The Nature Foundation manages the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, which was established December 31st of 2010. The designation of the marine protected area was a groundbreaking achievement for St. Maarten as it became the country’s first legally protected area.
The Man of War Shoal Marine Park is now a sanctuary for whales, dolphins, numerous species of sharks, sea turtles, coral reefs and a wide array of fishes. It is also a breeding site for three IUCN Red List species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 89 Appendix II species.
Studies conducted by the Nature Foundation indicate high levels of biodiversity and particularly high coral reef coverage within the park. The conserved state of the Man of War Shoal increases the economic value of goods and services on St. Maarten with fifty million dollars annually.
To successfully maintain the integrity of the marine protected area island legislation prohibits:
- The feeding of animals
- Sinking of vessels or other objects
- Any type of fishing
- Harassing marine life
- Removing live or dead animals or plants
- Discharging of chemicals or waste
- Placing, moving or removing anchor buoys
- Anchoring or use of anchors.
In the Conservation Zone, there is entire prohibition of: water scooter use, fishing, sailing on vessels exceeding six meters, removal of dead or alive organisms.
The purchase of your Man of War Shoal Entrance Tag is mandatory for entering the Marine Park. Any additional income generated through the sale of the tags and “nature fees” goes directly towards the management and maintenance of the marine protected area.
Location of the Marine Park
The Man of War Shoal Marine Park covers 31 km² (3,100 hectares or 7,660 acres) and is located off the southern shore of the island of St. Maarten. The boundaries of the marine park comprised of four coordinates:
- 18° 00.0′ N -63° 04.5′ W 18° 00.0′ N -63° 01.3′ W
- 17° 57.0′ N -63° 04.5′ W 17° 57.0′ N -63° 01.3′ W
Within the Boundary of the park the areas:
- To the left of 17° 58.55′ N -63° 04.5′ W & 18° 00.0′ N -63° 03.9′ W
- To the right of 17° 58.55′ N -63° 01.3′ W & 18° 00.0′ N -63° 03.0′ W
- To the south of 17° 58.4′ N -63° 04.5′ W & 17° 58.4′ N -63° 01.3′ W
must be remain open to shipping anytime.
Reefs and Islets
St. Maarten features some 28 dive sites that include natural and man-made reefs as well a few shipwrecks. Proselyte reef is a wonderful example of a historical wreck with artifacts. Within the conservation zone lie pristine coral reefs, particularly around the four islets Molly Beday, Pelican Rock, Cow and calf and Hen and chicks.
Pelican Rock is recognized by Bird Life International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for resident and migratory birds including the Audubon’s Shearwater and the national Brown pelican.
Marine life around our reefs include blue crabs, banded coral shrimp, spiny lobsters, Queen Conch & helmet conchs, Triton’s trumpets, long spined urchins, fireworms, sponges & cushion sea stars. You can also find porcupine fish, barracudas, spotted & plumed moray eels, spotted & plumed scorpionfish, long lured frog fish, nurse sharks, a wide variety of tropical fish, seahorses and dolphins. In recent years there has been an increase in foraging Hawksbill and Green sea turtles and the occasional Loggerhead as well that feed on the seagrass beds and sponges.