do not seem to be impacted by Gonzalo..

The details about the colonization around the BioHab in Saint Martin is no longer a secret for the 200 specialists of marine resource management who came from the Gulf of Mexico and the entire Caribbean basin to attend the 67th annual meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, held this year in Barbados. Julien Chalifour, head of the scientific division of the Réserve, presented the BioHab project, which was of great interest to the attendees. His trip was made possible thanks to funds from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Regional Activity Center For Protected Spaces and Species in the Caribbean (CAR-SPAW).Julien Chalifour présentant le projet BioHab . Julien Chalifour presenting the BioHab project
Traces laissées dans le sable par une tortue venue pondre .
Traces left in the sand by a sea turtle that has laid its eggs

Turtle brigade of the Réserve presents its annual report. More than 653 patrols were reported on at least 10 beaches on the island, with 249 traces of sea turtles returning to the place they were born to lay their eggs. Yet this number is a little deceiving. 2014 was considered as “a year of the turtle” as the reproductive cycle for sea turtles hits a peak every two years. In 2012, 185 traces of egg laying were noted by 529 patrols, or almost as many traces yet many fewer patrols. In comparison, there were 277 traces for 1,018 in 2013. Once again, this trend does not necessarily translate to the number of adult turtles present in the sea as they do not lay eggs every year, but rather every two or three years. A special thanks to the increasing number of eco-volunteers who respond to the requests of the Réserve.

Cette tortue a été victime d’un braconnier
This turtle was the victim of a poacher

Between March and November 2014, the Réserve Naturelle reported five sea turtles that had washed ashore on the island’s beaches. Two of these turtles had died due to collisions, one near Anse Marcel and the other near Orient Bay; two were killed by poachers in Grand-Case, and the fifth one, which measured 27 inches in length, was found on the beach in Orient Bay, apparently the victim of a natural death.

Débordement récurrent au niveau de ce regard (photo d’archives)
Recurring overflow of gray water (archival photo)

When conciliation doesn’t work…

In accord with the Conservatoire du Littoral and after an unfruitful attempt tentative at conciliation, the Réserve Naturelle decided to enforce a stricter strategy to ensure that commercial operations at Galion respect the regulations. As a result of controls by the agents of the Réserve last November, three out of four companies - The Butterfly Farm, the GM Education dog training center, and the PawSitive refuge - were not respecting the law and cited for two different infractions: first for occupying land that belongs to the Conservatoire du Littoral without authorization; and secondly for non-authorized activities within the Réserve Naturelle. Only the Bay Side Equestrian Center, which follows the law to the letter and was included in the creation of the Réserve, can provide this type of activity.

A third offense for recurring pollution

On Monday, November 24, the Réserve Naturelle filed a third report against the hotel, La Samanna, for runoff of gray water into the Grand Étang at Terres Basses, and this came after two requests that the hotel do the necessary work to avoid the pollution. In 2012, a meeting was held with the Réserve, the management of the hotel, and the “Establishment For Water And Sanitation” (EEASM), owner of the pipes and the pumping station that La Samanna claims were not functioning properly. Yet is seems that some of the gray water coming from the laundry of the hotel has not been properly filtered and the residue from textiles causes clogging, while at the same time, the grease traps are too small, and all of the gray water from the hotel is released into the system without any sort of treatment. The report was sent to the assistant prosecutor and the case will be judged in Saint Martin.

Man fined for illegal kite-surfing

The official regulation prohibiting kite-surfing in Galion bay is sadly not always respected—and often misunderstood - but the agents of the Réserve Naturelle are willing to discuss this with those who like this sport, and until November 21 had not been obliged to fine for infractions. But on that day, a kite surfer who had been warned several times was eventually fined for the practice of an activity that is not allowed within the Réserve.

