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.

Environmental Communication And Education

Environmental Communication And Education

Environmental Communication And Education

The day after Irma hit, the Réserve was already worrying about its financial capacity to repair the damage. More than half of the Réserve’s budget is based on its ability for self-financing, to the point of 470,000 euros per year, thanks to economic and eco-touristic activities authorized to operate on its most beautiful sites, but most of which will not be in operation in 2018. Knowing that the damage caused by Irma to these protected sites was estimated at close to 850,000 euros, the Réserve decided to launch a “Go- FundMe” campaign to raise money. The ideas was to invite friends of the environment to support the financing of the Réserve in its new mission, that of saving the biodiversity of these exceptional sites and make sure they are restored to their original beauty. Result: 90 donors gave 7,600 euros. A sum that doesn’t come close to the needs of the Réserve, but every euro helps, and this money has been used to finance the first cleanup operations. Thanks to all participants!

Un bel article paru dans l’édition de VSD du 4 janvier 2018 © Alexis Rosenfeld A nice article appeared in the January 4, 2018 edition of VSD © Alexis Rosenfeld
Un bel article paru dans l’édition de VSD du 4 janvier 2018 © Alexis Rosenfeld A nice article appeared in the January 4, 2018 edition of VSD © Alexis Rosenfeld

In Saint Martin in mid-December 2017, journalist Alexie Valois and photographer Alexis Rosenfeld came to make a report on the state of the island almost four months after hurricane Irma hit. But their meeting with the staff of the Réserve Naturelle encouraged them to take a special interest in the island’s protected natural sites and especially the underwater milieu. This article and its exceptional photos appeared in the January 4, 2018 edition of VSD, and accents the work done over the past 20 years by the Réserve Naturelle in Saint-Martin, while indicating the huge task ahead of us before these natural areas are brought back to the good health and beauty they had before this catastrophe.

Gros nettoyage en vue à l’étang de la Barrière Big clean up planned for the Etang de la Barrière
Gros nettoyage en vue à l’étang de la Barrière Big clean up planned for the Etang de la Barrière

If the reconstruction of Saint Martin is advancing with baby steps, the vegetation is rapidly taking over and it is now urgent to cleanup our natural sites before the debris is completely recovered by vines and new growth. To this end, the Conservatoire du Littoral has recently called for proposal for the cleanup work on all such sites in Saint Martin, which will be done under the surveillance of the Réserve Naturelle. This operation will particularly focus on sites along the Route du Galion, the Etang de la Barrière, The Etang de Chevrise, Lucas Bay, the Salines d’Orient, The Etang aux Poissons, and the Etang de l’Anse Marcel. For example, there is a car that must be removed from the Etang de la Barrière and a fishing boat from Lucas pond. Once these efforts are accomplished, it remains to restore the bird observatories destroyed by the hurricane, including the observatory at the Etang du Cimetière de Grand-Case, which was partly destroyed during the stocking of hurricane debris put there by the Collectivity.

Nature Regains Its Rights! In mid-December, the Conservatoire du Littoral hired a Saint Martin company to destroy the refuge for dogs that had been illegally built at Galion and condemned by the court to be demolished. The same company also removed the rubble and remains of the building house sheltering the generator of a restaurant that had been on the site illegally for years and summoned to leave by the Conservatoire.
© Franck Roncuzzi
© Franck Roncuzzi

Thirty high-school students from the Cité Scolaire now know the small island of Pinel like the back of their hands. On Friday, May 19, they spent the afternoon at this idyllic site, both on land and in the water. On dry land, they enjoyed a guided tour with Ashley Daniel and Caroline Fleury, who showed them the local flora, explained how sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach, and told them about the large numbers of an invasive species of iguana on the island: Iguana iguana, which today is outnumbering the native species, Iguana delicatissima. In the water, Amandine Vaslet and Julien Chalifour took over and revealed the ecosystem made up of plant beds, coral reefs, and resident fauna that the students could observe with their masks and snorkels. An awareness campaign for students is an important mission for the Réserve Naturelle, in which certain teachers also participate as part of this initiative.

Nageoire caudale d’une baleine à bosse dans la Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin - Caudal fin of a humpback whale in the Nature reserve of Saint Martin © Michel Vély
Nageoire caudale d’une baleine à bosse dans la Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin - Caudal fin of a humpback whale in the Nature reserve of Saint Martin © Michel Vély

In keeping with its management objectives, the Agoa sanctuary has made recommendations and indicated proper behavior for boats during high-caliber nautical events, in order to reduce any potential impact on marine mammals and the risks of collision, disturbance, or harassment. In 2017, five regattas and a great number of boats benefitted from this advice: the Heineken Regatta in March with a fleet of 220 sailboats; The Bucket in Saint Barth, also in March, with 40 super yachts; Les Voiles de Saint-Barth, where 70 sailboats competed in April; the Mini Bucket in April, with 80 participants; and finally the Hippocup in June with 32 boats sailing between Saint Martin, Anguilla, and Saint Barth. The race organizers and local authorities were consulted and an information sheet was slipped into the race packets for each participating regatta. This was possible thanks to Agoa’s close partnership with the new Direction de la Mer de Saint Martin, the prefecture, the Territorial Environmental Agency in Saint Barth, and of course the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin.

L’étang de la Barrière | The Barrière pond
The Barrière pond

Students at Mont des Accords decided to actively participate in the sustainable development of the environment on their island.

