December 30th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Our next day of snorkeling expeditions brought us to two shallow shipwrecks. The first was in Cay Bay, a boxy, barge-type wreck. The visibility was generally poor due to the swell, and the wreck was not too picturesque, but it was still worth checking out. The bay is currently being developed for a new hotel, so who knows what the area will look like in a year or two.

We cannot display this gallery

Traffic kept us from the south shore beaches, so we had lunch and then did a quick snorkel of the wreck in Galisbay. Again, visibility was poor, but it was still pretty fun to snorkel the half-submerged wreck.

We cannot display this gallery


December 30th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

On Monday we managed to visit four snorkeling sites. The first one was Gibbs Bay, which is located on the Dutch side between Dawn Beach and Guana Bay. It’s quite out of the way and also really nice. There were loads of soft corals, mixed schools of blue tang and surgeonfish and even some living elkhorn corals.

We cannot display this gallery

Next, we headed up to Dawn Beach and snorkeled the North side of the bay. Near the beach, there were some algae-covered patches of dead coral that were not that interesting. If you swim far enough to reach the outer side of the reef, there are a few soft corals, but overall it wasn’t that exciting.

We cannot display this gallery

Next we went to Coralita, the beach at Baie Lucas. The bay is relatively shallow, with sea grass and sand which gives way to some coral formations as you swim out. It seemed like a perfect place to see spotted eagle rays, and we did see one. There were quite a few nice soft corals there as well, and the bay is relatively protected, making it fairly calm.

We cannot display this gallery

Our last stop was at Le Galion, which is extremely shallow and calm. We swam out around the north corner of Baie de l’Embouchure and encountered a shallow area filled with sea urchins. In some slightly deeper areas there were a handful of living corals, and on our way back we found a couple spotted eagle rays feeding in the sea grass.

We cannot display this gallery


December 30th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Team members Chris and Theresa had tipped us off about this snorkeling spot during the summer, but this was the first time we checked it out ourselves, and it was quite fantastic. From the northernmost end of Orient Bay, we swam around the rocky outcrop. The first area was okay, but after passing a small sandy area we came to a much better area with soft coral-encrusted rocks and loads of fish. There were colorful encrusting hard corals and large areas of what seem to be mat zoanthids. As in many relatively shallow areas, the remains of large elkhorn corals were common. It was the first really great locale we visited on this expedition.

We cannot display this gallery


December 30th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

On Christmas Eve, we tried snorkeling at the southern end of Orient Bay near Club O. Off the beach, the sea floor is mostly a mix of sand and sea grass patches. Near the point, there are rocks and coral skeletons as well as coral debris that has washed up and accumulated there. It wasn’t outstanding, but there were a variety of fish and a few living soft corals.

We cannot display this gallery

From there, we decided to check out the mangroves and shallow waters in the southern part of Baie de l’Embouchure. The visibility amongst the mangroves was mediocre, but we did have a nice time in the Bay. One highlight was the groups of urchins that gave cover to juvenile fish. It’s definitely a key nursery area for juvenile fish as well as young spiny lobsters.

We cannot display this gallery


December 30th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Our next stop was the Little Bay side of Fort Amsterdam. A swim from the beach at the Divi Little Bay resort brought us to a platform and a few boats where there is a sea trek underwater walkway and a sunken submarine that is probably at least 40 feet long. Unfortunately, a large swell made visibility poor, but we did hear that they planned to sink a small helicopter there in the coming weeks. A highlight was a rock formation where brown boobies were resting. We have to return when the viz is better.

We cannot display this gallery


December 30th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

We are currently on an extended snorkeling research mission to document as many snorkeling locations on St. Martin as possible. On our first day, we started with the west side of Mullet Bay, which was not too good, just a few rocks with some algae and a smattering of tropical fishes. We did see a lionfish there, though:

We cannot display this gallery

Our next stop was Le Trou de David, but the swell was too big there to enter safely. Instead, we tried the pool between La Belle Creole and Pointe de Bluff. The pool is quite large and varies in depth from a few inches to a few feet. Inside the pool it was calm, with a mix of seagrass, sandy bottom and stones. Wildlife included sea cucumbers, juvenile fishes, stingrays and barracuda.

We cannot display this gallery


December 14th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Once again, here are some of Saint Martin’s tiniest residents from the Grand Case area. Of particular interest to me was the awesome spider in the first two photos. It also seems to be a good time of year for many true bugs (order Hemiptera). I feel like I see species I have not seen before almost every day.

We cannot display this gallery


December 13th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Continuing my research on the new hairstreak, I recently took a quick jaunt, looping from Grand Case to Hope Estate and back via the airport road. Although the habitat on this trip was limited primarily to patches of grassland between developed areas, there was a large variety of invertebrate life on display, including several insect species I had not yet seen before.

We cannot display this gallery


December 13th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

The Porpoise is a shipwreck on the Dutch side of the island. It’s an artificial wreck that was sunk for diving and it sits on a sandy bottom at about 90 feet deep. There are often large southern stingrays there, although on this dive we only saw a few small ones. It used to sit upright, but after hurricane Omar it has been leaning to the side. As you can hopefully see, it’s one of the prettiest wrecks on Saint Martin.

We cannot display this gallery


December 12th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

After a lovely evening at Calmos celebrating my birthday, I managed to get up well before dawn to go meet up with the SXM Trails hiking club for a trek around my favorite local spot, Bell Point. The hike was lovely, of course, and there were a couple stretches through areas I had never walked through. It’s also the first time I’ve been serenaded with the happy birthday song on a hike! Next Sunday we are headed to La Belle Creole.

We cannot display this gallery