The Nature Foundation St. Maarten Receives New Educational Materials for the Save St. Maarten Corals Project with the Assistance of Virtual Concepts International and DCNA.

The Nature Foundation. St. Maarten recently received a coral polyp model and created a poster about the state of St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs as new educational materials for presentations in coordination with the ‘Save St. Maarten Corals  Project’. Both the coral polyp model and the poster will be used to help educate the public of the importance of coral reefs surrounding the island and what threats they are facing.

The coral polyp model was 3D printed by Dean Legg of Virtual Concepts International, located in Cole Bay. This model shows an individual coral polyp which can be opened to see its cross section. The model took over fifty hours to print and was sponsored both by Virtual Concepts International and the Dutch Caribbean National Alliance (DCNA). With this, the Nature Foundation can easily show students how thousands of these tiny animals make up a coral polyp, how they eat and digest their food, and why they need to be protected.

“The coral polyp model is a great addition to the education materials for the Nature Foundation and we are so thankful that Virtual Concepts was able to print this here on-island for us,” said Educational Outreach Officer Leslie Hickerson, “Many students on the island have not been introduced to coral reefs which are incredibly important to St. Maarten. Being able to handle the model and see in detail how coral polyps live and survive is a unique opportunity for St. Maarten’s students.”

The posters created by the Foundation and sponsored by the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine highlights the Marine Protected Area in St. Maarten and those threats that affect our coral reefs including; climate change, hurricanes, coral disease, waste water contamination, toxic sunscreen use, and pollution.

The new materials were used in an Introduction to Corals Class with the Nature Foundation Junior Rangers, who recently completed their PADI Junior Open Water Diving Certification with Ocean Explorers Dive Center. The Junior Rangers who were selected over the summer will be given several courses about our natural environment and what they can do to protect it. The scuba diving certification was made possible by contributions from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Ocean Explorers Dive Center on St. Maarten.

“The students were able to learn about the corals they had seen first-hand on their certification dives with our polyp model. The combination of the certification course and the Introduction to Corals Class was very effective in helping the students to understand these unique animals,” said Hickerson, “We are so excited to use these materials in more presentations both in person and online with local students!” 

If your school or organization would like a presentation about St. Maarten’s Coral Reefs please contact education@naturefoundationsxm.org