2018 was a year of hurricane recovery and new beginnings for the
Sint Eustatius National Parks Foundation.
Trails were reopened, projects started and events held.
New faces joined the family as we said farewell to some teammates.
A new bi-annual bird survey started in May and was repeated in November. The post-Irma reforestation project also started in November, after the 2018 hurricane period.
Statia’s marine life, both large and small had great successes in 2018. The National Marine Park got a major upgrade as Statia signed unto the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary. Jessica Berkel (Marine Park Manager) and Francois Mille (Marine Park Ranger) received special training with Nature Foundation St Maarten. We look forward to future monitoring and protection of our largest marine animals.
Our coral nursery contains five (5) rope ladders, of five rungs each and have been filled to almost full capacity with coral fragments. Each rung can hold up to 10 corals. The increased growth and survival rate of the corals on these ‘trees’ increases the coral cover of our reefs once they are ‘out-planted’. The coral cover has been declining locally and regionally due to many factors.
Both land and sea got their own events this year with Iguana Day joining Shark Week at the beginning of summer. In addition to Iguana Day, an Iguana Sleuth workshop was held to increase the knowledge of the Lesser Antillean iguana among our island’s educators. An established Iguana Hotline assisted the protection of Statia’s largest land animal even further. The spotlight on the iguana was greatest as four of them took a trip to the Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam earlier in the year.
The last official Shark Week was held in 2018 and the Annual Clean Up took place once again with the collaboration of the GVP school management. Thanks to everyone that took part in the planning and execution. We were able to work with the Golden Rock Dive Centre during this year’s Summer Camp. The dive center gave the students a well-received introduction to a skill that can provide both recreation and employment in the future.
We celebrated our 30th Anniversary in November 2018 and we look forward to another, even better 30 years.
There was a bittersweet development as there was a change in the STENAPA family. We said our goodbyes to Hannah Fairley (Education and Outreach Officer), Mervina Redan (Marine Park Ranger), Erik Houpeten (Marine Park Ranger) and Nadio Spanner (Garden Ranger). We then welcomed Francois Mille as one of the new Marine Park Rangers. Achsah Mitchell has taken up the position of Education and Outreach Officer. Marit Pistor will start her new position as MP ranger in late February.
Another changing out of the guard happened at the Intern House. Years of interns and volunteers have come to know and … respect Vinny, the STENAPA cat. Sadly, he passed late this year.
New and returning programs will be rolling out such as ‘Nature Talks’ with GRDC guests and other evening lecture. The reforestation will continue, with most of the activity occurring in 2019. Renovation plans for the Botanical Garden are being developed and executed and will be ready for your frequent visits. We look forward to working with a new Garden Ranger. Lessons in the schools, after-school clubs and Chapel Piece have returned after a hiatus in 2018. Listen out for our returning radio program, ‘Nature on Statia’. The fun will continue with the beginning of our shark tagging program. Talking about sharks, well-loved aspects of Shark Week may return should we find the necessary funding. The future looks eventful, and Statia’s nature will benefit.