Authors: Sylvia van Leeuwen, Adriaan Gmelig Meyling, Niels Schrieken and Susan J. Hewitt. Version: 10 december. 2016
Green turtle, Chelonia mydas, St.Eustatius (Source: Marion Haarsma)
The Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius has a very rich marine life, with coral reefs, sea grass beds and other marine habitats. Every year many tourists visit the island to explore this underwater beauty, and to see the rich fauna and flora of marine animals and plants. The ANEMOON Foundation wants to inform and involve both the public and the government in the marine life of the Dutch Caribbean.
ANEMOON Foundation wants to do this by gathering information about the marine flora and fauna of the island, and sharing this information with other parties. Increasing awareness and improving the extent of the knowledge about the marine life of the island are important for the protection and management of the National Marine Park.
ANEMOON wishes to contribute to the process of further developing this knowledge: which species live around St. Eustatius? Where do the native, rare, exotic and vulnerable species live? Which populations are growing or declining, and why? During 2015 and 2016, a baseline of knowledge was produced by efforts of the Statia Marine Expedition 2015. However, there is still a great deal more to explore and discover.
Via the ANEMOON monitoring project, everyone who visits the island can contribute by sharing his/ her observations. How?
Learn more about the marine life around St Eustatius
More information on is available:
The Field Guide to the Marine Life of St. Eustatius. This guide features nearly 300 vivid colour photographs exclusively made off St. Eustatius with recognition descriptions of fish, turtles, sea stars, corals, sea snails, crabs, marine plants, sponges, and many other kinds of underwater organisms. The guide includes a number of species that are native around Statia (as the island is affectionately known). Images of some strange and unusual creatures that are seldom seen anywhere are included, as well as many species that are common in other parts of the Caribbean. A printed version can be ordered at AMAZON. The price is $19,99. Online you can download a high resolution pdf or a low resolution pdf.
On our website, you will find photographs and extended information on over 190 Caribbean species: link.
Please help monitor the marine life around St. Eustatius
Every person who visits the island and who goes on a dive or a snorkel outing can make a valuable contribution. You will be helping science, and will be assisting the management and protection of the Statia marine environment.
All you have to do is observe, and share your observations. You can record your observations in several different ways:
- For people who already have a good knowledge of the marine flora and fauna in the Caribbean, an extended observation form is available. You are not expected to pay attention to all species; It is up to you to select species that you find most interesting.Single observations and/or photographs of marine species can be shared on http://statia.observation.org or on http://www.inaturalist.org.
- Use the good-looking and easy to use Observation Card. This card shows photos and short descriptions of 11 species that are easy to recognise and exciting to see. These species have been especially selected for the monitoring project on St Eustatius. You don’t need to have any prior knowledge of Caribbean species in order to be able to use this card.
- You can also send your observations by post or e-mail to: ANEMOON Foundation, P.O. Box 29, 2120 AA Bennebroek, The Netherlands, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
History of this project during 2015-2016
In 2015 and 2016, the ANEMOON Foundation carried out the project, “Conserving and monitoring the marine biodiversity of St. Eustatius”. The objectives of this project were:
- The participation of citizen scientists of the ANEMOON Foundation in the Marine Expedition 2015 to St. Eustatius, working alongside of scientists from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden
- To develop a knowledge network
- To make information on the species to be monitored more accessible
- To prepare and initiate a monitoring project with volunteers, and to develop the materials needed for this project
The project results so far have been the following:
Our experience with monitoring by divers
In the Netherlands, volunteers of the ANEMOON Foundation have monitored the marine flora and fauna since 1993. One of the volunteer projects is Monitoring Underwater Banks (MOO) carried out by divers. After each dive, the divers note down which species they observed, and how many. Divers can either pay attention to all the species on the list, or they can choose a subset of species which they are able to recognise or are particularly interested in. In this way, even beginners can contribute to the project. The MOO-method makes it possible to survey for which species populations are growing or declining. Governments and park managers can then use this information to take protective measures.However, this knowledge about the marine life is also shared with divers. Because, with growing knowledge, divers will see more, experience more, and treat marine nature with more respect.
The products we developed will be distributed digitally to tourists via the website. Printed copies will be distributed on the island via STENAPA, the dive centres, and other organisations involved in the project. Accommodation owners will be invited to let their guests know about the field guide and the observation form.Observations can be sent to the ANEMOON Foundation, P.O. Box 29, 2120 AA Bennebroek, The Netherlands, or by email to email@example.com. Hopefully in the future we can develop an app or web portal to share observations even more easily.The observations will be collected and analysed by the ANEMOON Foundation. Then the results will be shared with STENAPA, with other organisations participating in the knowledge network, and with citizen scientist who are actively contributing to the project.
The project “Conservation and Monitoring of the Marine Biodiversity of St. Eustatius" was carried out in 2015 and 2016 thanks to the financial support of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Caribisch Gebied and the great efforts of citizen scientists from the ANEMOON Foundation. We are very grateful for these supports; without this we could not have achieved the results we were able to obtain in 2015 and 2016.