Dutch Caribbean

ASSESSING WATER QUALITY AND THE BENTHIC SPECIES COMMUNITIES AROUND THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN ISLAND SINT EUSTATIUS.

Summary
The health of coral reefs is threatened by anthropogenic land-based input, which is a global problem. High nutrient conditions make corals less resilient to environmental stresses like climate change and intense weather. Poor water quality is likely for the island of St. Eustatius due to the lack of sewage treatment and its erodible coastline. However, there are no data on this island’s long-term water quality monitoring. Chlorophyll-a concentrations, used to indicate water quality, were monitored at 13 locations around St. Eustatius twice a month from May to November 2022 (n=13). Additionally, images of the ocean floor at 10m were made using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to monitor benthic species communities and their habitat. The main conclusion of this research shows that the reefs are primarily in an algal-dominant state. This may be explained by the frequent, chronic exceedances of the 0.2 g/l chlorophyll-a threshold. Chlorophyll -a thresholds were surpassed more frequently and with higher amounts on the sites with a larger anthropogenic influence. The lower threshold for chlorophyll-a was surpassed at 5 out of the 11 sites by more than 30% of the measurements. This would point to a more pervasive low-level eutrophic condition at all sites. On many of the sand-based substrate areas, seagrass has covered it.

 

For full report or more information,  please contact erik.meesters@wur.nl or gulsah.dogruer@wur.nl

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
Wageningen University & Research Aquaculture & Fisheries Group (AFI)
Geographic location
St. Eustatius
Author

Monitoring water quality parameters of the coastal waters of Saba and the possible effects on the coral reef

Abstract
Coral reef systems have been declining all over the world. The project “Restoration of resilience of nature and society in the Caribbean Netherlands” focuses on mitigating further decline by improving the resilience of the coral reef. This is done, among other things, through water quality monitoring. In this report, we focussed on the quality of the coastal waters of Saba.

The spatial and temporal variation of chlorophyll a, salinity and temperature was assessed and connected to possible land-based activities and anthropogenic stressors.

The local stressors were assessed through informal interviews. The water quality indicators were measured with sensitive sensor technology. This was done by boat, every two weeks, on 13 locations around Saba, at a depth of 1.5-10 meters.

Both a temporal and spatial variation in chlorophyll a, temperature and salinity have been found. The chlorophyll a values seem concerting when looking at the coral reef threshold. Temperature and salinity are not yet troubling within he period of this research. However, if their temporal trend persists, there would be cause for concern. A baseline for potential local stressors has been identified but more extensive research is needed. Prolonged monitoring of the water quality indicators and more research into local stressors and how these affect one another is needed to fully understand what is going on.
 

For full report or more information,  please contact erik.meesters@wur.nl or gulsah.dogruer@wur.nl

Date
2022
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
Department of Animal Sciences Aquaculture and Fisheries Group
Geographic location
Saba

Occurrence of Vibrio Species in Marine Sources Surroundings Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

ABSTRACT There is a lack of information on presence of vibrios in the marine environment in the Caribbean. The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of Vibrios in the coastal waters of Bonaire. Fifty samples of marine water collected at different depths from various sources around Bonaire were examined for the presence of vibrios. Species identification was confirmed by KB007 HiVibrioTM, Identification Kit and TOFEL-MALDI. Forty of the samples contained Vibrio alginolyticus, 33 yielded V. parahaemolyticus and 29 showed presence of V. vulnificus / V. cholerae. Regarding total colony counts in the sample, 47.4% of the colonies were V. alginolyticus, 35.2% were V. parahaemolyticus, and 17.4% represented V. vulnificus /V. cholerae. Further, of the 25 surface samples from various sites, 14 had a colony count percentage of 50% or greater number of V. alginolyticus. Another 10 sites had a colony count percentage of 50% or greater for V. parahaemolyticus; three of them had a colony count percentage of 50% or greater for V. vulnificus / V. cholerae. The present study constitutes the first study of its kind providing evidence of the prevalence of pathogenic Vibrio species, viz. V. alginolyticus, V. parahaemolyticus, and V. vulnificus / V. cholerae in marine water from the Dutch Caribbean.

