St Eustatius National Marine Park

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Chapter 3. SITE DESCRIPTION

Flora

Brief description of the main plant assemblages significant or particular in the area:


The seagrass beds around St Eustatius are dominated by the invasive (Halophila stipulacea) and native (Halophila decipiens) together with small amounts of Manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) and banks of calcareous algae (Halimeda sp).

A number of different plant species live on the reef and sandy habitats, the most common being Encrusting fan-leaf algae (Lobophora variegata), and Dictyota sp. Mats of Red Algae grow in some areas. Seaweeds such as Sargassum and Green Feather Algae (Caulerpa sertulanoides) provide habitat and food for other animals.

List of plant species within the site that are in SPAW Annex I

List of species in SPAW annex I Estimate of population size Comments if any

List of plant species within the site that are in SPAW Annex III

List of species in SPAW annex III Estimate of population size Comments if any
Hydrocharitaceae: Thalassia testudinum not given only scattered remnants are reportedly left of this once dominant sea grass species
Hydrocharitaceae: Halophila decipiens not given in seagrass beds
Cymodoceaceae: Syringodium filiforme not given scattered areas throughout the Marine Park

List of plant species within the site that are in the IUCN Red List. UICN red list : http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/search You will specify the IUCN Status (CR:critically endangered; EN:endangered; VU:vulnerable).

List of species in IUCN red list that are present in your site IUCN Status Estimate of population size Comments if any

List of plant species within the site that are in the national list of protected species

List of species in the national list of protected species that are present in your site Estimate of population size Comments if any

Fauna

Brief descript° of the main fauna populations and/or those of particular importance present (resident or migratory) in the area:


All four Caribbean species of turtle can be found in Statia’s open water: confirmed sightings of Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricate), Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea), and an unconfirmed sighting of Loggerhead (Caretta caretta). A number of Cetaceans are regular visitors both to the reefs and the waters around St Eustatius, including; Baleen Whale Species (Balaenoptera sp.), Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), Dwarf Sperm Whales (Kogia simus), Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), Gervais's Beaked Whales (Mesoplodon europaeus), Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), Melon-Headed Whales (Peponocephala electra), Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus), Pantropical Spotted Dolphins (Stenella attenuate), Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris), Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncates), Cuvier's Beaked Whales (Ziphius cavirostris). Manta Rays (Manta birostris) and Eagle Rays (Aetobatus narinari) also visit the Marine Park from Deeper waters.

 

There are a number of birds that live almost exclusively in the open ocean environment, using St Eustatius as a breeding ground or migratory stop over. These include Frigate Birds (Fregata magnificens), Red Billed Tropicbirds (Phaethon aethereus), Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) and Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri)

The populaton of Redbilled tropicbirds is estimated at 800 individuals with between 300 and 500 nesting pairs. Together with Saba the two islands account for more than half of the Caribbean population of redbilled tropicbirds.

Significant invertebrates in the seagrasses of St. Eustatius include Queen Conch (Strombus gigas), Cushion Stars (Oreaster reticulata), Sea Cucumber (Holothuria mexicana), Sea Urchins (Tripneustes venricosus, Lytechinus variegates, Meoma ventricosa).

The waters surrounding St. Eustatius are teeming with life. The coral reefs are home to many fish species including Fairy baslets (Gramma loreto), Angel fish (Holocanthus sp. and many others) Groupers, Triggerfish, Scorpion fish, Moray eels (e.g. Gymnothorax moringa), Wrasse and Chromis, Parrot fish and roaming shoals of Blue Tangs (Acanthurus coeruleus). In sandy areas Garden eels (Heteroconger halis), Peacock Flounder (Bothus lunatus), Stingrays (Dasyatis Americana) and  Flying Gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans) can all be seen. Near to the reefs in the blue water, Crevalle Jacks (Caranx hippos), Bar jacks (Caranx rubber), Shoals of Barracuda (Sphyraena sp.) shoals of up to 200 Horse-eye jacks (Caranx latus) and Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) meander looking to feed off the smaller reef fish.

 

In deeper areas, the coral communities are dominated by plate corals (Agaricia sp.), soft corals such as seafans and Wire Corals (Ellisella sp.). The main hard corals on shallower reefs include Mustard Hill Coral (Porites astreoides), Brain coral (Diploria sp.), various forms of Star coral (Montastrea sp.), Flower Coral (Eusmilia fastiagata), Maze Coral (Meandrina meandrites), Pillar Coral(Dendrogyra cylindrica) and the blade form of Fire Coral (Millepora complanata). Other coral species often found include Seafans, Seaplumes, gorgonians and Black coral (Antipathes sp.) at depths in excess of 20m, particularly at the drop off.

