This week, the well-known German television documentary ‘Mare TV’ (Ocean TV) film crew is on Sint Maarten to film among others ocean activities of the Nature Foundation, such as the coral restoration project, pelican monitoring and the environmental impacts of the shipwrecks in the lagoon. The German program Mare TV is portraying landscapes and people in coastal areas and islands all over the world, and this time they decided to come to St Maarten and also document the conservation activities of the Nature Foundation.
The Nature Foundation is restoring Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and Staghorn (A. cervicornis) corals by establishing coral nurseries to grow coral fragments and transplant corals at selected restoration sites. “On Tuesday we had the honor to have the film crew from the NDR German public TV Hamburg on board of our boat. We showed the film crew our coral reefs and coral restoration activities, we took a dive in the Marine Protected Area and demonstrated the work of out planting corals on the reefs and maintaining the coral fragments in the coral nursery. We also spoke about the global and local threats to our coral reefs and why coral reef protection should increase on St. Maarten. Despite the very rough seas we were able to show the film crew the beauty of our underwater world and the importance of conservation activities” stated Nature Foundation’s Manager Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
In the last couple of years, the coral reefs on Sint Maarten are deteriorating quickly due to Hurricane Irma and the outbreak of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). Coral reefs on St. Maarten were already extremely threatened due to pollution, large amounts of wastewater input into the ocean, overfishing and rising ocean temperatures. Coral reefs are the richest and most diverse ecosystems on earth; corals are reef builders and therefore extremely important. Reefs are essential for fisheries and provide a home for about a quarter of the oceans fish. Besides the massive contribution to marine biodiversity, coral reefs serve as coastline protection from storms, strong waves and erosion. Tourist all around the world travel to St. Maarten to enjoy our beautiful coral reefs while scuba diving or snorkeling, besides coral reefs are causing our waters to be clear, another large tourist attraction.
The German film crew had and exciting day with the Nature Foundation, the experienced crew are used to film in challenging ocean conditions. “For our documentary for the program ‘Mare TV’ (Ocean TV) we are telling stories related to the sea. It was very impressive to see the passionate work of the people at the Nature Foundation restoring coral reefs after Irma. They are doing an important job for the future of the island. The filming was great fun, but we were all very happy to be back on land again, as it was a really rough day at sea” explained Annette Plomin journalist of NDR, German public TV in Hamburg.
The Foundation also showed the film crew the Hurricane Irma shipwrecks in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and explained about the impacts and hazards on nature and environment. Next year, the shipwreck and debris removal project of the NRPB (National Recovery Program Bureau) will start, whereby also a number of wrecks will be identified to re-sink as artificial reefs and a diving attraction. On Friday, the film crew will also join the Nature Foundation to monitor the local Pelican population and will shoot beautiful views of our island, nature and waters.