P Newsletter 3/2009
destroying the Nature of Statia
Tire tracks from a joy riding
truck onZeelandia Beach. The
tracks came as close as I meter
to a Leatherback turtle nest.
Residents of St. Eustatius have
been aware foryears, in fact
since 2001, that the taking of
sand from Zeelandia beach
and driving on the beach is
against the law.
SIn spite of this awareness, al-
Smost every week there is evi-
Sdence of sand mining or tire
tracks visible on the beach.
These persons are very much
aware that their activities are
illegal since they are seemingly
only carried out in the wee
hours of the morning and very
rarely in broad daylight.
Having sea turtles nest on our
local beaches is a very rare
thing as they are most of them
critically endangered. It is the
task of the National Parks
Foundation to conserve the
nature we have here on Statia.
This is done through ongoing
education programs and
through the media. It is very
crucial that residents under-
stand what treasures we have
here and that they all need to
Recently another incident has
come to light where certain
drivers on the way to work at
Nustar Energy deliberately try
to run over iguanas that are
crossing the road. In one week
four larger iguanas have been
run over. Accidents always
happen, but when eyewit-
nesses report that it was done
intentionally then there seems
to be a need for stricter en-
forcement of the rules that
govern the protection of the
flora and fauna on the island.
STENAPA would like to remind
the general public that Annex
II of the Cites convention
which Holland and by proxy
the Antilles, are signatories to,
lists the iguana as a protected
species. Punishment for the
intentional violation of this
convention is imprisonment of
up to years or a fine of up to
FIs 1.000.000,- or both.
The National Parks foundation
would like to beseech local
residents to respect all nature
that we have here on the is-
land. It is in many ways unique
and therefore protected.
Parents and Guardians are
reminded that a new Snorkel
Club session started on Tues-
day, September 8th. Forms
were handed out at all the
local schools for parents to
sign up their children. This first
week was the swim test to see
if the children are able to swim
properly. There is still plenty of
room for any children who
want to take advantage of this
after school activity. The chil-
dren will get a workbook that
will teach them many aspects
of the marine environment.
The cost for the entire 3 month
session is FIs 50,- and can be
paid in installments. Graduates
will receive their PADI Skin
Diver certificate and can go on
to become Junior Rangers.
Snorkel Club kids enjoying a
snorkel at Gallows Bay.
Inside this Publication
Destroying Statia's Nature I
Snorkel Club has Started I
Summer Club in Pictures 2
Drilling and Bird Monitor-
ing on Saba 3
Park staff in the classroom 3
New Turtle Program In-
10 Years of the Miriam 4
Schmidt Botanical Garden
Hannah Madden Receives
Turtles: Join us March to Octo-
ber for patrols and hatchling re-
Guided Hikes: Available for
groups of 2 or more
Botanical Garden: Open from
sunrise to sunset. Great for family
picnics and BBQs
Kids' Clubs: Snorkel Club, Jun-
ior Rangers I and II and Ad-
vanced Snorkel Club.
Captain Dory Preserve: There
is now an eco-friendly camp site
on island. Call Stenapa for more
information and rates.
SNORKEL CLUB HAS STARTED
-St -sai us:Naionlan Mainears an'd Botanical-Garden
STENAPA SUMMER CLUB 2009 IN PICTURES
,1. .. '' -.A. ..
Looking for a Leatherback turtle's nest on Zeelandia Beach during
Turtle Summer Club session.
Children making and decorating watering cans out of recy-
cled hard plastic containers at the Botanical Gardens.
Standing at the beginning of the trail about to begin a guided hike to
Gilboa's Butterfly Trail.
One group planting out crotons that they grew themselves
On the Marine Park boat "Blue Runner" heading to the snorkel-
ing site at Jenkins Bay.
Enjoying the water. That day they saw jelly fish, an octopus
and several stingrays.
Drilling Workshop/Staff Exchange on Saba
conducted by Mr. Paul Ellinger who has
....... .. .. held workshops all over the region.
Saba's mooring pins are in place for
roughly 20 years now and some if not
all are in need of replacing. The work-
shop began with a presentation and
S briefing on the first morning and several
survey dives in the afternoon to scout
out the best spots to put in the new
Checking the equipment before going to the
drilling sites on both Marine Pak, boats.
In the first week of September four
STENAPA staff members and one intern
went over to Saba on the Marine Park
boat "Blue Runner" for a five day working
visit. Three Marine Park staff, Jessica
Berkel, Laszlo Charles and MP Manager
Tadzio Bervoets were there to attend a
drilling workshop while the Botanical
Garden Ranger Carlton van Putten and
the National Park intern Mark Heusser
went to assist the Saba rangers with their
bird surveys. The drilling workshop was
II it second udy LIH t yrup id idymange Lu
put in 3 of the new pins, with everyone
being delegated a task. All of the dive
shops on Saba helped out by either
filling tanks or sending along divers to
assist and learn the techniques for fu-
ture pin installations.