 

Aside from corals and fish, many other creatures inhabit the reef and other underwater habitats. These include a variety of sponges such as Giant Barrel Sponges (Xestospongia muta), Stove-pipe sponges (Aplysina archeri), Azure Vase Sponges (Callyspongia plicifera), Ball Sponges (Cinachyra sp.) and Elephant Ear Sponges (Agelas clathrodes). Countless other invertebrates inhabits the reefs such as Conch, Brittle stars, Magnificent Sea Urchin (Astropyga magnifica), Zooanthids, Crinoids,  Brittle stars, Cork Screw Anemones (Bartholomea annulata), Giant anemones (Condylactis gigantea), Spiny Lobsters (Panulirus argus), Pederson shrimp, Arrow Crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis), Decorator Crabs (Microphrys bicomuta) and nudibranchs such as the Lettuce Sea Slug (Tridachia crispate).

Caribbean Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus perezi) and Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum). Seahorses (Hippocampus sp.) can also be seen clinging to gorgonians with their tails.

List of animal species within the site that are in SPAW Annex II

List of species in SPAW annex II Estimate of population size Comments if any
Reptiles: Caretta caretta Number of individuals: 5.5 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given rare, unconfirmed sightings
Reptiles: Chelonia mydas Number of individuals: 150 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given quite common year round, nest on beaches
Reptiles: Eretmochelys imbricata Number of individuals: 175 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given quite common year round, nest on beaches
Reptiles: Dermochelys coriacea Number of individuals: 8 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given seasonal, nest on beaches
Birds: Puffinus lherminieri not given numbers unknown
Mammals: Megaptera novaeangliae not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Physeter macrocephalus not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Kogia simus not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Ziphius cavirostris not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Mesoplodon europeaus not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Orcinus orca not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Globicephala macrorhynchus not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Peponocephala electra not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Stenella attenuata not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Stenella longirostris not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Tursiops truncatus not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park
Mammals: Stenella coeruleoalba not given unknown numbers, migrate through the marine park

List of animal species within the site that are in SPAW Annex III

List of species in SPAW annex III Estimate of population size Comments if any
Hydrozoa: Milleporidae not given Present, but population size not mentioned in habitat mapping completed in 2013
Hydrozoa: Stylasteridae not given Present, but population size not mentioned in habitat mapping completed in 2013
Anthozoa : Antipatharia not given Present, but population size not mentioned in habitat mapping completed in 2013
Anthozoa : Gorgonacea Area covered: 6 ha Habitat mapping completed in 2013
Anthozoa : Scleractinia Area covered: 1 ha Habitat mapping completed in 2013
Molluscs: Strombus gigas Number of individuals: 290000 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given baseline data early2013
Crustaceans: Panulirus argus not given annual catch reported to fisheries is 4000 - 5000

List of animal species within the site that are in the IUCN Red List. IUCN Red List : http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/search You will specify the IUCN Status (CR:critically endangered; EN:endangered; VU:vulnerable).

List of species in IUCN red list that are present in your site IUCN Status Estimate of population size Comments if any
Acropora: palmata CR - Critically endangered not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Acropora: cervicornis CR - Critically endangered not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Agaricia: lamarcki VU - Vulnerable not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Agaricia: tenuifolia Unknown not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Dendrogyra: cylindrus VU - Vulnerable not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Dichocoenia: stokesii VU - Vulnerable not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Montastrea: franksii VU - Vulnerable not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Montastrea: annularis EN - Endangered not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Montastrea: faveolata EN - Endangered not given percent cover estimated at .38% during habitat survey completed in 2013
Millepora: striata VU - Vulnerable not given Present, but population estimates were not given in the habitat survey completed 2013
Panulirus: argus Unknown not given annual take reported to fisheries is 4000 to 5000
Epinephelus: flavolimbatus VU - Vulnerable not given rare to uncommon
Epinephelus: striatus EN - Endangered not given rare
Balistes: vetula VU - Vulnerable not given uncommon
Lachnolaimus: maximus VU - Vulnerable not given rare to uncommon
Lutjanus: analis VU - Vulnerable not given uncommon - common
Lutjanus: cyanopterus VU - Vulnerable not given common
Thunnus: obesus VU - Vulnerable not given uncommon to common
Megaptera: novaeangliae VU - Vulnerable not given migratory
Physeter: macrocephalus VU - Vulnerable not given migratory
Dermochelys : coriacea VU - Vulnerable Number of individuals: 8 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given Nest on Zeelandia Beach
Chelonia: mydas EN - Endangered Number of individuals: 150 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given common year round, nest on beaches
Eretmochelys: imbricata CR - Critically endangered Number of individuals: 175 - Unit used (individuals, spots, etc): not given common year round, nest on beaches

List of animal species within the site that are in the national list of protected species

List of species in the national list of protected species that are present in your site Estimate of population size Comments if any