No sooner said, than done, and the green brigade at their school now has more than 20 members. In order to be better informed, and be able to best determine what activities to undertake, they asked for help from the Réserve Naturelle, which was of course happy to participate in this wonderful initiative. So on February 17, 2017, accompanied by their teacher, Mrs Maaroufi, other adults, and Julien Chalifour from the Réserve Naturelle, this green brigade set out on the trail through the mangrove at the Etang de la Barrière. They bombarded Chalifour with questions and are now more knowledgeable about the flora found in these wetlands, and the fauna that lives there. They also understand that the pond contributes to the purification of rainwater that goes into the sea, and that it serves as a nursery for baby fish. They also learned that the important role of the mangrove is seriously threatened, most notably by landfill, and that its restoration is a necessity. We will soon know more about their program, which will be divided between communication and field trips.

L’étang de la Barrière The Barrière pond
L’étang de la Barrière The Barrière pond

On September 6, 2016, the executive council of the Collectivité approved a land exchange with the Conservatoire du Littoral.

As owner of two pieces of land in the Quartier d’Orléans, the Conservatoire had suggested trading part of this land to the Collectivité in exchange for a natural site located along the edge of the Etang de la Barrière, in Cul-de-Sac. The land in the Quartier d’Orléans will be used in the construction of a new water treatment station (STEP). This trade is a win-win situation: The installation of the future STEP, designed to treat the wastewater of 18,000 residents, requires a large surface; and the Conservatoire, on the other hand, will have the possibility to manage the shores of the pond. This type of management, which is completely logical, is not possible on any of the salt ponds at the moment, as the property of the Conservatoire is limited to the water of the 14 ponds in question.

Un bécasseau poitrine cendrée Sandpiper with ash-colored breast © Julien Chalifour
Un bécasseau poitrine cendrée Sandpiper with ash-colored breast © Julien Chalifour

The Baie de l’Embouchure is one of eight pilot sites identified by the Conservatoire du Littoral as part of the Mang program, whose goal is to simplify the management of French overseas wetlands, in order to better preserve them.

The training of managers is planned, and in this light, the Réserve de Saint-Martin hosted ornithologist Anthony Levesque in order to strengthen the roles of Caroline Fleury and Ashley Daniel, in the field. To be able, for example, to differentiate the cry of a sandpiper from that of a chevalier, as both species were not visible at the moment they were counted during a scientific study. Run in conjunction with TeMeum and the Conservatoire du Llittoral, Mang is financed by the AFD and the European commission’s BEST program

Les récifs protègent de la houle la plage et la mangrove The reefs protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells
Les récifs protègent de la houle la plage et la mangrove The reefs protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells

To make young people aware of the impacts of climate change on the island’s ecosystems:

that is the theme that Julien Chalifour, director of the scientific department at the Réserve Naturelle, developed for the students in the bilingual classes - French/English - at the Mont des Accords middle school, on December 9, 2015. This intervention took place in response to an invitation from the school, in conjunction with an exhibit about the environment organized by the students. When Chalifour spoke, an attentive audience learned about the responsibility of every individual to reduce his footprint in nature, or risk degrading the quality of life on one hand, and limiting the efficiency of our ecosystems’ services, or services provided by nature that we aren’t always aware of. Chalifour also told the students about the importance of the role played by the reefs, which protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells, and in turn the mangrove contributes to the purification of water that goes out to sea, and also serves as a nursery for young fish, which provide a future economic resources for fishermen.

Julien Chalifour et les jeunes élèves | Julien Chalifour and the young pupils
Julien Chalifour et les jeunes élèves | Julien Chalifour and the young pupils

Sustainable development. A vast subject, and the focus of a special weeklong event held on May 31-June 4, 2016.

Organized by the Collectivité at the médiathèque for the benefit of students, the idea was to have each child serve as an ambassador for sustainable development in his or her own family. The Réserve Naturelle participated, with a stand on May 31 and June 1. Ashley Daniel, Caroline Fleury, Franck Roncuzzi, and Julien Chalifour did their best to teach this young public - very attentive and curious - about the challenges of sustainable development and the protection of our biodiversity. They dedicated a series of 30-minute sessions to meet with several classes from kindergarten through eighth grade.

On Friday, April 8, at the request of their teachers, two elementary school classes from the school in Cul-de-Sac invited Amandine Vaslet, Caroline Fleury, and Julie Walker,

To teach them more about their natural environment. Amandine Vaslet, from the program, «My School, My Whale,» taught this young audience about the importance of protecting marine mammals, sharing pedagogical materials created by her association. Julie Walker, presented the Conservatoire du Littoral in Saint Martin, spoke about the Conservatoire to the two classes and explained the importance of wetlands, before taking them on a field trip to the Etang de la Barrière. This school trip continued to the beach at Grandes Cayes, where the three professionals answered questions from the students, and spoke about various means of protecting sea turtles.

Les jeunes rencontrent Romain Renoux | The students meet with Romain Renoux
Les jeunes rencontrent Romain Renoux | The students meet with Romain Renoux

La Réserve Naturelle and the Agoa Sanctuary for the protection of marine mammals played an active role at the “Metiers de la Mer” Forum, organized by the CCISM on March 17, 2016.