Unfortunately due to the Tropical storm
warning issued for TS Erika, the boats
had to be taken out of the water on
Wednesday. Stenapa staff spent all day
Wednesday assisting with that task as
well as securing the Saba Conservation
Foundation building which like ours is
located on the waterfront.
On Thursday and Friday, bird surveys
continued and the Saba rangers are now
very confident with conducting their
own surveys unaided. The "Blue Runner"
was put back in the water on Saturday,
loaded up and the group returned to
Statia just after 12pm.
The workshop and travel costs were
funded by the Dutch Caribbean Nature
Driling to put in a replacement pin fora
yacht mooring. Everyone hada specific task
National Park Staff Visits Local Schools Every Month
From the month of September, National
Park staff will be going into all four local
primary schools once a month to incor-
porate nature into schools' curriculum.
A comprehensive lesson plan has been
produced by Ms. Maaike Patrick with the
help of staff members of the National
Parks Foundation and several interns.
The lessons cover a range of topics such
as butterflies, medicinal plants, sharks,
trees, turtles and coral reefs to name just
a few. Some lessons include a presenta-
tion or DvD and most lessons come with
an activity sheet for the children. There
are also several field trips scheduled for
the children so that they can go out and
actually see firsthand what they learned
about in the classroom setting.
Because October 4th is World Animal
Day, the September lessons focused
mainly on pets and how to properly feed
and care for them. Lessons given in Octo-
ber will start with a short review of this
month's lessons to see if the children
remember what they learned about pet
care and World Animal Day.
Staff will be visiting the schools in groups
of two and taking turns to lead the les-
sons. The class teacher will be on hand to
assist with the children while they are
doing their activity. STENAPA is very
happy to have the cooperation of the
teachers and principals with this program
of nature education. And thanks to
Stichting Doen and DCNA for funding its
It is illegal to anchor, fish,
set traps or spear fish
in the Reserves.
Nothing at all may be re-
moved from the Reserves.
The Sea Turtle conservation program is
happy to welcome Ms. Elizabeth Sheets
of Alabama as the new Turtle program
intern after the sudden departure of Mr.
Micah Herriot of Canada.
Although Beth had to come to the island
on very short notice, she has fit in well
with the program and is already working
independently as the lead on night pa-
Beth is also a
scuba diver and
helps out with
dives that need
to be con-
ducted in the
Elizabeth Sheets, Turtle Program intern.
Sea Turtle Program Update
St Eustatius: National and Marine
Parks and Botanical Gardens
. . . . . .
STENAPA is an environmental not-for-profit foundation on St Eustatius
and was established in 1988. The objectives of STENAPA are to upkeep
the natural environment, to preserve and protect endangered or endemic
species (flora and fauna) and to educate the community about the impor-
tance of the protection of the natural environment.
Areas of responsibility include management of the marine park, the na-
tional parks and the Miriam C Schmidt Botanical Gardens. STENAPA is
S legally delegated by the Island Council to manage these protected areas.
National Parks Office
St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles
Next edition of STENAPA Update available soon with articles on:
* A review of the year 2009
* 10 year anniversary celebrations at the Botanical Garden
* What are our invasive species-and what to look out for
* Junior Rangers in action
* Overview from our annual Reef Check
10 YOWS ofr tA0 5otafticaO 4jwdof
needs to be maintained. This is done with
the help of local and international volun-
teers, and interns from abroad.
Many residents have never visited the
Garden. This will be a great opportunity
to come and look around. A schedule of
activities for all ages will be posted nearer
to the event..
BougainviIlea plants blooming in Phase/.
Very soon preparations will begin for the
celebration of the Oth anniversary of the
Miriam Schmidt Botanical Garden.
Development began in the garden in
1998 with the first of five phases which is
simply called Phase I. Phase I is the pe-
rimeter fence, a greenhouse, a pavilion
with picnic tables, a main building with
toilet facilities, a tool shed, the entrance
road, car park and, most importantly a
Sensory Garden, Palm Garden and Look
out Garden. Phase I is complete and only
National Park Ranger
Park Ranger Hannah Madden attended
and successfully completed a course in
landscaping this month.
The course, "Landscaping Lawn Beautifi-
cation" was held by the Tourism Devel-
opment Foundation and led by Dr. Kim-
berly Moore of the University of Florida.
