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-23

Téléchargez le PDF:
Download PDF - Télécharger le PDF

Newsletter-23

Aline Hanson, Présidente de la Collectivité de Saint-Martin
Aline Hanson, Présidente de la Collectivité de Saint-Martin

Aline Hanson
Présidente de la Collectivité de Saint-Martin

The importance that I attach to our natural environment is every bit as imperative as the challenges we face in the 21st century. I am pleased that I was able to address this subject during the Caribbean Climate Conference in Fort-de-France on May 9, 2015, with the president of France and the minister of the environment in the audience. On a national level, France is committed to the fight against climate change and by working together we can improve the current situation. Just as by working together locally, we can make sure our island is more beautiful, cleaner, and more welcoming. The Collectivité’s policy for environmental protection can only be effective if it is accompanied by small efforts made by every member of the population in terms of environmental protection. It is in this spirit that I would like to encourage the Réserve Naturelle in its daily work that favors the environment. Good governance of our natural resources is a precious tool in terms of our tourists, who appreciate that we provide them with exceptional protected sites where they can discover the natural heritage of our island. I would also like to congratulate the Réserve for leading the project for an institute dedicated to the conservation of our island’s biodiversity. This useful scientific tool —which is also educational and recreational— highlights the reasonable potential of exploitation of our natural resources and allows us to think about the challenges for the future of Saint Martin. In conclusion, just a simple message for everyone: Keep Saint Martin clean & green!

Better Knowledge About Protected Areas And Protected Species

L’équipe de Megara The Megara Team
L’équipe de Megara The Megara Team

After having initiated the first Megara mission to study humpback whales in the waters around Saint Martin and neighboring islands in March 2014, the Réserve Naturelle launched Megara 2015 on March 23, 2015, for 12 days dedicated to the observation and research of humpback whales. This study of marine mammals instituted by the Réserve, and more specifically the Megara missions in the Northern Islands, has proved that humpback whales are not simply migrating past our islands. The songs of the males, the observation of groups of males following females, and the presence of females with their babies just a few days old, indicate that this marine zone could also be an area for reproduction as well as a nursery for these large mammals. The best surprise during this expedition was the diversity and large number of songs by male whales that were recorded by the Megara crew, as the best singers try to win the hearts of those females with which they want to mate. «Every year, the songs are new, and this season they are relatively different from those that we recorded in 2014,» remarks Julien Chalifour, director of the scientific division of the Réserve. «If they come from the same place, the whales will adopt the same style of songs, and the songs apparently evolve as different groups come together,” he continues, noting that among the humpback whales, the male that is number one on the hit parade has the best chances at reproduction. The 15 participants in Megara 2015, in addition to the Réserve staff, included Michel Vély, a marine mammal specialist who is the president of the association, Megaptera, which develops various programs about the study, awareness, and conservation of marine mammals. Also included were two photographers, as well as Olivier Halin, a videographer and drone pilot, who also shot some great aerial images of large dolphins close to the shores of Tintamare. Next comes the sorting out the images, and especially examining those that show the tail fins of humpback whales, whose characteristics signify the individual identity of each mammal. The photos will be entered in the catalogue created last year by the Réserve and shared with other existing catalogues from the Caribbean, as well as the United States, Canada, Iceland, and Norway. The Réserve has promised that the public will soon be able to see the videos, as well as other beautiful images taken during the 2014 and 2015 Megara campaigns. At the same time, three samples of skin were taken to determine the sex and origin of each whale, as well as their nutritional regime, and any eventual chemical pollutants that might have gotten into their bodies. These biopsies will be analyzed by Dr. Per J. Palsboll at The University of Groningen in The Netherlands, and compared to a database of thousands of samples taken from animals in the northern Atlantic. This will determine the zones in the Atlantic frequented by these large marine mammals.