Their goal was a public awareness campaign, directed particularly at students, as well as professionals in related fields, to emphasize the importance of protecting our marine mammals, and the actions taken with that in mind. Romain Renoux, the Agoa Sanctuary representative in Saint Martin, answered questions from high school students in the morning, and in the evening ran a conference on nautical professions, with presentations by Bulent Gulay, the president of Métimer, the association for nautical professionals, and Michael Wéry, head of maritime affairs on the island.

Les professeurs sur le terrain | The teachers on the field
Les professeurs sur le terrain | The teachers on the field

As tourism and the environment are closely intertwined, the St Martin branch of the Guadeloupe school board requested that the Réserve Naturelle

organize a training program for the 25 teachers of the tourism classes that were established three years ago. On the morning of April 22, 2016, the theoretic section of this training was held in a restaurant in Grand-Case, where Romain Renoux presented the various activities of the Réserve Naturelle and the Agoa Sanctuary to all of these academics. The practical part took place in the afternoon, aboard the catamaran, ScoobiToo, sailing between Creole Rock, Tintamare, and Pinel, and culminated with a clean up of the beach on the windward side of Tintamare. The teachers were able to witness first hand the work done by the Réserve and the challenges related to the preservation of natural sites. Numerous subjects were covered, including the protection of sea turtles and marine mammals, the threat the lionfish poses to our biodiversity, green iguanas, and pollution. The usage of the Réserve by tourists was also discussed, as well as the partnerships in place with boat rental companies, sports clubs, and the improvements made by Réserve at the most frequently visited sites: discovery trails, moorings, shelters, picnic tables… The teachers were given numerous tools to use during pedagogical outings, as a teacher from Soualiga middle school quickly did during an exchange program with Saint-Barth, in organizing a visit to the two trails at Pinel - underwater and on land - on May 30.

Nettoyage de la plage de Grandes Cayes | Cleaning of the Grandes Cayes beach
Nettoyage de la plage de Grandes Cayes | Cleaning of the Grandes Cayes beachUne partie de l’exposition Ghostnets| A glimpse ot the Ghostnets show

«Ghost nets,» or fishing nets abandoned in the ocean, constitute a serious danger for marine animals, many of which get caught in the webbing and die

In the north of Australia, this phenomenon led to a new art form among the native peoples, who transformed this fatal debris into art objects and gained the admiration of an international audience during a traveling exhibit. Made aware of this project by one of their teachers, four students - including one from Saint Martin - in the master’s program for the «Management of International Multi-Lingual Projects” at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, decided to bring this exhibit to Saint Martin as their final project. To do so, they created the association, CultuWide. As they had already presented their project to Nicolas Maslach in 2015, in Brest, during the third national colloquium on protected marine sites, the Réserve Naturelle supported their efforts, along with other partners such as the Tourist Office and the Collectivité. The exhibit was inaugurated on May 12, 2016 at the CCISM, with a discussion on May 13 and a film the next day. But the students’ efforts didn’t stop there: two days after their arrival on the island, they organized a clean up on the beach in Grandes Cayes. Their spoils: 18 large garbage bags of trash, including three fishing nets!

Une partie de l’exposition Ghostnets |  A glimpse ot the Ghostnets show

Bucket Regatta
Bucket Regatta

In the same vein as at the Heineken Regatta in early March 2016,

Agoa met with the organizers of the St Barth Bucket Regatta to increase their awareness about the protection of marine mammals during this nautical event, which took place this year on March 17-20. An informational sheet in English was included in the «race book» given to each crew. Olivier Raynaud, director of St Barth’s Territorial Environmental Agency, and Romain Renoux, representative of Agoa, also made a presentation during the pre-race briefing. They also went out on the committee boat during the race, and equipped with binoculars where able to make sure that no marine mammals got in the way of the large sailboats that participate in this prestigious regatta.

L’observatoire aux oiseaux de l’étang de Chevrise  The bird observatory at the Chevrise salt pond
L’observatoire aux oiseaux de l’étang de Chevrise The bird observatory at the Chevrise salt pond

As we announced in our last issue, the new bird observatory at the Chevrise salt pond is open to the public,

and located near the parking area at the Mont Vernon residence. One can now observe the avifauna that frequents the Chevrise salt pond in the best possible conditions. This site holds the bird watching award in terms of density, as one can see as many as 1,000 birds in just a quarter of an hour! Thanks to its four observatories - at the Barrière pond in Cul-de- Sac, the Grand-Case cemetery pond, the Lucas marsh in Oyster Pond, and now the Chevrise salt pond - Saint Martin has developed as a serious tourist attraction for bird watching, an activity in full expansion, especially in the United States. The shores still need to be improved and signage will be added to inform our bird watching friends about the various species present at the site.

Des collégiens de Marigot dans la mangrove | Middle school students from Marigot in the mangrove
Des collégiens de Marigot dans la mangrove | Middle school students from Marigot in the mangrove

After a successful initial contact (read following article), the Réserve Naturelle then met with sixth graders at the Mont des Accords middle school, on February 23.

Julien Chalifour, and his associate Caroline Fleury, led an event as part of an international wetlands day, about these zones that are not very well known. This second scientific foray for students was the perfect occasion to delve into the mangrove, a species of flora that play a purification role, serve as a fish nursery, and provide a zone for rest and feeding of birds. The mangroves, located along the shorelines, are constantly threatened by dumping and illegal cutting down, which reduce their surface. The Réserve Naturelle and the Conservatoire du Littoral have also put various actions into place for the protection and restoration of the salt ponds and mangroves: regulations to respect, reforestation via the planting of young trees, bird observation, the quality of the water, the surface of the mangroves… This presentation also provided an opportunity to discuss the issue of the sargassum seaweed, whose development is intimately linked to the lack of purification of water coming from the islands; waters rich in organic materials that favor the growth of algae.