Lectures were on insects and diseases,
weed control, pruning, nutrition and
fertilization, water management and
much more. There was also hands on
work, with participants landscaping
around the monument in front of the
library, planting aloes by the Museum
and placing of a stone pathway.
WI- J v _41 '
Park Ranger Hannah Madden shown with
landscaping course certificate and instructor
STENAPA Extra Focus on Statia Species
Why do we see Crabs in the
There are two types of crab that live in
the Quill: hermit crabs and the large land
crabs. Both are primarily nocturnal; how-
ever a hike up the Quill will often bring
you in close contact with hermit aka sol-
dier crabs (Coenobita cypeatus).
Caribbean hermit crabs are omnivorous
scavengers that live in colonies of 100 or
more. Although born in the sea, these
crabs have adapted to live on land and
will die if they spend too long in water. In
order to breathe, they have modified gills
rather than lungs. The high relative hu-
midity of their native environments al-
lows their gills to remain wet and thus to
extract oxygen from the air. After heavy
rains you will notice large congregations
of crabs. These creatures are busy collect-
ing drops of rainwater which they store
inside their shells. This store of water can
be used in times of drought and is an
effective way of preventing dehydration.
(Whelks-a favourite shell of hermit crab)
When they sense hikers approaching,
hermit crabs retract into their shell and
usually roll directly onto the trail in front
of you. You will notice that their shells are
not all the same. This is because hermit
crabs are not born with a shell. However,
due to having a soft rear abdomen, they
must find a hard shell for protection. Of-
ten they use the empty shells of whelks
or other sea snails, however in times of
desperation hermit crabs have been seen
using garbage such as bottle necks or
plastic containers. As the crab moults and
grows, it becomes too big for its shell and
must find a larger one to accommodate
its body. Fierce fights can break out be-
tween hermit crabs over shells, often
leading to the death of a crab that does
not want to give up its shell and is ripped
in half by the attacker.
Hermit crabs have ten legs including two
claws. The large purple claw on the out-
side is the hermit crab's main form of self
defence. Should you decide to putyour
flesh between its claw, it will squeeze
tightly and hold on for some time. It has
a second, smaller claw which it uses for
eating. Hermit crabs reproduce around
August every year. The females travel to
the ocean where they release fertilised
eggs into the sea, often known as
washing'. The crabs congregate near
certain places on the shore. When night
falls they leave their shells on the shore,
enter the water naked and spawn. This
makes them vulnerable to a variety of
predators at this time. Once they are
done 'washing' the surviving adult crabs
return to the land, find a shell from the
many recently left by their companions
and head back up the Quill. The eggs
hatch and spend time in the sea as free-
swimming plankton. The hatchlings live
in the ocean until their gills are mature
enough to be able to extract oxygen
Did you know? Hermit crabs love to
climb! Many have been sighted climbing
trees in the Quill.
Black land crabs (Gecarcinus rurico/a) are
also widely distributed across the Carib-
bean islands. Unlike hermit crabs, black
land crabs are rarely seen during the day
as the sun dehydrates them. However,
take a trip up the Quill after sunset and
you will soon come across these large
creatures. The light from a flashlight
tends to blind them and they will usually
freeze and assume a defensive posture,
raising themselves up on their legs to
Black land crabs are omnivorous scaven-
gers. Their meat is a good source of pro-
tein and for many years these creatures
were harvested by locals. While this crab
is undoubtedly a tough land-living crusta-
cean, it is not reproductively active until it
is at least 5 years old. The age of these
crabs is determined by their carapace
(shell) width. A width of 4-5 inches is
(Typical defence posture)
about 5 years old, with width increasing
about I inch peryear. With an expected
life span of about 10 years, some can
grow to an impressive size. These sizes
could potentially influence any laws to
protect the crabs, which might be
enough to protect the next generation.
The spawning season of black land crabs
occurs during the full moons from June
to December. After the mating, the adult
female lays her eggs and carries them
under her abdomen for two weeks be-
fore migrating to the ocean to release
them. The eggs hatch in the sea, where
most are preyed upon during their first
month of development. The young crabs
that survive and make it to land conceal
themselves in small chambers off the
main branch of burrows of adult crabs of
the same species. While very little is
known aboutyoung crabs, research sug-
gests that they spend the first 3 years of
their life underground, feeding upon
food collected by adults, while their gill
chambers adapt to breathing air.
Although named Black land crabs, these
creatures actually have four different
morphologies: red, purple, yellow and
green. As with all crabs, the black land
crab moults its outer shell when it be-
comes too small and uncomfortable. Dur-
ing a hike up the Quill you might come
across these shells and mistakenly think
the crab was killed by a predator, how-
ever often it is simply the discarded shell.