As described in its management plan, the Réserve Naturelle, which works in close collaboration with the Agency for Protected Marine Zones and the AGOA sanctuary, has taken on the mission of deepening its knowledge of marine mammals that frequent the waters of the Northern Islands. The goal of this mission is to establish, under the aegis of the AGOA sanctuary, management objectives best adapted to the conservation of these emblematic species. If you would like to participate, the Réserve invites you to send your photos of tail fins or dorsal fins via email to baleine@rnsm.org
Renaud Dupuy de la Grandrive
Renaud Dupuy de la Grandrive

Saint Martin and its Réserve Naturelle will be featured in the next book by Renaud Dupuy de la Grandrive, a photographer who specializes in marine and underwater images, and is also the director of the Protected Marine Zone of Cap d’Agde, an eco-tourism zone of 16,000 acres frequented by 250,000 tourists each year, or 10 times the number of local residents. He assisted the Réserve Naturelle during its second Megara mission, during which he took some beautiful photographs. Renaud is the author of two illustrated books, one on Cap d’Agde and the other on the marine milieu in the Mediterranean. His next book has a wider scope, as he will present all of the «hotspots» for marine biodiversity on the entire planet… including our own little rock.

La campagne Pacotilles a travaillé depuis ce bateau | Pacotilles worked from this boat
La campagne Pacotilles a travaillé depuis ce bateau | Pacotilles worked from this boat

From April 22 through June 1, 2015, Pacotilles set out to collect samples of coral, sponges, algae, and small shellfish in Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Saint Martin. The goal of this inventory is to improve our knowledge of biodiversity and the connectivity of benthos -the community of organisms that live on, in, or near the seabed- in the Lesser Antilles. This project was financed by the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), the CNRS, and the Agency for Protected Marine Zones. Normally prohibited by law, the collection of species for this inventory was authorized by the Réserve Naturelle. They responded favorably to a request made by the directors of Pacotilles, who in return will provide a report about the project and its results.

AGOA: a partnership renewed

Good news for marine mammals. After evaluating the work done over the past two years by the Réserve Naturelle, the Agency for Protected Marine Zones (AAMP), agrees to renew the partnership agreement it signed on behalf of the AGOA sanctuary and the Réserve. Pierre Leca, deputy director of AAMP, who runs their natural marine parks department, made the decision. While visiting our region in April 2015, his goal was to meet with all of the administrative agencies and members of the board of AGOA in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin. Accompanied by François Colas, chef of the Antilles branch of AAMP, and Amandine Aynaudi, representative of AGOA, he met with various people on our island including vice president Ramona Connor at the Collectivité, prefect Philippe Chopin, and deputy Daniel Gibbs. The meeting at the Réserve Naturelle focused on the most recent management board meeting for AGOA, which was held May 21, 2015 in Martinique.

Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas

L’étang aux Poissons |  Fish Pond
L’étang aux Poissons | Fish Pond

The treatment of gray water in Saint Martin is not properly handled in certain sectors, and the Établissement des Eaux et de l’Assainissement (EEASM), along with the Collectivité, has put the construction of new water treatment plants at the top of its list of priorities. Two such stations, one in French Quarter and the other at La Savane, are under construction. The Réserve remains vigilant, as these two stations are along the edge of salt ponds: the first at the Etang aux Poissons; the second at the Etang de La Savane, and both sites are protected by the Conservatoire du Littoral. An impact study was done, levels of acceptable discharge were set, and the compensatory measures accepted by the EEASM will be implemented : monitoring of the water quality in the ponds; integration of the water treatment stations into the landscape; replanting of vegetation around the sites; installation of facilities for the public, for example, a bird observatory.

On the northern side of the island, where gray water currently runs into the Étang aux Poissons without being treated at all, the water treatment plant project for French Quarter —where gray water from Mont Vernon, Orient Bay and French Quarter will be treated— should be completed before the end of 2020, as it has access to European Funds to help with financing. The work will begin in 2015 in order to respect the timetable, and at completion will comprise underground installation of miles of pipes, including those in protected zones. Some legal procedures are necessary in terms of land use, and the Réserve Naturelle, like the Conservatoire du Littoral, are working to facilitate the process: a temporary agreement to rightfully use the land and the reduction of pollution that flows into the ponds steps in the right direction toward the protection of these fragile areas.