The Butterfly Farm fined by the ONCFS

The ONCFS (French National Office For Hunting and Wildlife) does not have a branch in Saint Martin, but regularly sends agents from Guadeloupe on assignment. Present on the island from November 17-21, two ONCFS agents controlled The Butterfly Farm and noted that the operator was working without authorization from the Réserve or the Prefecture, in spite of numerous reminders that he had neither the insurance or authorization to possess wildlife. A violation was issued and sent to the pubic prosecutor’s office.

Restoration Of Degraded Areas And Populations

Ces ruines sont appelées à disparaître
These ruins are slated for demolition

Since last August, the Conservatoire du Littoral has been the owner of a piece of land at Galion Bay, where a project is advancing to demolish a hotel that is ruins. Before demolition, an RFP will be issued in the first quarter of 2015 for the removal of asbestos in the various structures. The development of this site, which has an extensive ecosystem but it also very popular with the public, includes parking for a large number of vehicles without impacting the environment. Recreation and fun will not be forgotten, with the installation of picnic areas as well as a fitness trail on the point at the north end of the bay and sports facilities for such activities as beach tennis. The restaurant will be replaced with a smaller and lighter structure.Un parcours de santé est en projet sur cette pointe A fitness trail is planned on this point of land

Three coconut palms on Pinel and sadly the magnificent
filao that shaded the picnic tables on the
beach at Tintamare did not resist the high winds
that assaulted the islands during hurricane Gonzalo.
The trees were cut up and any branches that
posed a danger to the public on the beaches within
the Réserve were removed.

Beau travail de la pelle mécanique
A hard work by the mechanical shovel

Finally! Almost 20 years after it sank not far from the Coralita site, a sailboat damaged by hurricane Luis in September 1995 has been dismantled and transported to the eco-site at Grandes Cayes. It was necessary to wait for the death of the owner, who had been ordered by the court to remove his boat but didn’t have the means to do so, allowing the Conservatoire du Littoral to legally proceed in removing the remains of the vessel. With a hand from Verde SXM, the management company for the eco-site, a 22-ton mechanical shovel was used to cut the boat in two before it could be removed. A much-needed cleanup of the beach, which had been polluted, followed this maneuver.

La plage nettoyée après l’enlèvement de l’épave Beach clean up after the removal of the shipwreckL’épave échouée depuis 1995 A ship that sank in 1995

Environmental Communication And Education

Le sentier était interdit avant les réparations
The trail was closed before repairs were completed

The discovery trail at the Etang de la Barrière in Cul-de- Sac suffered from the lashing winds of hurricane Gonzalo and several vertical panels of wood were found on the ground. Nothing too serious so the Conservatoire asked for an estimate and it will take one week of work before the trail is once again ready to welcome those who are curious enough to discover the numerous birds that visit the pond. The bird observation points at Lucas Bay and by the Etang du Cimetière in Grand Case were able to resist the force of Gonzalo.

The Réserve at the Fête de la Science

The Réserve Naturelle actively participated at the Fête de la Science, held at the Northern Island High School on Thursday, November 27, examining the theme of “knowledge of spaces and species, protected or not.” Nicolas Maslach and Romain Renoux answered all of the students’ questions and taught them about the importance of protecting our biodiversity.

Soon the Coralita whale observatory will be equipped with new pedagogical signage, as already installed by the Réserve’s staff at Pinel, Coralita, along the Sentier des Froussards, and along Etang de la Barrière and the Etang du Cimetière in Grand Case. Manufactured of a material more resistant to ultra-violet rays, these panels will last longer, yet they are more expensive. However this obstacle did not stop the Conservatoire, which feels that the investment will be amortized over time.

Better Means For Better Missions

Olivier Raynaud
Olivier Raynaud

Please welcome Olivier Raynaud to Saint Martin! The new head of land use and site development for the Saint Martin and St Barthélemy branch of the Conservatoire du Littoral has enthusiastically taken over the role of Béatrice Galdi. With a masters degree in public management of the environment and a specialist in the administration of new projects and protection initiatives, the CV of this young yet brilliant scientist is already seasoned having served in Martinique, Madagascar, Comoros, and handled a study biodiversity and the fight against the invasion of Crazy Yellow Ants on Johnston Atoll, in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. The entire staff of the Réserve Naturelle is pleased to welcome him aboard and support his efforts.