Besides humans, the main predators of
black land crabs in the Quill are thought
to be birds, though no specific data exists
Did you know? Black land crabs will eat
virtually anything, even cat food!
STENAPA Extra Focus on Statia Species
Are Tarantulas really that Scary?
The Quill is home to a large variety of
flora and fauna. Often, while maintaining
the hiking trails we come across many
interesting species, one of which is the
tarantula spider. Although portrayed in
movies as frightening monsters, these
nocturnal creatures are actually rather
timid and can be found hiding in their
silky burrows under rocks or in the soil.
There are around 900 species of taran-
tula in the world, and Statia is home to
the Cyrtopho/issp. It is brown in colour
and covered in short hairs. Despite its
intimidating appearance, the tarantula is
not deadly to humans and will never
attack unless provoked.
Before biting, tarantulas may signal their
intention to attack by rearing up into a
"threat posture", spreading and extend-
ing their fangs, and (in certain species)
making a loud hissing noise. Their next
step may be to slap down on the intruder
with their raised front legs. If that fails
they may turn away and flick stinging
hairs toward the pursuing predator.
Upon further provocation they may try to
leave the scene entirely, but failing this
their final response may be to turn sud-
denlv and bite.
(A juvenile tarantula sinks its fangs into a
Tarantulas generally use their venomous
fangs to capture and kill prey. The mouth
is a short straw-shaped opening that can
only suck, so anything taken into it must
be liquid. Prey with large amounts of
solid parts must be crushed and ground
up or predigested, which is done by coat-
ing the prey with digestive juices. As with
all arachnids, tarantulas must moult their
external skin periodically in order to
grow, the females continuing to moult
after reaching maturity. Tarantulas usu-
ally take between 2 to 5 years to reach
adulthood, at which point the males im-
mediately begin looking for a mate. After
mating, the male makes a hasty retreat
and the female lays between 50 and
2000 eggs in a silken egg sac. She will
aggressively guard the sac for 6 to 7
weeks until heryoung are ready to
(Tarantula spiderlings exit their egg sac)
Despite their fearsome reputation, Statia's
tarantulas are themselves the object of
predation by "tarantula hawks" (Pepsis
ruflcornis). These large wasps will track,
attack and kill large tarantulas in order to
feed their larvae. The tarantula hawk is a
striking metallic blue colour with bright
orange antennae. These insects can of-
ten be seen flying around the slopes of
the Quill so be sure to keep an eye out.
The bright colouring of these creatures is
a warning that they are dangerous. Ac-
cording to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index,
a sting from the tarantula hawk is said to
be second only in pain to the African
bullet ant. The stinger in females can
grow to a length of 7mm, making them
inedible to many predators.
(Tarantula hawk: Photo byA. Sanchez)
Tarantulas need not be afraid of the male
tarantula hawk since he does not hunt.
Instead, he feeds off the flowers of milk-
weeds and certain trees. The male has a
behavior called "hill-topping", where he
sits on top of tall plants and searches for
females that are ready to reproduce.
However, female tarantulas should be
wary of female wasps that search them
out in their burrows. Once she finds a
suitable prey, she will capture, sting, and
paralyse the spider, then either drag it
back to her own burrow or transport it to
a specially prepared nest. At this point
she lays a single egg on the victim's body
and covers the entrance. After hatching,
the wasp larva begins to suck thejuices
from the paralysed but still-living spider.
Once it grows a little, the larva plunges
into the spider's body and feeds vora-
ciously, avoiding vital organs for as long
as possible to keep it fresh. After reaching
maturity, the adult wasp emerges from
the nest and the whole cycle begins
The Schmidt Sting Pain Index:
1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost
fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single
hair on your arm.
1. Fire at: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarm-
ing. Like walking across a shag carpet &
reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn Acacia ant: A rare, piercing,
elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired
a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty,
slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your
hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost
irreverent. Imagine someone extinguish-
ing a cigar on your tongue.
2.x Honey bee and European hornet:
Like a matchhead that flips off and burns
on your skin.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelent-
ing. Somebody is using a drill to excavate
your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Dis-
tinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a
beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper
4.0 Tarantula hawk: Blinding, fierce,
shockingly electric. A running hair drier
has been dropped into your bubble bath.
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant
pain. Like fire-walking over flaming char-
coal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.
So, which wouldyouprefer?A bite from
a tarantula or a sting from a tarantula
Basic ecology, behaviour and population sur-
vey, of Gecardnus ruricolaon the island of St
Eustatius (2007), Laurence Cook., STENAPA
Population Survey of Blue Land Crab, Card-
isoma guanhumi (Rough Draft) (2006), Adia
(Tarantulas & hawks)