At La Savane, as part of the construction of a new school complex and the treatment of its gray water, several pieces of land around the pond have been the site of illegal construction for many years, and the only solution to install the pipes for the future water treatment plant without destroying the homes would be to pass them by way of the pond. But how? The ingenious solution found by the EEASM and the Réserve will consist of installing a wooden walkway under which the pipes will be attached. This pretty walkway will have a double advantage, as it will also allow students from Grand Case to get to class without walking on the road.

Babit Point : avant | Babit Point : before
Babit Point : avant | Babit Point : before

The Conservatoire du Littoral made a promise, and has kept it: the house that stood in ruins and was an eyesore on the magnificent site of Babit Point has been destroyed. The next step will consist of closing off the property with a wooden fence in order to protect it, and define the boundaries. The Conservatoire will participate in the next general meeting of the Oyster Pond trade association in order to consult and discuss with the residents of the neighborhood and get their opinion on future improvements intended for the site.

La baie de l’Embouchure “Galion Beach”
La baie de l’Embouchure “Galion Beach”

Good news: the illegal occupation of government land in Saint Martin is negotiable, especially in comparison to the situation in Guadeloupe and in Martinique, where it must be noted, land belonging to the government is more abundant and widespread. That is the conclusion presented in the final report of a senatorial project intended to analyze the illegal occupation of government land in the French Caribbean territories. On a visit to our island on May 2, 2015, Guillaume Arnell, senator from Saint Martin, and Michel Magras, senator from Saint Barth, were part of the project delegation, along with two other senators and a Senate administrator. They appreciated the already existing collaboration between the Collectivité, the Conservatoire, and the Réserve, especially in terms of a shared vision for environmental protection. This collaboration will be tested shortly at the Baie de l’Embouchure, where the Conservatoire plans to invite the Collectivité to participate in the management of Galion Beach, as the planned improvements will primarily concern the Collectivité and its population.

Marine Nouhaud
Marine Nouhaud

An intern at the Réserve from January 5 to June 15, 2015, Marine Nouhaud is a 22 year-old master’s degree student in “Ecology and Dynamics Of Coastlines and Estuaries” at the University of La Rochelle. Her task was to update the atlas illustrating the sites in Saint Martin where sea turtles lay their eggs. Created six years ago by Pauline Malterre, who was at the time the scientific director at the Réserve, and Éric Delcroix, director of sea turtle coordination in Guadeloupe, this atlas synthesizes the current condition of all the beaches frequented by these turtles during their egg-laying period, on the entire French side of the island. On the beaches included in this atlas, Nouhaud has noted all of the changes that have taken place since 2009, primarily concerning the state of the vegetation development on the beaches. She will make recommendations necessary to improve conditions for the turtles. For example, planting sea grapes along the edge of the beaches, as the Réserve has already done on Pinel and at Grandes Cayes. At the same time, she is participating in the monitoring of sea turtles with a team of 60 eco-volunteers who are charged with surveying the beaches twice per week in order to record traces of turtles that have dug their nests in the sand.

Tintamare mouillages | Moorings
Tintamare mouillages | Moorings

The 17 mooring buoys placed at the disposition of boaters in front of the Bay Blanche Beach in Tintamare were all revised and replaced if necessary. These buoys are connected to their mooring blocks by a cord made of steel and nylon that should resist damage by propeller blades as well as attempted theft. At the same time, all of the moorings and buoys installed at various dive sites were also verified, repaired, and eventually replaced if need be.

In late April, the cross of Saint-André and the light atop the large yellow buoy marking the boundary of the Réserve Naturelle near Rocher Créole have disappeared, most likely during a collision with a boat. The Réserve invites anyone with information about these items to contact Franck Roncuzzi at 06 90 57 95 55, without risk of punishment. To repair the buoy costs 1,200 euros and the Réserve would be relieved to recover the cross and the light, even if they are damaged.

Every year, Saint Martin hosts Fish Day, which is held the first Sunday in May at the embarcadero on Pinel island. The Réserve Naturelle facilitates the flow of numerous visitors by allowing vehicles to use the shortcut between the Etang de la Barrière and the Grandes Cayes road. This authorization is coordinated with the Collectivité, so that the impact on this natural milieu is as imperceptible as possible. In preparation, the Réserve has repaired the path in the mangrove that was damaged by hurricane Gonzalo and cleaned up the pond. As for the Collectivité, it organized the removal of a part of sargassum seaweed that had been piling up for several months.

