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.

Lantana Camara

Lantana camara, also known as big-sage (Malaysia), wild-sage, red-sage, white-sage (Caribbean) and tickberry (South Africa), is a species of flowering plant within the verbena family, Verbenaceae, that is native to the American tropics. Lantana camara, often planted to embellish gardens, has spread from its native Central and South America to around 50 different countries, where…

American Kestrel

The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a beautiful small bird of prey that lives on all six Dutch Caribbean Islands. It is often referred to as the “Sparrow Hawk” because it is one of the smallest birds of prey. Locally it is known as Killy Killy – the name refers to the rapid sound the…

Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Rays (Aetobatus narinari) are one of the most majestic animals of the sea. Their large triangular pectoral fins resemble the wings of a bird in flight, making the rays look as if they are serenely flying through the ocean. Their prominent head also has the appearance of a bird; the long, pointed and…


Seahorses (Hippocampus erectus, Hippocampus reidi) are rarely seen swimming around the reef and are more likely to be holding onto soft coral or a strand of algae or seagrass. This is because seahorses are not very good swimmers as their body is much larger than their fins. Because they are slow swimmers, they cannot chase…

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.

Longlure Frogfish

The Longlure Frogfish is a very odd-looking fish that is hard to find because it looks so much like a sponge. It actually takes on the colour of the dominant sponge to hide away from predators

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.

Antillean Crested Hummingbird

The Antillean crested hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. You will most likely see these tiny birds fluttering around a variety of native flowers, eating nectar, although they also eat insects. They use absurd amounts of energy by moving their wings so fast, that is the reason they need to eat all day. Otherwise…

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…

Spotted Dolphins

Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are very acrobatic and often ride the bow waves of boats

Green Iguana

The green iguana (Iguana iguana) is a large, arboreal, mostly herbivorous species of lizard of the genus Iguana. It is native to Central, South America, and the Caribbean. Usually, this animal is simply called the iguana. The green iguana ranges over a large geographic area, from southern Brazil and Paraguay as far north as Mexico and the Caribbean Islands. An herbivore, it has adapted significantly with regard to locomotion and osmoregulation as a result of its…

Flamboyant Tree

Delonix regia is a species of flowering plant in the bean family Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. It is noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers.

Guavaberry Tree

The fruit from the Guavaberry Tree (Myrciaria floribunda) tree is used to make a special liqueur that is not only St. Maarten’s national drink but is also the island’s traditional Christmas drink.

Spinner Dolphins

Spinner dolphins get their common name from their habit of jumping out of the water and spinning several times in the air before re-entering the water


Ospreys are medium-large fish-eating birds of prey in the genus Pandion. The osprey or more specifically the western osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upper parts and predominantly greyish on…

Short-beaked Common Dolphin

The Short-beaked Common Dolphin has a small, slender body with a tall pointed dorsal fin in the middle of the back, a rounded melon and a longish beak.

Whale Shark

the whale shark is a highly migratory species, travelling distances of up to 2000 km in two months

nurse shark

Nurse Shark

When you go diving around a Caribbean island you might spot a docile looking shark with a light brownish color laying still on the seafloor, hidden away between crevices or in a cave. This species is called the nurse shark. Despite a broad range of theories, the origin of its name remains unclear, but it does…

reef shark

Reef Shark

Reef sharks are the most abundant shark species in the Caribbean, although their numbers have declined severely over the past decades. The status of its populations is currently assessed as near threatened, but experts say it is expected that the species will meet the criteria for a vulnerable classification soon.

A blue and grey shark. Slightly striped and with more fins

Tiger Shark

The illustrious tiger shark is a circumglobal species that is found in a wide variety of habitats in warm temperate oceans and moves into the Caribbean in the winter. Throughout the year, individuals migrate far distances.

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.


Stingrays are a group of rays, which are cartilaginous fish related to sharks. Most stingrays have one or more barbed stingers on the tail, which are used exclusively in self-defense

A grey blue whale

Humpback Whale

The majestic Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrates through the waters of the Dutch Caribbean Islands during the winter months (typically January to April). Caribbean populations of Humpback Whales follow the same migration route every year

brown booby

Brown Booby

The brown booby (Sula leucogaster) is a large seabird. The female booby reaches about 80 centimetres in length, its wingspan measures up to 150 cm, and they can weigh up to 1,300 g. The male booby reaches about 75 centimetres in length, its wingspan measures up to 140 cm, and they can weigh up to 1,000 g. This species…

Great Barracuda

One of you may not know that the Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) is also known as the Giant Barracuda. This is because Great Barracudas can grow up to nearly two metres (~six feet) and can weigh up to 40 kilogrammes (~88 pounds). Fisherman from the Dutch Caribbean report some catches this large from years ago,…

A big brown and white striped fish with a relatively big mouth

Nassau Grouper

The Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) is a large fish that inhabits our reefs and is especially common in the waters of Saba. As is typical of groupers, it has a robust, elongated body, rounded fins and big lips. Its overall color is pale tan for fish found in shallow areas and pinkish red for fish found in…

Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog

The Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog (Eleutherodactylus johnstonei) is the most common frog within the Eastern Caribbean. It is also known as Johnstone’s Tree Frog, named after Robert Johnstone, the Chief Justice of Grenada who helped discover the first specimens. This frog is found on most islands of the Lesser Antillean including Saba, Anguilla, Barbados, St.…

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 General Info

There are four types of Sea Turtles that have been documented in St. Maarten; Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Loggerhead. If you would like to see detailed information and photos from St. Maarten you can view each page by clicking on that species below: Green Sea Turtles Hawksbill Sea Turtles Leatherback Sea Turtles Loggerhead Sea Turtles…


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…