The Saint-Martin National Nature Reserve protects the northeastern coast's environment, providing habitat to many species. The reserve comprises rocky shores, cliffs and beaches, while the offshore area comprises marine flowering plants and many coral formations.
Saint-Martin National Nature Reserve
The Saint-Martin National Nature Reserve is located in the northeastern part of the island of Saint Martin (French portion) and covers 3,060 ha (7,561 acres). The most significant part of the reserve is offshore, covering over 2,900 ha (7,166 acres).
The onshore part of the reserve comprises rocky coasts, cliffs and beaches, home to many species of seabirds. These include Northern Gannets, frigate birds, brown pelicans, and many herons which nest in the mangroves.
The variety of flora within the reserve includes cactus, bougainvillea, hibiscus, croton, paradise flower, poinsettia and Alpinia. Mammals found here include raccoon and mongoose, which feed on crabs, eggs, small fish living in the mangroves, and the many coral heads along the coast.
The Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) dominates the mangroves found in salt ponds. Ponds and mangroves are highly productive biological systems that provide a haven for young crustaceans and fish. They also offer food and shelter for many species of birds.
Sea turtles (Caretta caretta, Eretmochelys imbricata and Dermochelys coriacea) also come ashore onto the extensive beaches and islets of the east coast to nest and lay their eggs.
The offshore area of the Saint-Martin National Nature Reserve is composed of marine flowering plants and many coral formations. These dense shrub-like trees, like the coral reefs, shelter many species of invertebrates and mollusks (starfish, sea urchins, lobsters, slipper lobsters and conches) as well as many fish species (coffer-fish, grouper, surgeon fish, parrot-fish, tarpon, barracuda and angelfish).
From January to May, the offshore zone of the reserve is a gathering area for humpback whales, which are particularly fond of the shallow waters in the mating season. Large dolphins are also found a bit further out in the offshore areas.
The Saint-Martin National Nature Reserve aims to preserve the ecosystems and natural biodiversity of the plant and marine life on the island.
Saint-Martin National Nature Reserve is depicted on a topographical map.