March 30th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Come to the Love the Lagoon fundraising event Saturday, April 2nd starting at 7pm. The event is at the Sand Bar at Isle de Sol in Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten. Proceeds from the event will go towards buying a sewage pumpout boat that will take sewage from boats on both sides of the lagoon for treatment, rather than it going straight into the lagoon.

There will be music from Simple Stand, exhibits about the lagoon, raffle and much more. There’s additional info on Facebook and the EPIC website. If you can’t make it, find out how to donate on the EPIC site.



March 26th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Gary Brown interviews Mark for YachtBlast on Sunday 11am (rebroadcast Monday 7pm) about the wildlife guide and Les Fruits de Mer’s recent mangrove sea life survey.


Island 92 – Rock Radio St. Maarten
island92.com
ISLAND 92 ROCK & BLUES RADIO 2nd Floor Federal Express Building Simpson Bay, St. MaartenLocal Phone – 599-544-3377 US Phone – 786-693-9200Email – info@island92.com



March 24th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

On Sunday, Les Fruits de Mer made what I believe is our first official scientific expedition, to conduct a survey of fish, invertebrates and vegetation in the mangroves of Grand Ilet in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The mangroves we surveyed were actually planted by EPIC (Environmental Protection in the Caribbean) and volunteers several years ago. Today, they are growing well and we did the survey on behalf of EPIC to begin measuring the impact of the mangroves on the local wildlife.

Aboard kayaks generously loaned by Tri-Sport, we headed out to the islet, a trip that was both fun and definitely very good exercise for infrequent kayakers. Once at the site, we stopped briefly at the beach between our two primary survey areas. A knife fight amongst the drunken, pirate-like folks hanging out on the beach convinced us to proceed immediately to our first survey transects.

After using line to demarcate our transects, we attempted the first fish survey on snorkel. The maximum depth in the transect area was approximately ten centimeters, which made it very difficult, even for the world’s first Extreme Shallow Snorkeling team. The only way to see underwater was to tilt one’s head sideways so one eye would be underwater. Changing plans slightly, we did the surveying primarily on foot, while snorkeling the slightly deeper (but still quite shallow) areas around the transects.

Although there were few fish inside the transect areas due to the shallowness, there were several species in the area, including juvenile jacks, barracuda, checkered pufferfish, small bait fish and other juvenile tropical fish. The most common invertebrates were mostly echinoderms: sea cucumbers, sea stars and urchins. We did see one large shrimp, a couple blue crabs, two types of sponge and one small patch of coral as well.

Overall, the survey was quite successful and very fun. We returned safely by kayak with data in hand and the team enjoyed a lovely supper together.

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March 24th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

The latest SXM Trails hike started at Defiance and looped around the coast past Gibbs Bay and Dawn Beach before returning to the starting point. It was fun, and it was nice to have a relatively easy hike so people who might not be able to scale the taller hills or navigate difficult terrain could still participate. It was however, a little bit sad to see the amount of new and existing development in the area.

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March 24th, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

As volunteers participating in the sea turtle nesting survey for the Reserve Naturelle, we were invited to a dinner with the Reserve and the other volunteers at Enold’s in Grand Case (try the chicken colombo). Afterwards, we headed to Baie aux Prunes and Baie Longue to see if we could find any nesting leatherback turtles, since their nesting season had just begun. We were not lucky enough to see any, but it was a beautiful night on the beach and the clear visibility gave us a great view of Saba at night. I took a bunch of long-exposure photos of the survey.

If you see sea turtles nesting, don’t bug them! You can also call the Nature Foundations turtle hotline to report your sighting: 9229.

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March 22nd, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

The guide is now available at Maison de la Presse in Marigot and The Scuba Shop in Simpson Bay.


The Scuba Shop, St Maarten
The Scuba Shop is all about enjoying your diving to the max with Great Gear at Great Prices!



March 22nd, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Although it is heavily polluted, filled with algae and getting smaller every day as it is filled in, the Great Salt Pond is still a haven for many species of bird. Although I didn’t have the proper lens, I took a bunch of photos of birds there recently, including some great egrets and white-cheeked pintail ducks. I also had a chance to watch a snowy egret hunting at the edge of nearby Fresh Pond. The most interesting sighting was a huge gull, which I think may have been a first-year great back-blacked gull, which seemed to have a damaged wing. This species is apparently only a vagrant in this area.

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March 22nd, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Okay, to be fair, we spent more time enjoying the beach on Pinel than we did snorkeling, but it was perhaps our largest E.S.S. mission to date with over 15 Fruits in attendance. Although it was a bit windy, our snorkeling expedition on the back side of Pinel was quite a success. In addition to the gorgeous elkhorn corals, we found an octopus eating a crab while hiding in an empty conch shell and a four-foot nurse shark.

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March 22nd, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

Two Sundays ago the SXM Trails hiking club did a wonderful hike through the central mountains. Starting in Colombier we ascended the (as far as I can tell) unnamed peak just to the south of Pic Paradis before crossing over to Pic Paradis and descending through Loterie Farm by the old sugar mill. The western slope of the central mountains is the lushest forest on the island, presumably because it is shielded from the prevailing easterly winds that dry out the other side.

Near the top, before we crossed to Pic Paradis there is a farm, which was interesting, with banana trees and cacao, but also disturbing because it made a huge opening in otherwise contiguous forest. On our way down Pic Paradis we passed the ruins of the Loterie sugar mill, and near the bottom some hikers rested their tired feet in a pool of water and had them cleaned by guppies. I was also lucky enough to spot one of my favorite local insects, a large katydid that tends to hide in holes in trees.

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March 22nd, 2011 by Marc AuMarc

The common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is a bird in the rail family that is easily seen on the island. Pairs are often nesting in the Grand Case salt pond, and of all the birds on the salt pond they seem the least disturbed by humans. While the chicks are black with a big bald patch on the top of their head, the fledgelings are brown, but otherwise mostly resemble their parents. (One iguana made it into the photos, as they usually do.)

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