Four territorial police take nature courses

Like two of their colleagues who took a week of nature training in June 2014, four new territorial police recently commissioned will spend time in other services such as the gendarmerie, the PAF, and the Réserve Naturelle. They will work with the Réserve to get acquainted in the field with all of work done by nature police: patrols with the guards, application of the environmental code, public awareness, knowledge of protected species…

Pinel
Pinel

At Pinel, where motor boats - often with outboard motors - had a tendency to anchor as close to the shore as possible, swimmers can now enjoy the water in total safety, without worrying about propellers. With the help of buoys, the Réserve’s rangers have defined a safe swimming area 40 meters wide all along the beach. An access channel to the pontoon with the ferry dock is not open for swimming.

Reinforcement On A Regional

De gauche à droite : George Pau-Langevin, ministre de l’outre-mer ; Nicolas Maslach, directeur de la Réserve naturelle ; Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, conseillère territoriale, présidente de l’Office du tourisme; Ramona Connor, 2ème vice-présidente de la collectivité de Saint-Martin ; Ségolène Royal, ministre de l’environnement et Romain Renoux, en charge du pôle coopération régionale à la Réserve naturelle
De gauche à droite : George Pau-Langevin, ministre de l’outre-mer ; Nicolas Maslach, directeur de la Réserve naturelle ; Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, conseillère territoriale, présidente de l’Office du tourisme; Ramona Connor, 2ème vice-présidente de la coll

The European Union, which comprises 9 Outermost Regions and 25 Overseas Countries and Territories worldwide, has placed the protection of its exceptional biodiversity at the top of its list of priorities, as seen in the creation of the BEST project, coordinated in the Caribbean by the SPAW RAC and the Réserve Naturelle of Saint Martin. The goal is to establish an inventory of the biodiversity and its challenges in terms of conservation in each of these European territories and to guarantee the continuation of European funding, which often is lacking at the moment. Along the same lines, the second International Conference On Biodiversity and Climate Change in Overseas Europe, which was held in Guadeloupe on October 22-25, 2014, attracted 200 attendees who represent the who’s who of leaders, managers, and scientists concerned by these challenges, including Ségolène Royal and George Pau-Langevin, respectively minister of the environment, and overseas minister. Co-organized by France, the Bristish Virgin Islands, the association of overseas countries and territories, the Region of Guadeloupe— which led the conference for the Outermost Regions—the Secretary for the Convention on Biological Diversity, the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the European Commission, this meeting allowed all of these territories—British, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, and French—to work together in a series of five workshops that allowed them to discuss such subjects as the decline in the biodiversity, research, the economic impact of natural environments, the mobilization of financial resources, and of course the effects of climate change. This work resulted in a roadmap that defines the actions that are required over the next few years to respond efficiently to the challenges of biodiversity and to climate change.

Romain Renoux, the head of regional cooperation for the Réserve and for the coordination of the BEST project in the Caribbean, took the opportunity to meet his counterparts from around the region and to share the most possible information with them

Amandine Vaslet, an employee of SPAW RAC, as part of the agreement linking the Réserve to this center, is collaborating with Romain Renoux on the European BEST project. In this role, she participated in the 67th annual meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, held in Barbados, where she presented Project BEST, as well as the Megara campaign, to 200 specialists in the management of marine resources from the Gulf of Mexico and the entire Caribbean basin. The importance of excellent communication between the territories is primordial for the advancement of this project, which, it is important to note, concerns all of Overseas Europe.
Steno brendanensis © Laurent Bouveret - OMMAG
Steno brendanensis © Laurent Bouveret - OMMAG