Police Activity

Pêche interdite à Caye Verte | No fishing at Green Cay
Pêche interdite à Caye Verte | No fishing at Green Cay

Caught by the Réserve Naturelle in the act of fishing in front of Green Cay in March 2015, a poacher that had been identified several times by witnesses spontaneously volunteered to do non-paid work on behalf of the Réserve. This proposition was noted in the report filed by Franck Roncuzzi, director of the police division for nature and logistics. At the end of his questioning at the gendarmerie, and in keeping with the judgment, this individual will undertake 20 hours of cleaning the beaches within the Réserve Naturelle.

Pêche interdite à Pinel | No fishing at Pinel
Pêche interdite à Pinel | No fishing at Pinel

In April 2015, alerted by a witness that two men equipped with harpoon guns were seen off the coast of Pinel, Franck Roncuzzi immediately set out by boat to the spot. There, he discovered three lobsters with holes from arrows but not the gun… and the two poachers denied any wrongdoing. Did the lobsters jump by themselves into the inflatable boat and impale themselves on a harpoon? Aggravating circumstances : one of the two had already been condemned to 20 hours of unpaid work for the Réserve, for having dumped trash on the beach of Grandes Cayes. The fishing gear belonging to these two individuals was seized, and they showed remorse during their questioning at the gendarmerie. At the end of the day they were given a reminder by the judge to respect the interdiction of fishing in Réserve, at the risk of being considered as repeat offenders.

Restoration Of Degraded Areas And Populations

Acropora cervicornis
Acropora cervicornis

Do you know that you can propagate coral like you can propagate a plant? That’s how to create a coral nursery, with the goal of implanting young colonies on the coral reefs that are in bad health. Alizée Masson and Nicolas Oury, two interns at the Réserve Naturelle, were charged with creating the first coral nursery for Saint Martin. The coral in question are Acropora sp, or to be exact, Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and Elkorn coral (Acropora palmata), both in pretty bad shape but which grow more rapidly than other types of coral - up to almost 4 inches per year. The sites for implanting the coral has been determined, at depths between 15 and 30 feet, in remote spots that are not very visited. This project required numerous dives in order to take cuttings from healthy coral, and to attach them to a solid support, such as rope or wire mesh, until they develop. Alizée, a 21 year-old student in a master’s program for «Ecology, Biodiversity, Evolution» at Paris Sud University, was with the Réserve from March 30 to June 4, 2015, while the internship for Nicolas, a 19 year-old student at the Ecole Intechmer in Cherbourg and a future marine technician, runs from April through August 2015.

These two interns worked under the aegis of Julien Chalifour, who originated the project. «The goal was to create new colonies in zones where the Acropora sp. were no longer present, especially as they are the key genus and the first type of coral to construct reefs in the Caribbean. It must be pointed out that without the barrier reef, the waves would little by little eat away the island’s coastlines,” he explains. Where are these new colonies implanted? At Grandes Cayes, for example, where the Acropora sp. has been damaged due to strong swells, the surface temperature of the ocean, hurricanes, trampling and poaching, but also by enrichment in organic material of human nature that boosts the growth of algae, that suffocates and weakens the coral, favoring the development of diseases that kill. Futures cuttings will be taken from various coral in order to favor the resistance of the ensemble in the face of all the different disturbances that might be encountered.

Environmental Communication And Education

Le projet BioHab | The BioHab project
Le projet BioHab | The BioHab project

The Réserve de Saint-Martin was represented at the Sublimo-Driver colloquium, which took place on Embiez Island, April 24-27, 2015. Julien Chalifour presented the first results from the BioHab Project, concerning the implantation of light, artificial habitats, in the presence of international specialists for ecological marine reconstruction. In the current context of overall deterioration of the littoral, the idea of this first colloquium on ecological marine restoration was to help increase scientific information, comprehension, and management of the renewal of marine resources and find sustainable solutions. These meetings should lead to the formation of new partnerships for the improved preservation of our natural heritage, and also embracing new technologies for the rehabilitation of zones that have been damaged by human activity.