Les récifs protègent de la houle la plage et la mangrove | The reefs protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells
Les récifs protègent de la houle la plage et la mangrove | The reefs protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells

impacts of climate change To make young people aware of the impacts of climate change on the island’s ecosystems:

that is the theme that Julien Chalifour, director of the scientific department at the Réserve Naturelle, developed for the students in the bilingual classes - French/English - at the Mont des Accords middle school, on December 9, 2015. This intervention took place in response to an invitation from the school, in conjunction with an exhibit about the environment organized by the students. When Chalifour spoke, an attentive audience learned about the responsibility of every individual to reduce his footprint in nature, or risk degrading the quality of life on one hand, and limiting the efficiency of our ecosystems’ services, or services provided by nature that we aren’t always aware of. Chalifour also told the students about the importance of the role played by the reefs, which protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells, and in turn the mangrove contributes to the purification of water that goes out to sea, and also serves as a nursery for young fish, which provide a future economic resources for fishermen.

L’étang de Chevrise vu du ciel | Aerial view of Chevrise Pond
L’étang de Chevrise vu du ciel | Aerial view of Chevrise Pond

Good news for bird lovers! Thanks to revenue raised from parking at the site, the Conservatoire du Littoral and the Réserve Naturelle have started construction of a fourth observatory, which is located near the parking lot for the Mont Vernon residence. By the end of the year, it will be possible to enjoy observing the aqua-fauna that visits the Etang de Chevrise. This pond holds the title for “best bird watching» in terms of sheer numbers, as one can observe more than 1,000 birds in just 15 minutes! It will be interesting to see the new architecture for an area large enough to hold an entire class. Thanks to the four observatories - at the Etang de la Barrière in Cul-de- Sac, the Etang du Cimetière à Grand-Case, the Baie Lucas pond, and Etang de Chevrise - Saint Martin is a true leader in tourism linked to «bird watching», a sector that is continuing to expand, especially in the United States. Locally, the increased possibility to discover the numerous species of birds seen on the salt ponds should help the public to modify its somewhat negative vision of these eco-systems - which are so essential and so rich.

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.

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.

La Réserve présentée aux élus
La Réserve présentée aux élus

On June 30th, the general assembly of the Management Association of the Nature Reserve was held at the Collectivité, and President Aline Hanson warmly congratulated the Reserve team for the sound information that was transmitted to the elected officials. All actions carried out by the Reserve in 2014 were presented, the 2013 budget was presented and approved, and the 2014 budget was also presented.

Firstly we must remember that the Reserve is now more than 15 years old, and has reached a certain maturity. It is no longer seen as the «troublemaker », as was the case in the beginning. The public appreciates what the Reserve represents, and the benefits that it brings to Saint-Martin, whose main economy is tourism which totally depends on the quality of the environment. On the subject of tourism, the director of the reserve, Nicolas Maslach, stressed that birdwatching is an ecotourism activity that is developing worldwide and that generates approximately $15 billion per year. Saint-Martin, although still fairly unknown for this activity, is an excellent birdwatching destination with large populations of diverse species, very few hunters, birds that are accustomed to human activities (airplanes, construction ...) and can easily be observed. The audience was shown a film about the artificial reef that the Reserve installed (see pages 10 and 11) and was able to visually follow the rapid development of wildlife, particularly the presence of numerous spiny lobsters. After the screening, Christophe Henocq, a member of the association, put forward the idea of installing this type of reef for fishermen outside the Reserve territory. He asked what the cost of such a project would be, and what the expectations were. Nicolas Maslach replied that the cost of installing about 100 modules in an appropriated zone would rise to about 150,000€. He noted that this project was initiated by the Reserve as an act of conservation, but that it could in fact open up new economic opportunities superior to those already in place. He added that thought should be given to an appropriate regulation and to the allocation of the AOT by the administrator, which would need to be defined. After the budget presentation, Bruno Lizé, a chartered accountant, stated that the Nature Reserve’s own resources are now sufficient to finance most of its actions. He added that the development of the Reserve’s financial resources is in line with its steadily growing development and activity, and that the Reserve is at the starting point of new environmental and economic challenges that match its ambitions.

College students from Mont des Accords at Tintamare
College students from Mont des Accords at Tintamare

The Reserve is continuing to work together with the school establishments as part of “Environmental Communication and Education” that forms part of their plan of action. The 4th year pilot class studying Tourism at the collège in Quartier d’Orléans was particularly spoiled. After an initial presentation given in class by Romain Renoux and Daniel Lewis, these students were taken on two field trips to further their knowledge and explore the reserve. The first trip that took place on May 23rd between the Barrière salt pond and Froussards Trail, gave them the opportunity to see the salt ponds and the coastal area of their island through new eyes. The second field trip had a definite pre-holiday feel about it as they sailed out on the motorized catamaran, Scoobicat, on June 6th. This excursion was the opportunity for them to admire their island from the sea, to discover the smaller islands of Créole Rock, Tintamare and Pinel, and to be made aware of the tourist interest in these magnificent natural sites. Another class, as part of the educational success program, this time from collège Mont des Accords, was lucky enough to embark on an excursion out to sea with Scoobicat on May 16th. The students visited Créole Rock, then Pinel, and they ended their trip off with a long swim at Baie Blanche beach at Tintamare.