France’s Protected Areas Agency, managers of the Agoa marine mammal sanctuary, took advantage of the visit to Guadeloupe by French minister of the environment Ségolène Royal, and overseas minister George Pau-Langevin, to officially install the management council for Agoa at the offices of the National Park of Guadeloupe on October 22. Composed of 53 members who represent the diversity of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, this council will define and ensure the management of the sanctuary, establish its activities program, and provide evaluation based on a management chart as approved. Saint Martin is represented by prefect Philippe Chopin, the president of the Collectivité, Aline Hanson, who was represented here by vice president Ramona Connor, Nicolas Maslach, director of the Réserve Naturelle of Saint-Martin, Gary Page (Saint Martin fisherman’s association), Bulent Gulay (federation of nautical industries in Saint Martin), Stéphane Mazurier (operators of marine mammal observation and tourism for the Northern Islands), and Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool (president of the tourist office). Created on October 23, 2012, the Agoa sanctuary covers over 55,000 square miles, or the totality of the economic zone exclusive to the French West Indies. Its goal is to guarantee a high level of conservation for marine mammals by protecting them, as well as their habitat, and the impacts - direct or indirect, confirmed or potential - of human activities.

Les participants à l’atelier sur l’évaluation économique des écosystèmes
The participants in a workshop in the economic evaluation of eco-systems

Getting an estimate for the actual cost of building a cruise ship dock on a Caribbean island is one of the first steps, for example, in its construction. But what is the cost to the environment? What consequences, generally considered irreversible, would this new dock have for the eco-systems? On the coral? The beaches? This is one of the points that Romain Renoux and 19 other managers from a total of 15 Caribbean territories discussed in a workshop on the economic evaluation of eco-systems. Organized by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and the Dutch Ministry of the Economy, September 16- 18 in Bonaire, this workshop was designed to demonstrate the necessity to make all leaders - including elected officials - aware with total transparency that the cost to the environment from construction and concrete is not neutral. And at the end of the day, the bill may be higher than expected!

Paysage australien
The Australian landscape

On November 12-19, 2014, In Sydney, Australia, the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) held the World Parks Congress. Held once every ten years it attracts the leading players involved in the protection of nature, with 6000 attendees from 70 countries, including Saint Martin, represented by Nicolas Maslach, in his role as a member of the board of the Forum of Protected Marine Areas, which financed his trip. The director of the Réserve spoke publicly on several occasions to present various activities of the Réserve, especially in the field of protected area management, their governing, actions that promote conservation of biodiversity, and the fight against climate change. For Maslach, the congress provided an occasion to meet Australian managers of protected areas and better understand their efforts and their tools for the development of their immense coastline.

The IUCN’s green list for protected areas was inaugurated in Sydney. This list, celebrating the success of these protected areas, will serve as a standard by which to measure green initiatives thanks to efficient and equitable management. The list recognizes innovation, excellence, and the spirit of initiation. In the absence of the Réserve Naturelle Marine of Banyuls, which figures on the list, Nicolas Maslach received the «Green List» prize from the Australian environmental minister. The Réserve Naturelle of Saint Martin will present its candidature for this list in 2016.

It was on the Ile d’Oléron, on October 15-17, 2014, that Romain Renoux and Franck Roncuzzi met with 50 other managers of protected marine areas—national parks, nature reserves, marine parks, Natura 2000 zones, Conservatoire du Littoral sites—during the 13th annual Forum for Protected Marine Areas, an informal network that these managers belong to. For them, it provides an opportunity to share mutual experiences as well as successful techniques, and discuss their difficulties. One issue is funding, the eternal holy grail, but also such questions as the possible eco-certification for anchors and moorings in order to make them more compatible with the management of protected zones, as well as the prospective on climate change. Renoux had the honor of being elected president of this Forum for the next two years, which means that with his office, he will work on the themes for the next national colloquium for protected marine areas in 2015, and will centralize and bring the concerns of the managers to the attention of the minister of the environment and the agency for protected marine areas.

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