Results of Nature Foundation Research into invasive Seagrass H. stipulacea in the Simpson Bay Lagoon
In February 2013 the St. Maarten Nature Foundation confirmed the presence of Halophila stipulacea, an invasive seagrass, in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The first unconfirmed, anecdotal report of a specimen of H. stipulacea being present in the Simpson Bay Lagoon dates back to 2010, when an EIA on the construction of the Lagoon Causeway was performed.
Extensive beds of H. stipulacea were found at three different locations: Big Key, Little Key and in the southeastern part of the Lagoon. St. Maarten is currently one of only four territories where the species has been found, thus research on controlling measures in the region are still in their infancy. A dedicated, detailed mapping project will show the real extent of distribution.
One of the areas in Simpson Bay where most specimens were found was the planned location for the causeway. The dredging of this site in the near future will result in a definite reduction of H. stipulacea. However, this is not a solution that can be implemented everywhere. Therefore an alternative remedy has to be found to ensure that the species does not gain too much foothold within the ecosystem. The possibility of seeding areas with native grasses in an attempt to control the invasion is currently being investigated.