We previously published several amazing photos of the 818 species of crustaceans, echinoderms and mollusks that had been identified in the Reserve waters in April 2012.

In order for the entire public to benefit, the Reserve is organizing a mobile exhibition that consists of fifteen posters and a large triptych summarizing the results of the mission.

The exhibition will be displayed in schools, and also in all sorts of different public places as well as at public events. Note: TeMeUm is funding the project as part of environmental education.

An educational field trip to Cactus Place
An educational field trip to Cactus Place

On May 26th, the Reserve guards gave a guided tour to a dozen students enrolled in the ULIS (Unité localisée pour l’inclusion scolaire) class at the collège in Quartier d’Orléans, up to Cactus Place, at the edge of Froussards Trail. The college students were given a general presentation about the ecosystems in the Reserve, and today they all know about the Melocactus intortus - or the «Turks Head” - a protected species that abounds in the dry forest zones.

A taste of the holidays at Galion

Initiated by Adeline Arnaud a teacher at the school, Élie Gibbs, students from two CM1 classes got a little taste of the holidays on June 16th during a field trip out to the site of Galion. As they are accustomed to doing so, the Reserve guards raised the children’s awareness about protecting the natural environment and they gave them a presentation about the ecosystems on the site.

23,328 people have clicked on the beautiful photographs of humpbacks published on the Reserve’s Facebook page after the Megara mission, and 384 people have shared them with their contacts. If you’re curious, go to the page “Réserve naturelle nationale de Saint-Martin”, and read about the day to day news from the Reserve. And don’t hesitate to share the fantastic visuals with all your friends!

Les collégiens sur la plage de Grandes Cayes The students on Grandes Cayes Beach
Les collégiens sur la plage de Grandes Cayes The students on Grandes Cayes Beach

A relay class from Collège Soualiga played truant for an afternoon on February 19th the opportunity to discover the island’s main ecosystems on Grandes Cayes Beach and along the Froussards nature trail took the opportunity to discover the island’s main ecosystems on Grandes Cayes Beach and along the Froussards nature trail. This educational field trip was organized by the Nature Reserve, who is always willing to assist with environmental education. The students finished the walk with a beach cleanup, which unfortunately, is something that is always necessary on this long wild beach.

A pilot class meets the Reserve

To study Science at school is interesting, but it’s even better when the Nature Reserve itself comes into your class and presents coral reefs, as well as invasive terrestrial and marine species that have been introduced to Saint Martin. The Reserve showed a film that definitely caught the attention of the students in this 4th class at College Quartier d’Orléans, who bombarded Romain Renoux, in charge of the Nature Reserve’s “pedagogy”, and Reserve guard Daniel Lewis, with questions afterwards.

Une classe visiblement ravie d’avoir rencontré la Réserve naturelle Daniel Lewis who was recently hired as a guard by the Nature Reserve, presented his profession to the students, his interest in the protection of the environment and his passion for his island. This pilot class is studying tourism, under the convention signed between the National Education Board, the Tourist Office and the Collectivité, and is very interested in the career opportunities that are opening up little by little each year in the growing sector of ecotourism
Le sentier de découverte à l’étang de la Barrière | The nature trail on the Etang de la Barrière
Le sentier de découverte à l’étang de la Barrière | The nature trail on the Etang de la Barrière

Caribbean recognition for the mangrove trail

The nature trail leading to the discovery of the mangroves and birdlife on the Etang de la Barrière that was built in 2012-2013 by the Conservatoire du Littoral has been included on the “Caribbean Birding Trail” list. This is an initiative to classify the best bird watching spots in the Caribbean. For bird watching fans, this recognition places our little island of Saint-Martin on a par with destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba. This is a cornerstone development for ecotourism in Saint-Martin, where the fourteen salt ponds, protected by the Conservatoire, host remarkable birdlife. Last September a Migratory Bird Festival was held at the Etang de la Barrière on the International Migratory Bird Day. This event was organized under the initiative of the association “Les Fruits de Mer” and over 200 people attended.

The Mont des Accords Convention

As part of the Environmental Education Mission, the Nature Reserve signed a partnership agreement with the Collège Mont des Accords, as it previously did with the two other collèges on the island. This convention applies particularly to the students in the insertion program, whom the Reserve will meet on the educational outings into the field.

The Reserve gets involved in teaching tourism

The framework agreement signed in June 2013 between the Collectivité, National Education and the Tourist Office to include tourism in the subjects taught in the Saint-Martin high schools also concerns the Nature Reserve. It will join in the work to teach the students more about their natural heritage. As part of this agreement the students will be taught about the presence of marine mammals in our region.

AGOA and the Reserve attend the Science Fair

The Reserve participated in the Science Fair which was held from November 25th to 29th at the Lycée. They held an exhibition devoted to the AGOA Sanctuary and to the scientific inventory program of molluscs, echinoderms and crustaceans, conducted in 2012.

La Réunion
La Réunion

Saint-Martin is honored in Reunion

The press in Reunion mentioned the Saint-Martin Nature Reserve and its good practices when Nicolas Maslach attended the International Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, and Franck Roncuzzi’s formation of a companionship with the Reunion Marine Reserve.

The Reserve featured in Discover...

