January 29th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Jenn, Michelle and I took a little hike on Pic Paradis which was quite enjoyable, heading up through the forest to Chewbaca Rock and then back down the edge of the forest. Going slowly, we managed to find a lot of small creatures including a gorgeous spider wasp and a coqui antillano hidden in a hollow tree branch.

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January 29th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

When looking at the satellite imagery on Google Maps, Burgeaux Bay looks great. It’s a small bay between Maho and Simpson Bay that is surrounded by rocky areas. Underwater, we found what looked like it should be a fantastic snorkeling area with a mostly rock bottom that should be perfect for coral formation. Unfortunately, it was not very lively down there, with some algae and very few corals. For now, it’s a bit of a mystery to us why it isn’t the great snorkeling location it looks like it should be.

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January 29th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Still catching up, I have a few photos to post from two recent SXM Trails hikes. The hiking association hits the trail every Sunday morning at six am to hike different areas of the island and is a lot of fun.

My first hike of the year with them (after accidentally sleeping in on January 2nd) was a hike from Grand Case to Fort Louis via Friars’ Bay. It’s a walk I’ve made myself quite a few times, but it was nice to do it with the group. As a special bonus, my sister Michelle was visiting and came along for the hike!

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The next week, we met at the food truck across from Hope Estate and went over Pea Tree Hill to Anse Marcel, then around the Pointe des Froussards, over the beach at Baie de Petites Cayes, along the coast of the wilderness area and back via Cul de Sac. On the rocky beach, I was delighted to find some isopods scampering on the coral rocks.

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January 28th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

We headed from the north end of Baie aux Prunes around Pointe Prune without high expectations. There were scattered soft corals on a rocky bottom that seemed like it could have hosted more life. Things change, however, when we reached a natural arch just out of view of the beach. After swimming through the arch we found massive schools of a couple different kinds of fish. The smaller ones seemed to be herring, perhaps redear herring (Harengula humerali) and were present in the thousands. There were also schools of what looked like bonefish (Albula vulpes), which were much larger and present in the hundreds. Smaller groups of bar jack were hunting amidst the schools and several brown pelicans were diving down from above to fish in the shallow water.

Overall it turned out to be an amazing snorkel. Further out from the point there were a decent amount of tropical fish and small corals on the underwater rock formations, but the huge schools near the point were definitely the main attraction.

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January 27th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

The small, offshore islet of Pinel is a well-known snorkeling area, but most of my favorite snorkeling spots on Pinel are outside the designated snorkel course. Earlier this month we visited three of the areas.

Since we were having lunch at Karibuni, the first one was around the coast just north of the restaurant. The sandy area around the restaurant’s pier gives way to seagrass, and then shallow rock formations covered in soft corals. Tropical fish were plentiful, and the area is relatively well-protected from waves.

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Our next stop was the beach on the north shore of the island. It’s a beautiful beach that is generally quite quiet. Offshore, there is a large lagoon area that is protected from waves by coral formations that ring the beach with a few small breaks leading out to the ocean. Inside the lagoon the water is usually relatively calm and soft corals and fish abound. There are also numerous elkhorn corals, some of which reach over six feet in diameter.

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We also took a few minutes to explore a series of shallow tide pools on the eastern side of the northern beach. Mostly less than a foot deep, they are populated primarily by juvenile fish.

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On our next visit we’ll hopefully get a chance to explore the shallow drift zone and southern beach, two other great snorkeling spots at Pinel!



January 27th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Despite less than ideal visibility, we headed to Pelican Key on January 4th with Laura to investigate the snorkeling. Even with relatively poor conditions, it was an interesting area. I found a small moray eel inside a large conch shell and an octopus. We departed from the point near the key and took a wide circle around it. Most of the undersea terrain is relatively shallow with rock formations that are host to small corals and sponges. Although it isn’t the best area we’ve seen, it’s definitely worth a visit, particularly if you’re nearby.

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January 27th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

It’s been a busy month, but I’m finally going to try to catch up with some of the very interesting things I’ve seen above and below water this month. Right now, we’ve got creatures from both sides of the island from the beginning of this month.

Our first stop is Quartier de Orleans on the eastern side of the island. I overslept and missed the start of the SXM Trails hike, but went over anyways. I wasn’t able to locate the group, but I did take a nice walk near Mont Boeuf and saw a few interesting critters including a large hemipteran with loads of babies.

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Later in the day we went to Christian’s house for some post-New Year’s relaxation and I found a few critters in his yard. Notables included a few caterpillars (one buckeye caterpillar and one I’m not familiar with), lots of gulf fritillaries, a gorgeous butterfly egg, and a variety of hemipterans. The most interesting find was some tetrio sphinx caterpillars that were on a tree beside a frangipani (their normal host plant). They were quite young and many were dead. Perhaps the mom goofed and laid them on an inedible tree by accident.

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January 12th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Now available at the zoo gift shop! There is also a copy at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.



January 10th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Copies are now available at the museum in Philipsburg and At Books End in Simpson Bay.



January 10th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Here’s the link to the radio interview on Nature Talk last Friday.


Interview on Nature Talk about the Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin by Hank Plank on
soundcloud.com
Click to listen to this sound by Hank Plank: A December interview on Jadira Veen’s radio program on Pearl FM in Philipsburg. | Shared via SoundCloud