Thanks to 17 full-time contract employees of the EME, a professional workplace integration company -responsible for beach cleaning- Galion Beach got a good cleaning the day after the Easter holidays. To thank those who did such a good job within their territory, the Réserve invited them on a boat trip on April 24, allowing them to discover the various activities of the management tram at different key sites, such as Rocher Créole, Tintamare, and Pinel, as seen from the sea. They also watched a presentation by the Réserve in the form of a diorama, which put an accent on the protection of sea turtles, as well as other topics.

Agoa

In order to raise the general public’s awareness about the arrival of the first humpback whales of the season, the Réserve Naturelle organized a week of information sharing about these marine mammals from January 26-29, 2015. A conference at the Sandy Ground Cultural Center on January 28 was the highpoint of the week, led by Laurent Bouveret, president of the Marine Mammal Observatory for the Archipelago of Guadeloupe. This event also comprises the projection of a documentary film about humpback whales and sperm whales, as well as a presentation of the photo identification technique used by the Réserve Naturelle in the waters around the island, which consists of collecting photos of the tail fins of the humpback whales, which serve as unique identification for each animal. The photos can be shared internationally with other image banks to follow the migratory trajectories of these large marine mammals.

Le sanctuaire Agoa pour les mammifères marins dans les Antilles françaises a son site internet. The AGOA Sanctuary for Marine Mammals in the French West Indies has an informational website: www.sanctuaire-agoa.fr.
«Mon école, ma baleine» @ Anguilla
«Mon école, ma baleine» @ Anguilla

On May 4 and 5, 2015, an awareness program for 240 school children aged 10 to 12 in Anguilla taught them about the preservation of marine zones. The project was led by Amandine Vaslet and Dominique Noiré, co-directors of the Saint Martin-based association, «My School, My Whale». With the help of Kafi Gumbs, director of The Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources of Anguilla, they visited nine classes where they gave each of the students one of the 1,527 «Ocean Dreams» comic books and one of the 1,527 posters on cetaceans printed especially for the occasion in English. The idea is that all students in Anguilla will get these two informational items. They were also able to listen to the songs of humpback whales during the projection of a film, before getting information about marine mammals and their characteristics, dolphins, the Megara mission, and the possibility to identify whales by way of their photos thanks to their tail fins, and also were made aware of what menace their marine animals: fishing, noise, pollution, drifting fishnets, aquariums… The children were enthusiastic about their visitors from Saint Martin and asked dozens of questions during the 90-minute session, as seen in the accompanying photo. The Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources of Anguilla, The Anguilla Social Security Board, and the Réserve Naturelle de Saint- Martin financed this project.

College students learn about marine mammals

Les élèves des trois quatrièmes pilotes «option tourisme» des collèges du Mont des Accords, de Soualiga et de Quartier d’Orléans ont tous reçu le diplôme de protecteur des cétacés que leur a remis Amandine Vaslet. Salariée du CAR-SPAW (Centre d’activités régional pour les espèces et les espaces spécialement protégés de la Caraïbe) au titre de la convention qui lie la Réserve à ce centre, la jeune scientifique est également co-responsable avec Dominique Noiré de l’association «Mon école, ma baleine» à Saint-Martin. Elle est intervenue les 26, 27 et 29 janvier dans ces classes pendant deux heures, au cours desquelles les collégiens ont découvert l’ensemble des espèces de mammifères marins que l’on peut observer autour de Saint-Martin. Ils se sont amusés à répondre aux devinettes proposées sur le site de «Mon école, ma baleine» et ont participé avec enthousiasme au quizz qui a clôturé la séance. Ces interventions dans les trois collèges ont été financées par l’Office du tourisme de Saint-Martin. College students learn about marine mammals Students in the three pilot «tourism focus» eighth-grade classes at the colleges Mont des Accords, Soualiga, and French Quarter were all presented with their cetacean protector certificate from Amandine Vaslet. An employee at SPAW-RAC (Regional Activity Centre aimed at implementing the protocol concerning specially protected areas and wildlife in the Caribbean region) as part of an agreement between the Réserve and this entre, the young scientist is also the co-director with Dominique Noiré of the association «My School, My Whale» in Saint Martin. She visited these classes for two hours on January 26, 27 & 29, during which time the students were introduced to all of the species of marine mammals that can be observed in the waters around Saint Martin. They had fun trying to solve the riddles on the «My School, My Whale» website and participated enthusiastically in a quiz that closed the session. The Saint Martin Tourism Office financed these visits to the schools.