In order to enhance the quality of the work of its commercially operating partners, and also to inform the tourists who come from the world over, the Reserve

... And in the Turquoise

s is the case every year, the Turquoise guidebook, published for the association of maritime professionals, Métimer, dedicates over twenty pages to the Nature Reserve and the AGOA Sanctuary. There are 40,000 printed copies, and it is available at marinas on the island and in hotels

 

La Réunion
La Réunion
Discover 2014
Discover 2014
Discover 2014
Discover 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Turquoise 2014
Sortie en mer pour le parquet et la gendarmerie
The Prosecutors and the Gendarmerie out on a boat trip

The new Commander of the Gendarmerie, Paul
Bétaille, the Public Prosecutor, Flavien Noailles,
and the Public Prosecutor’s Delegate, Daniel Vigoulette,
were taken out by the Reserve in their
boat, the Contender, to visit Creole Rock, Pinel
and Tintamare; a discovery trip organized specifically
for them. This boat trip out into the field
has given them a clearer image on issues of procedure
and has left them with a better understanding
of the context in which certain offenses
occur. It was also an opportunity to highlight the
excellent cooperation between the Reserve and
the Gendarmerie’s Water Brigade, as well as the
availability of government services that support
the reserve in their missions every day.

Panneau anti-uv
UV resistant signboards

The tropical sun has the unfortunate tendency to deteriorate exterior signboards, making
them illegible in three or four years. There have also been several acts of vandalism
on existing signboards. This however, won’t be the case for the educational
signboards recently put up by the Conservatoire du littoral on Pinel, at Coralita and
along the trail of Froussards, nor those erected around the Barriére Salt Pond. They
are made from a UV-resistant material (layered digital printing), and are more resistant
to degradation, their only downfall is their expense. Considering, however, that the investment
is worth it in the long term, the Conservatoire has financed the replacement
of the signs that have already been erected on other reserve sites by the guards.

Sortie 17/05/2013
Collège Soualiga on the stilted walkway

Field trips are organized throughout the year and always end up a huge success with the youth.

  • On February 1st, a Guadeloupian BTS Tourism class took advantage of their trip to Saint- Martin to follow the Pinel trail, along with rangers of course.
  • On February 19th, a class from the primary school in Grand-Case lent a hand to the Reserve team to clean up Grandes Cayes beach.
  • The island of Pinel and its trail were visited by a class from the Collège Quartier d’Orleans on April 9th, then a class from Collège Mont des Accords on April 15th.
  • On May 14th, eleven adults on a training course for «internet network», at the Fore IDN training center, went to Pinel as part of the environmental unit included in their training program.
  • On May 17th, students from a ‘classe relais’ from Collège Soualiga were the first students to inaugurate the new stilted walkway at the Barrière salt pond, where they were very interested to discover the mangroves and the birds that inhabit them.

A BTS Tourism class at PinelCollège Mont des Accords at Pinel

Caraibes Magazine
Caraibes Magazine

Congratulations to Îles Caraïbes Magazine

In the latest edition of Îles Caraïbes Magazine, the Nature Reserve was the subject of an excellent article written by Aurélien Brusini, who is also the photographer of some beautiful pictures that put the fauna and flora of this protected area in real value.

The birds are in Zing

Birds from the Reserve and the salt ponds in Sa int-Ma rtin are in Zing, the in-flight magazine for LIAT. Zing Magazine

 

Carpenters at work on the trail © Conservatoire du Littoral

The construction of the boardwalk discovery trail at the Barrière salt pond in Cul-de-Sac that was started in September 2012, is now open to the public.
This stilted wooden trail will allow the public to explore the mangroves and discover the fascinating ecosystem that is dominated by the mangroves; it is also a favorite spot for many birds.
The layout has been adapted to minimize the impact of the construction on the many birds that frequent this sensitive wetland. It also takes into account the comments from the Regional Scientific Council of Natural Heritage (CSRPN). Educational signage with information on the pond, mangroves and associated fauna are currently being made.
The purpose of this trail is both educational and touristic.
The entrance is not far from the pier to Pinel Island. Developed by the Conservatoire du Littoral (Coastal Conservancy), financed with funds from the State and Europe, the trail will officially be opened at the Conseil des Rivages Français d’Amérique (Committee meeting of the French shores of America) – an annual meeting of the Conservatoire du Littoral for the French Antilles, Guyana and Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
This meeting will be held in April 2013, in Saint-Martin.

Point de vue sur la mangrove et les échasses d’Amérique © Conservatoire du littoral

All about the CRFA

Brings together elected members from saint-martin, st. barths, guadeloupe, martinique, guyana and saint Pierre and miquelon.
The invested interest that the elected officials have in safeguarding their environment is up to their extent of involvement in the CRFA: a hundred of them will participate in the next CRFA to be held in saint-martin in april 2013.
They will validate the program and new scopes of land intervention for the conservatoire du littoral before submission to the board of Directors of the conservatoire.

