Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy

Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 19:27
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The Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy protects underwater ecosystems around the Caribbean Sea volcanic island, including shallow reefs, seagrass beds, and marine life. The Nature Reserve includes coral formations in five sectors.

Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy

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 to conserve coral reefs, seagrass beds, and marine life.

Saint Barthélemy (or St. Barts), an overseas collectivity of France, is a volcanic island in the Caribbean Sea fully encircled by shallow reefs. The island lies about 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Sint Maarten and 50 km (31 mi) northeast of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Saint Kitts & Nevis.

The Nature Reserve contains coral formations over 275 ha (680 acres). The five sectors of the Nature Reserve include:

  • Gros Îlets and Pain de Sucre off Gustavia harbour
  • Île Fourchue
  • Île Frégate
  • Île Toc Vers
  • A portion of Colombier Bay

Protected marine areas of the Nature Reserve are demarcated on nautical charts of the region. The management of the Nature Reserve of Saint Barthélemy 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 in this Nature Reserve is the poisonous lionfish, which 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 the loss of nestling ground for 15 terrestrial birds. Six species of water birds have also been recorded in the island's ponds.

The bird population witnesses a boost during the winter when many 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).