Pre-school students discover the mangrove

On Monday, May 11, approximately 60 pre-school students aged 5 and 6 explored the mangrove at the Etang de la Barrière. Accompanied by their teachers and three agents from the Réserve Naturelle, these three kindergarten classes from the pre-school in Grand Case were made aware of the fragility of this natural ecosystem, as well as overall protection of the environment.

Better Means For Better Missions

Le parking de la résidence Mont Vernon | The parking lot at Mont Vernon Residence
Le parking de la résidence Mont Vernon | The parking lot at Mont Vernon Residence

Most of the sites under the aegis of the Conservatoire du Littoral are clear of any commercial activity, but Saint Martin is the exception to the rule, in the sense that certain structures were already there when the land was attributed to the Conservatoire by the government. Pinel is a prime example. The continued use of these sites was agreed to by the Conservatoire, by way of temporary occupation agreements (AOT), for two restaurants and a boutique, which have agreed to respect the demands of the requirements of the Conservatoire in terms of protecting their environment: limitation of the land surface exploited, integration of structures into the landscape, responsible management of water, energy, and trash. The first three AOT’s are nearing their end, but should be renewed this year. The income provided, as always, will be used to help improve the environment at sites managed by the Conservatoire and the Réserve. At the same time, a new AOT was instituted with the owners’ association for the Mont Vernon residence, whose parking lot encroaches on the perimeter of the Conservatoire. The funds from this will allow for the construction of a bird observatory along the Etang de la Barrière, the best pond on the island in terms of bird watching, as one can often observe more than 1000 birds in just a quarter of an hour. This year, an AOT will be granted for the first time to the Club Orient hotel, as a slice of the beach overlaps with the property of the Conservatoire.

Caroline Fleury
Caroline Fleury

85 species of birds, 55 of which are protected, can be observed in Saint Martin, proving the island’s ornithological richness. Since the creation of the scientific division of the Réserve Naturelle in 2008, several species have been the object of a scientific study, which consists of regularly observing, taking an inventory, and counting these birds at specific sites. Since February 2015, this division has been reinforced by the arrival of Caroline Fleury, who has a renewable one-year contract. At the age of 26, this young scientist has a degree in earth sciences and the environment and a master’s in the management of natural risks and technologies. Every month, she ensures the inventory and monitoring of the shorebirds found near the salt ponds, and once each week she also checks on the Brown Noddy and Tropicbirds at Tintamare, Green Cay, and Rocher Créole. This dates, included in the Réserve’s annual report, is shared in order to increase knowledge about these protected species on a national international level. This newest member of the scientific team allows the division to increase its professional capacities and take on new projects engendering better conservation of the natural heritage of Saint Martin. Currently getting additional training, Fleury will soon have her responsibilities extending to cover all of the land-based issues, especially monitoring of the flora on our island, comprising native and invasive species.

Reinforcement On A Regional

Guillaume Escolar
Guillaume Escolar

As part of his training program, Guillaume Escolar, a 22 year-old intern at the Réserve Naturelle from February through August 2015, is especially interested in learning about the systems put in place on neighboring islands to monitor the state of coral and sea plants. He has already met with Tadzio Bervoets, director of the Sint Maarten Marine Park, and plans to meet with the managers of the protected marine zones in Saint Barthélemy, Anguilla, Saba, and Saint Eustatius. A Master’s degree student at the University of La Rochelle, he is studying the management of ecosystems. His internship, as financed by Ifrecor, will not only allow him to increase his knowledge, but also compile and compare the results of various systems already in place, and allow him to propose a standardization of activities throughout the region. His ultimate goal is to improve the conservation of marine zones and communication between islands. At the end of his internship, the Réserve Naturelle will provide a recap of all the existing systems for the directors of the protected marine zones on the five islands, as part of its regional cooperation mission.