 

Un nouveau site internet pour la Réserve
Un nouveau site internet pour la Réserve

Finally, the Saint Martin Nature Reserve has an actual website.
An absolute must to see, go to www.reservenaturelle-saint-martin.com.
Attractive and informative, the site is in French and English and is a great showcase for the tourism industry on an international level.
It also enables the Reserve to raise awareness of their actions and highlight the Reserve’s local tour operator partners.
All scientific documents put together by the Reserve are available online, as well as the Management Plan, a review of press releases, archives of the Reserve’s Newsletters and Annual Activity Reports.Site de la Réserve

Signing of the agreement between Mr. Arlhac and Romain Renoux © St Martin’s Week
Signing of the agreement between Mr. Arlhac and Romain Renoux © St Martin’s Week

After the junior high school in Quartiers d’Orléans and the senior high school, Lycée des Iles du Nord, it was the junior high school:
Collége Soualiga’s, time to sign a partnership agreement with the Nature Reserve.
The signing between the principal, Mr. Arlhac and Romain Renoux, Director of the Reserve, took place on November 27th, 2012.
This agreement is part of the mission for environmental education which brings matters back to the Reserve and is based on five major points:

The organization of conferences at the Collége by representatives of the Reserve.

Students to be accompanied on educational field trips, both on land and at sea, taken within the territories of the Reserve and the Conservatoire du Littoral. 

Student participation in school projects for ecological restoration of habitats, as well as cleaning up of sites. 

Participation of one class towards writing articles for the Reserve’s Newsletter.

Assistance from the Reserve at the swimming area in Galion, in collaboration with the PE teachers.

The first conference was chaired by Romain Renoux on December 21st, and since then the teachers at the junior high know everything there is to know with regards to the role of the Nature Reserve and issues relating to environmental protection on its territory.

Romain Renoux, director of Réserve Naturelle, invited a first group of five employees from the Tourist Office to take a day’s holiday in the Réserve Naturelle.
On September 6, as they played at being tourists on the boat belonging to the Réserve, these tourism professionals visited Tintamare, Rocher Créole, Caye Verte and finally Pinel, where everyone in the small group dove under the waves along the underwater trail.
This informal excursion will be renewed for all of the tourist office personnel with an eye toward a better understanding of the island’s natural resources for those who come into contact with visitors on a daily basis.
This event also allowed Renoux to show off the various items provided by the Réserve —picnic tables, shelters, signage and moorings…as well as by its partners— boat rentals, diving clubs, nautical sports…
Over 40,000 tourists visited the Réserve Naturelle in 2011 and helped pay for its financing through the 1.52 euro fee paid per person per day. The fee is collected for the Réserve via its partners.

These american journalists invited by the Tourist Office are ready to discover the underwater trail on Pinel.

L’Écho Touristique, hebdomadaire des industries du tourisme, consacre sa une et cinq pages de textes et de belles photos à Saint-Martin, dans son édition du 25 mai 2012.
La Réserve naturelle se voit accordée la large place qu’elle mérite dans cet article destiné à inciter les professionnels à vendre la destination : Tintamare, la baie du Galion, le chemin des Froussards et les étangs sont cités, comme autant de raisons de choisir Saint- Martin et de l’apprécier.

 

Marie-Estelle Voisin-Wünschendorff et Romain Renoux

The Tuesday, June 26 opening of an exhibit of work by Marie-Estelle Voisin-Wünschendorff at the Galerie Tropismes in Grand Case was a rousing success.
Passionate about nature and environmental protection, Voisin-Wünschendorff is also a talented artist as seen in drawings she made of 50 different birds she discovered in Saint Martin.
 It is possible to see the entire collection of this work in the booklet, “Saint Martin As The Bird Flies,” for sale in bookstores on the island.
Each drawing is accompanied with information about the bird and its behavior, as well as the best time to observe each one, and its reproductive season.
The Réserve Naturelle and the Littoral Conservancy are sponsors of this handsome little book and thank Paul Elliott Thuleau for hosting this exhibit.

After taken the Sentier des Froussards and hiked as far as Cactus Place, eight kids from the island on a school trip spent time picking up trash on the beach in Grandes Cayes, where they filled 22 trash bags. Donnie Arey, a professional American basketball coach, lent a big hand, along with the rangers of the Réserve. This excursion was organized on May 9 at the request of the gendarmerie’s brigade for the prevention of juvenile delinquency, as one of its ongoing activities.

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On May 30, approximately 20 junior high school students from French Quarter took their first dive with air tanks at the Remorqueur dive site, in the waters off the coast of Tintamare. Enthusiastic about this initiation to diving organized by Bubbles dive club and junior high teachers, the kids continued with a hike on Tintamare, where they discovered the flora and protected sites on this little island, in the company of rangers of the Réserve.

Almost 100 high school and junior high students participated in a nautical fair on Saturday, May 12, and sailed as far as the little island of Tintamare, in the heart of the Réserve Naturelle, with a coastline protected by the Littoral Conservancy.
Invited by Métimer, a marine professionals association, the Conservancy and the Réserve had organized a hike, which allowed small groups of students to explore the island, with its flora natural sites.
They all appreciated the pleasures of this outing at land and at sea.

Romain Renoux explains the Coralita site to Philippe Chopin and Mathieu Doligez (right)

On January 16, a few weeks after his arrival on the island, Philippe Chopin met the staff of the Réserve Naturelle it its offices in Anse Marcel.
The new prefect then embarked on the boat belonging to the Réserve, accompanied by his cabinet director Mathieu Doligez, the secretary general of the prefecture Afif Lazrac, and Pierre Leconte, the environmental engineer representing the prefecture in terms of sustainable development.
The prefect, who enjoys being on the water, discovered Rocher Créole, Tintamare, and Pinel, and was able to evaluate the missions and challenges of the Réserve, as well as the difficulties it faces in executing its functions.
Very sensitive to the preservation of natural resources, he appreciated the improvements that have been made - signage, moorings, picnic-tables, shelters, nature trails - and understood by observing the level of commercial activity around the islands that these protected areas - still far from becoming a sanctuary - represent a tool, and a real asset, in terms of the further development of tourism in Saint Martin.
On January 27, Romain Renoux and Béatrice Galdi, from the Littoral Conservancy, took Philippe Chopin and Mathieu Doligez on a field trip to discover the land-based aspects of the Réserve and the Littoral Conservancy.
They visited the Coralita site, along the shore and Galion Bay.
They both admired the eco-tourism improvements added here - the whale watching observatory, the shelters, the informational signage - and at the Carti site they were able to see an example of a site that had been seriously degraded and which Réserve plans to make a pilot site, opening it to scholars and to tourists.

