Some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems exist within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the islands of the Dutch Caribbean. From pristine coral reefs to rare elfin cloud forest, the spectacular natural world of these six islands includes plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet.

elfin forest
Elfin forest on Mt Kemiri, Sumatra, Indonesia

Flora means all the plant life that is present on this island and fauna means all the animals that live here. Below you’ll find a list of plants, trees, birds, butterflies, fish, sharks and snails that live on this island or in the immediate surrounding waters.

Brown Pelican

If you look out over St. Maarten’s coastline, you will probably see St. Maarten’s national bird, the Brown Pelican, resting on boats or gliding low above the ocean, peering for fish below. The smallest of all pelican species, the Brown Pelican has a brown-gray body and a yellowish-white head. The neck is white except during…

Loggerhead Turtle

Loggerhead Sea Turtles have a very large and thick head which resembles a log (where the turtle gets its name). This species is very important to the ecosystem for several reasons. For example they as these turtles feed on invertebrates the shells pass through their systems and fall back to the ocean floor then becoming…

Leatherback Turtle

The Leatherback Turtle looks quite different from other species of sea turtles because it does not have a hard carapace (shell) like Green, Hawksbill or Loggerhead Turtles; it is instead covered by a grey/black layer of flexible and leathery skin (from which it gets it’s name). Its paddle-shaped front flippers do not have claws and…

Bottlenose Dolphin

The Common Bottlenose Dolphin is one of the most frequent marine mammals that can be spotted in the waters of St. Maarten/Martin. A large species of dolphins the bottlenose can reach up to 4 meters/ 13 feet long. While sightings can happen year round, they are rare and primarily happen in the late spring and…

green sea turtle

Green Turtle

This large sea turtle is named after the green color of its body fat, a coloring that results from the Green Turtle’s unique herbivorous diet.

Hawksbill Turtle

The Hawksbill is a small sea turtle known for its love of sponges and with the hawk-like beak, from which it gets its common name, enables it to reach into holes and crevices to find sponges and small invertebrates.

Anguilla Bank Bush Anole

These anoles are of small to moderate size for the genus, with a maximum known head-body length of 50 mm in males and 42 mm in females. They are slender and have relatively long snouts, superficially resembling Greater Antillean “grass-bush” anoles. Variation in colour is very pronounced in these lizards. The colour and pattern of…

A Shark with the head looking just like a Hammer

Hammerhead Shark

The hammerhead shark is probably one the most bewildering animals in the sea because of the distinctive but well-recognized shape of their head. In total, there are seven species of hammerhead sharks, but you won’t find them all in the Dutch Caribbean.

Elkhorn Coral

Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) was once one of the most common corals in the Caribbean. This stony coral is easy to identify as its unique shape resembles the horns of an elk. This coral is one of the most important reef building species and it is currently listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red…

Sea Turtles on St. Maarten

It is currently sea turtle nesting season. Please read this page to learn more about how to help and what to do if you encounter our most beloved marine local! St. Maarten is home to four documented species of sea turtle (family Cheloniidae): the green, hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead. Both resident and migratory populations of…


Parrotfish are one of the more common species of fish to be found in the waters surrounding St. Maarten, which is lucky for us because they play a very important role in the health of the coral reef system and sand beaches! Parrotfish their name from their bright colors and sharp beak-like teeth used for…


There are close to 100 different species of angelfish (pomacanthidae) but the three most come to spot in St. Maarten are the French Angelfish, the Gray Angelfish and the Queen Angelfish. French Angelfish The most common is the French angelfish which are easy to identify due to there distinctive coloring and disc shaped body. These…