BEST @ Saint-Barth
BEST @ Saint-Barth

The European initiative, BEST, is moving forward rapidly. In the field, Romain Renoux, director of the regional cooperation and education division of the Réserve Naturelle, accompanied by Amandine Vaslet, employee of the SPAW-RAC, who coordinates the project with the Réserve, continues to consult with local contacts on different islands. The goal of these meetings it to identify the challenges facing biodiversity in terms of optimizing environmental protection, based on existing scientific studies in the 15 European territories of the Caribbean: French (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barth, Saint Martin), Dutch (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Saint Eustatius, Sint Maarten) and British (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks et Caicos). Once completed, the BEST initiative will allow the European Commission to have the necessary information to select the best projects for financing, so that every euro invested is done so wisely. In Saint Barthélemy, on January 22, 2015, they

In Saint Barthélemy, on January 22, 2015, they met with the Territorial Environment Agency and the association, Saint Barth Essentiel. I

In Saba, on March 24-26, 2015, the board of directors of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance gave them an extraordinary opportunity to meet with representatives of the six Dutch Caribbean islands, and to validate the first proposals with them. BEST @ Saba

On March 17, in Anguilla, they met with representatives of the Department Of The Environment and its partner, the Anguilla National Trust. Together, they validated propositions of identification for the 11 sites to consider in priority, on land and at sea. Sombrero Island is one such site, for its coral reefs, its aviary species, and the presence of endemic reptiles. The sites of Dog Island and Scrub Island were also included as well as the 25 salt ponds on Anguilla, with comprise an important reservoir for biodiversity, and of which 12 are considered of major importance.

In Guadeloupe on April 23, in the National Park offices, they took part in a roundtable whose other participants included representatives from the Ministry of Ecology, the Conservatoire du littoral, the Agency for Protected Marine Zones, the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, the Botanical Conservatory of Guadeloupe, The National Forestry Office, and SPAW-RAC, as well as several local associations for the protection of nature. Romain Renoux and Amandine Vaslet presented a map of the archipelago of Guadeloupe, exposing the issues concerning biodiversity in the islands. The discussions allowed for the precise definition of the boundaries of these zones, considered priority in terms of biodiversity conservation, by taking into account the source of their most recent data. BEST @ Anguilla BEST en Guadeloupe Le renforcement

Mise à l’eau des caméras  Drowning of the cameras
Mise à l’eau des caméras Drowning of the cameras

The Réserve de Saint-Martin, which since 2014 has led the Project Negara study of lemon sharks, hosted a group of Dutch scientists working with the Marine Park of Sint Maarten, on April 21 and 22, 2015, along with Tadzio Bervoets, the Park director. The two academics were with consultants on assignment by the Dutch government, in order to increase knowledge about the marine zones in the Dutch Antilles, with a special focus on the identification, distribution, and management of sharks and rays. After working in Saint Eustatius and Saba, this team spent two months in Sint Maarten, where they sampled 150 points in the sea and observed numerous Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks. Knowing that lemon sharks and tiger sharks had been found in the waters around the French side of the island, the Marine Park contacted the Réserve Naturelle, which lent its expertise to the study by suggesting 18 observation points. The technique used by the Dutch comprised submerging two cameras that recorded in stereo and filmed everything that passed in their field of vision, with bait attached on a telescoping pole to attract these large predators. This means of recording allows for a precise measurement of the size of the sharks, and provides information about the stage of development of the species filmed. Over the course of two days, aboard the boat belonging to the Réserve, three systems of two high-definition cameras were submerged for one hour, pulled out of the water, and then re-submerged at another point, on so on. The Dutch and French each worked on their respective projects : the Dutch concentrating on an inventory and diversity of the various species; and the French continuing their study of the lemon shark, to acquire additional expertise in the manipulation of these individuals. The images recorded will be examined, with the data collected used to enrich global knowledge about sharks. «There are sharks in the waters around Saint Martin that pose absolutely no danger and even signify the good health of our ecosystems. They represent an interesting subject of observation for divers, as the sharks are furtive but not very fierce. But we must not forget that these are wild animals and they should never be fed,” explains Julien Chalifour.