This visit, scheduled a few days before the Réserve’s advisory committee meeting allowed the prefect to thoroughly comprehend all of the items on the agenda.

Coralita: a good site for cultural enrichment

Informational signage was added to the whale watching observatory and the two shelters opened in 2010 by the Littoral Conservancy at the important Coralita site, visited by numerous tourists, completing the improvements at this eco-tourism site.
A general information sign is located at the entry to the site, while a sign presenting the protected marine species can be found in each of the shelters.
Finally, three signs in the observatory explain the marine and land-based ecosystems as well as the good practices allowing the public to enrich its knowledge.

The Littoral Conservancy with support from Europe (FEDER) financed this project.

Oui likes the Réserve Naturelle

Oui Magazine, a chic quarterly about weddings, did not forget the Réserve Naturelle in its article “Saint Martin la chaleureuse”, written by Delphine Planchon and published in February 2012.
The journalist recommended that her readers visit the small islands of Tintamare, Pinel, and Caye Verte while underlining the importance of the flora and fauna that one can see on land and at sea within the boundaries of the Réserve.

Thank you, Oui!

Saint Martin for bird lovers

Nature lovers and bird watchers will be happy to discover the 24 beautiful drawings designed by Marie-Estelle Voisin, biologist, artist and resident of the island for the past 10 years. Presented in a booklet called “Saint Martin à vol d’oiseaux”, each drawing is accompanied by a detailed commentary about the bird that is pictured: how to recognize it, its feeding patterns and its reproductive behavior.
An observation guide and several maps encourage amateurs to get out the binoculars to observe the Great Egret, the Grey Plover, the Yellow- crowned Night Heron or the Pied-billed Grebe. For beginners, this is a good way to encounter the salt ponds and the shoreline, exceptional homes for a certain number of protected species.
The Réserve Naturelle and the Littoral Conservancy joined forces with the author to help fund this booklet as part of their mission of environmental education.

It is available at the Maison de la Réserve at Anse Marcel and will be for sale shortly in the island’s bookstores.

“Rivages d’outre-mer:” the Conservancy in far-away France

2011 was the year of Overseas France and the perfect opportunity for the Littoral Conservancy to prepare the publication of “Rivages d’outre-mer” (Overseas Shores), which has been on sale in bookstores since early 2012. With 80 pages and several hundred beautiful photographs emblematic of the shores of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, this book retraces the ongoing activities of the Conservancy for the past 30 years in the eight Overseas Collectivities, including Saint Martin.
The presentation of each collectivity is personalized by the observations of a resident - Kate Richardson in Saint Martin, for example - and his or her vision about the necessity to protect the coasts and the emotions that these exceptional sites evoke on a personal basis. A book that is perfect for everyone, naturally.

Informational signage has been installed at the Coralita site
The Réserve was applauded in “Oui Magazine”


Tadzio Bervoets, du Marine Park de Sint Maarten, et Romain Renoux, de la Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin ont chacun reçu un chèque de 2500 dollars, remis par les organisateurs de la Heineken Regatta

Cette année encore, les organisateurs de la Heineken Regatta ont vendu des bracelets verts au profit de l’environnement et ont remis un chèque de 2500 dollars à la Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin et à la Sint Maarten Foundation.
Romain Renoux indique que cette somme sera réinvestie dans la réalisation du suivi scientifique de l’état de santé des récifs dans la Réserve.

Lamartine au Galion

Une trentaine d’élèves de l’école Lamartine ont bénéficié d’une sortie pédagogique et écologique sur le site du Galion, en compagnie des gardes Christophe Joe et Steeve Ruillet. Très motivés, les jeunes ont terminé la visite par un nettoyage de la plage. Bravo !

Une publication scientifique à l’école de Cul-de-Sac

Les botanistes en herbe du CM1 de l’école primaire de Cul-de-Sac travaillent sur un projet de livre numérique, destiné à présenter les trois grands écosystèmes qui composent la partie terrestre de la Réserve naturelle.
Ils se sont tout naturellement tournés vers la Réserve pour les aider à mener à bien leurs recherches et sont ainsi partis deux fois déjà en expédition dans la nature, en compagnie du garde Steeve Ruillet, lui-même très intéressé par leur travail.
Très attentifs, ces élèves ont scrupuleusement noté toutes les informations données par le garde et pris les bonnes photos, sur la plage de Grandes Cayes pour la végétation de bord de mer, autour de l’étang de la Barrière pour la mangrove et bientôt sur le sentier des Froussards, pour la forêt sèche. Plus d’informations sur ce livre dans notre prochaine édition !

Lamartine au Galion
Le CM1 de l’école de Cul-de-Sac dans la forêt sèche
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