The Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy, founded in 1996 to protect underwater ecosystems, covers 2,965 acres in five sectors. It was established with the objective of conserving coral reefs, sea grass beds and marine life. The reserve has coral formations in an area of 680 acres.
The Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy, founded in 1996 to protect underwater ecosystems, covers 1,200 ha (2,965 acres) in five sectors. It was established with the objective of conserving coral reefs, sea grass beds and marine life.
Saint Barthélemy (or St. Barths), an overseas collectivity of France, is a volcanic island in the Caribbean Sea, fully encircled by shallow reefs. The reserve contains coral formations over an area of 275 ha (680 acres).
The five sectors of the reserve include:
- Gros Îlets and Pain de Sucre off Gustavia harbour
- Île Fourchue
- Île Frégate
- Île Toc Vers
- part of Colombier Bay
Protected marine areas of the reserve are demarcated on nautical charts of the region. The management of the reserve rests with the Grenat Association.
Apart from Ascidiacea, sea sponges and anemones, there are 45 coral species recorded. Sea urchins, starfish, shellfish, crustaceans, a few sea turtles and 165 species of fish are also reported. An invasive species of fish found in this reserve is the lion fish, which is poisonous and has a dangerous bite.
The Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy is the habitat of 80 species of birds. The land area is small and its xerophytic vegetation is grazed by goats, causing loss of nestling ground for 15 terrestrial birds. Six species of water birds have also been recorded in the ponds of the island.
The bird population witnesses a boost during the winter when a large number of Neotropical migrant birds flock to the area. The key bird species recorded here are: brown booby (Sula leucogaster); laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla); royal tern (Thalasseus maximus); and common tern (Sterna hirundo).