700 new species identified in the waters of Saint Martin!
At the time when the Réserve Naturelle de Saint Martin was created, a total of 480 different species of flora and fauna were estimated to exist in the various zones on land and at sea.
But that was before a recent scientific mission listed more than 700 marine species.
This inventory of fauna, which is part of the Réserve’s management program, took place from April 9-28, 2012. It was commissioned by the Réserve, financed by the DEAL, and orchestrated by The Marine Environment Observatory of Martinique, with the support of seven university professors, comprising four from the University of Florida and the other three from Brazil, Martinique, and the American Virgin Islands.
The three classifications included in this study are crustaceans (shrimp, crabs...), mollusks (slugs, shellfish...), and echinoderms (sea urchins, starfish, ophiuroids...).
As part of this project, the scientific researchers did dives to take samples of the underwater milieu—sand, mud, rock, grasses, coral reefs—during the day as well as at night, in order not to miss nocturnal species.
They sometimes used an underwater vacuum or a brush to capture the smallest species (less than 1 centimeter).
The first samples were inspected at a portable laboratory set up in their rental villa, including scrutiny under a microscope.
Certain samples are still under observation, others surprisingly colorful and graceful, but the final results won’t be available until September 2012.
And maybe we will discover a species unknown until now…
The objective is to create a catalogue combining photos of all the species that were observed, both male and female. And yet, in addition to this important work, there are many samples and animals to observe, on other sites, at other moments, at other depths, without even mentioning the parasites that depend on their hosts.
This study confirms the importance of the natural marine resources in the Réserve.
The Nature Reserve of Saint Martin
Photos : OMMM - Arthur Anker