Date
2022
Data type
Scientific article
Geographic location
Bonaire

Status of the Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) on and around the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire

Abstract

Red-billed Tropicbirds have historically been considered rare visitors to the waters around the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire in the southern Caribbean. However, in recent years there has been an increase in documented records. We summarize all known Red-billed Tropicbird records for the region and review broader regional population and movement data to place this increase in records in context. We recommend continued careful documentation of Red-billed Tropicbird records on and around the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire and the implementation of a standardized monitoring pro-gram across the Caribbean range for the species to better understand the species' population status, trends, and breeding and at-sea distribution

Date
2022
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao

Dutch cinema hit “The New Wilderness” gets a Caribbean sequel with WOW!

The unique natural world of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom plays the leading role in a special cinema film entitled WOW!. This was announced during the SMILE event at the University of Sint Maarten at a press conference by 360º of Innovation from Aruba and M&N Media Group from the Netherlands. The production of the film about Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten has begun and the film will launch in cinemas in 2025 both in the Netherlands and on the islands.

from left to right you see Wyb Meijer from SHTA, Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern from the Nature Foundation Sint Maarten, Ignas van Schaick from EMS films from the Netherlands, Bianca Peters from 360º of Innovation of Aruba, Elton Arends of 360º of Innovation of Aruba and Tadzio Bervoets of DCNA

Bianca Peters, co-founder and director of 360º of Innovation, is delighted: “For us, WOW! Is a dream come true. The film will not only portray the beauty, diversity and resilience of nature on the islands in a special way but also the vulnerability and importance of a healthy balance between people and nature. Audiences on both sides of the Atlantic are sure to be amazed and filled with pride. Viewers will not have realized before how special nature is in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.”

In close collaboration with the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), the WOW! production team has started visiting possible film locations. Discussions are also currently taking place with stakeholders to gain a good insight into all the ins and outs of the local nature and the stories and developments on the islands.

“Unfortunately, the islands are often negatively in the news in the Netherlands. With this film, we want to build a bridge based on the connecting power of nature to help improve cooperation between the Netherlands and the islands. Diversity and inclusivity in the film and the production team is an important starting point. After all, we are one Kingdom!”, says Peters.

In addition to the film, the makers are also working on a television series that sheds light on the individual islands from the perspective of the relationship between people and nature. What challenges will there be for the inhabitants of the islands in the coming years in their route to a sustainable relationship with nature? But also which solutions have already been created. Various educational and musical programs are also being developed in which local talents are involved.

“I am extremely proud that we as a distributor are so closely involved in the realization of this special film project. It is obvious that we will use music from the islands as a soundtrack for this,” says Jeffrey de Graaff, co-owner of M&N Media Group.

“It is a great honor to be able to make this film about the six Caribbean islands of the Kingdom. We have already made many worldwide successful films about Dutch nature, such as De Nieuwe Wildernis and De Wilde Stad, but this is the first time that we will be filming on this side of the ocean. Collaboration with local parties is extremely important in this regard. We look forward to visiting all six islands in the upcoming period and exploring what we want to film together with a team of talented makers from diverse backgrounds,” said Ignas van Schaick, EMS FILMS.

The production team of WOW! consists of 360º of Innovation, EMS FILMS and associate producer AM Pictures. M&N Media Group is responsible for worldwide distribution.

The film will be shot over the next two years and is expected to be shown in cinemas in the Netherlands and on the islands in 2025. To learn more about WOW! Visit www.wowthenaturefilm.com or visit the Facebook page @wowthenaturefilm.

 

Published in BioNews 52

Date
2022
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Author

Conservation opportunities for tern species at two Ramsar sites on Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

Abstract

The island of Bonaire is a nesting location for at least four tern species: a subspecies of the Least Tern (Sternula antillarum
antillarum), the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), the Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus), and a subspecies of the Sandwich
Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis eurygnathus). The island is also a significant nesting site for the Caribbean Least Tern (Sternula
antillarum) population. Our main objectives were to: a) measure and compare breeding success at five known nesting sites on
northern Bonaire, b) document and compare the impact of natural and introduced predators on each site, and c) give management
recommendations for increasing breeding success based on our results. Our nest counts from 2014 indicate a significant
decline in nest abundance compared to historical observations from the 1950s, matching previous studies and observations
from the last two decades. Among the five nesting sites in our study, terns at the two island sites had the largest number of
breeding pairs and achieved the greatest success, fledging a maximum of ~0.8 chicks per nest, compared to all other sites which
were connected to the shoreline. We recorded rats and cats as predators at the peninsula site and field observations suggested
that predation by Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla) might also be occurring at two sites. Both natural and artificial islands
on hypersaline lagoons provide good nesting sites for terns on Bonaire as they are protected from mammalian predators. However,
recreational disturbance remains the single most serious and pervasive threat to the future of seabird nesting on Bonaire
and requires concerted action. We propose a list of management actions to increase the numbers of nesting terns throughout
the sites studied. Increasing protection from predators and human disturbance by making artificial nesting islands will provide
the potential for Bonaire, and its sister islands, to become major refuges for southern Caribbean metapopulations of these four
tern species.