Un iguane des Petites Antilles | A Lesser Antillean green iguana
Un iguane des Petites Antilles | A Lesser Antillean green iguana

354 Lesser Antillean Green Iguanas were identified on March 22-28 in Martinique, on the small island of Chancel, with the participation of Julien Chalifour, director of the scientific division of the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin, which is a member of a regional network. These observations were made as part of a project coordinated by the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS), as part of a national action in favor of this protected species led by Élisa Curot-Lodéon, director of the «Lesser Antillean Green Iguanas project» initiated by the Ministry of Ecology. Chancel has the advantage of not being invaded by the common iguana, so it represents an ideal site to study the Lesser Antillean Green Iguanas, which are abundant here. This deserted islet was divided into six observation zones, and six teams of two observers each patrolled their zone throughout the day. The mission comprises trapping the iguanas in the trees or on the rocks, weighing and measuring them, checking to see if they had any parasites or wounds, and verifying if they had been banded or had a chip under their skin, which are means of identification that have been used for the past 10 years. If the individual iguana did not yet have a chip, one was implanted subcutaneously. As it is extremely hard to tell one iguana from another, those that had already been identified were marked with a number of their flanks. In the end, 354 Lesser Antillean Green Iguanas on Chancel are now equipped with a chip, including 104 new individuals, as there were 250 that already had chips. This mission provided an occasion for Julien Chalifour to meet the agents working in the projected zones of Saint Eustatius, La Désirade, and Saint Barth - where a bacterial infection caused a high level of mortality in the Lesser Antillean Green Iguanas population - as well as members of environmental protection agencies in Guadeloupe and Martinique. In the near future, as part of this national project, Caroline Fleury will take part in an identical mission on the island of La Désirade.

Romain Renoux à bord de l’autogyre | Romain Renoux inside the gyroplane
Romain Renoux à bord de l’autogyre | Romain Renoux inside the gyroplane

Comme tous les ans depuis 2013, l’équipe du sanctuaire Agoa pour les mammifères marins dans les Antilles françaises s’est mobilisée à l’occasion de la Karujet 2015, au cours de laquelle plus de 60 jet-skis étaient lancés à pleine vitesse entre Petit-Bourg, Le Gosier, les Saintes, Saint-François et Marie- Galante, dans les eaux de la Guadeloupe. Cette compétition d’engins à moteur représentant une source de dérangement et un risque de collision pour les cétacés, l’Agence des aires marines protégées a préconisé des mesures préventives afin de minimiser les risques, aux frais des organisateurs de la Karujet. Le départ des courses n’a été donné qu’après le survol en autogyre de la zone environnante et l’observation du parcours depuis un bateau, afin de s’assurer qu’aucun mammifère marin ne soit mis en danger. Compte tenu des risques et des perturbations, l’Agence des aires marines protégées a de nouveau cette année demandé que cette étape du championnat du monde de jet-ski se déroule à l’avenir sur une période où les baleines à bosse ne sont pas présentes.

RRencontre internationale à Sint Maarten|  International meeting in Sint Maarten
Rencontre internationale à Sint Maarten| International meeting in Sint Maarten

Saint Martin was the host for the first major transatlantic, trans-frontier event on the management of marine mammals! On March 28, 2015, representatives from France, Holland, Sint Maarten, Saba, Saint Eustatius, the AGOA sanctuary, the United States Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts Bay, the Dominican Republic’s sanctuary in Samana Bay, and SPAW-RAC worked together on the management theme, at the initiative of the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, responsible for the environment. This working session has several goals, of which the first was an exchange on the various actions completed by different sanctuaries around the Atlantic, not only on scientific information but also means of communication. An other important goal is to promote the new joint activities concerning humpback whales: scientific studies, information exchanges, communication campaigns, and a joint effort on acoustic monitoring. The long-term objective is the acquisition and sharing of information throughout the entire Caribbean, with a harmonization of protocols.

? Top