Date
2022
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire

Shark abundance on the deep island slopes of the Dutch Caribbean ABC - islands: A potential conservation and research opportunity

Large marine apex predators have become exceedlingly rare in shallow neritic waters around most Caribbean islands, including the ABC-island (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) of the Leeward Dutch Caribbean. This is especially the case for several species of sharks. In May 2000, 24 2-hr long deepwater submersible dives were conducted off the isaldns of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, at depths ranging between 80-900m.  Eight shark sightings were recorded, amounting to 6 different species, among which the endnagered Hexanchus griseus. These observations suggest a surprising diversity and density of deepwater sharks aroudn the steep island slopes of leeward Dutch islands.

Date
2014
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao

A historical review of records of the West Indian manatee and the American crocodile in the Dutch Antilles

We discuss the significance of two manatee records for the Dutch Windward Islands (Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten) as well as six manatid and one crocodile record for the Dutch Leeward Islands (Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire). The persistence of the manatee in the Lesser Antilles until the early 17th century suggests that in pre-Columbian times manatees would have also occurred regularly in the Dutch Windward Islands. In pre-Columbian times, suitable habitat for the American crocodile was sufficient in the Dutch Leeward Islands to have supported small resident populations, and habitat for the manatee was possibly also present. Both species have been widely hunted by early humans and we surmise that small, isolated populations of these species could easily have been extirpated in the Dutch Leeward Islands well prior to European colonization. However, two manatee sightings with the last five years, suggest that these islands may somehow still form part of the active range of this rare and elusive species.

Date
2006
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten

Sustainable Funding for Nature Parks in the Netherlands Antilles. Feasibility Study of a Protected Areas Trust Fund

In 1998 the Dutch Parliament called for a feasibility study for a trust fund and the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations agreed, under certain conditions, to make a financial contribution to
such a fund. In 2003 the Antillean Environmental Department invited tenders for this study, which began in 2004 with funding from the Dutch Ministry of the Interior. Besides assessing the feasibility of a trust fund to cover the operational costs of one terrestrial and one marine park per island, the study also included a broader analysis of how park funding can be made more sustainable. The consultants also advised on the technical and organisational aspects of the management and administration of a trust fund and presented a fundraising and communication strategy to support the process.

Summary of the findings
Sustainable funding: feasibility and constraints

  1. The non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that manage the nature parks on the Netherlands Antilles need at least €2.25 million each year to cover the costs of adequately managing at least one terrestrial park and one marine park per island. 
  2. External funding sources are therefore necessary to achieve a sustainable financial situation. 
  3. Certain developments in 2004 and early 2005 have considerably increased the chances of creating a sustainable funding strategy involving these four tracks:
  4. In future years the National Postcode Lottery (NPL) will play a key role in providing longer-term funding to cover the running costs of the parks (track 1). 
  5. An essential element in the strategy for achieving sustainable funding for conservation management is the establishment of a Trust Fund (track 2).
  6. The Antillean governments should take their own share of the responsibility by ensuring the required legislative framework is in place and making a long-term financial commitment. 
  7. The main capital donors to the most successful trust funds elsewhere in the world are bilateral and multilateral agencies (such as GEF and the World Bank) as well as international nature conservation organisations such as WWF and Conservation International. It is therefore highly important to obtain contributions from one or more of these parties in addition to the anticipated contribution from the National Postcode Lottery.
  8. The private sector (business community, individuals and investment funds) is a potentially good source of funds in various tracks, particularly in the form of earmarked or non-earmarked donations, sponsorships and contributions to a Trust Fund (tracks 2 and 3).
  9. Assuming a combined income of €1.17 million, an annual grant from NPL of €0.45 million and a return on investment of 6%, the Trust Fund would require a capital of €18.9 million to guarantee basic levels of park management on the islands.
  10. The study provides a detailed design of the institutional set-up and a legal and financial framework for the Trust Fund. Instead of being a separate legal entity, the proposed Trust Fund will be established within the structure of the DCNA, since the advantages of this option outweigh the disadvantages.
Date
2005
Data type
Research report
Theme
Governance
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Author