Our Marine Environment

It’s there for everyone…

Our tours operate within the confines of two national marine parks – Sint Maarten Nature Foundation on the Dutch side and Saint Martin Réserve Naturelle on the French side.  There are certain rules and regulations that we must abide by. These rules are not just there for the sake of mindless bureaucracy, they are in place to ensure that we all get to enjoy the beauty of what nature has to offer. You, me and the multitude of visitors who will follow. Aside from any regulatory body enforcing the rules, it’s just the right thing to do!

Take only photos!

  • Removing anything from within the confines of the marine park is strictly prohibited. We’re sure that Queen Conch shell you just found would make a worthy memory of your vacation and would look amazing on your mantle piece. There are, however, a few good reasons to leave it where it is. Firstly, the transport of many shells and coral fragments is illegal and can result in hefty fines (C.I.T.E.S). Besides depriving future visitors the chance to witness nature in all it’s glory, you could be robbing some other sea creature of a potential home. Empty conch shells are perfect pre-fab homes for hermit crabs and other ocean dwellers. Even an old tin roof over time can become a haven for all manner of creatures, who can find shelter beneath the protection it provides. If you see something seemingly out of place, by all means let one of our crew know but please, do not disturb it.

You’re big, you’re ugly, scary and you’re in my face!

  • If you get too close, you are interfering. Please keep your distance from the wildlife. If you get too close then you are impacting the natural behavior of the animal and disrupting the natural cycle. At best you’ll frighten the animal off and ruin everyone else’s opportunity to get that once in a lifetime photo. At worst you may get bitten or stung. We’ll patch you up and do what we can to ease the pain but don’t expect TOO much much sympathy. One of the most popular stops on our tours is visiting the Green Sea Turtles on Tintamare Island. There are certain behaviors you should avoid both for the health of the turtle and the enjoyment of other visitors in the area…
    • Swimming over the top of a turtle feeding – casting a shadow over a feeding turtle alerts them to the presence of a potential predator. This may cause the turtle to break off feeding and prepare to flee. This might be fine if you’re the only person in the water but what happens if there are five people all swimming around? The turtle can become very stressed and decide he needs to be somewhere else entirely.
    • Chasing a turtle – all you will get is a fish-butt photo and tired legs. Trust me. Turtles swim faster and further than you can. If a turtle is swimming away from you then they have something better to do or you got too close. Give up and find a better opportunity.
    • Touching or holding onto a turtle – not cool. Not cool at all. One way to ensure that you will be confined to the boat for the rest of the day, if not forced to walk the plank.

Feeding is not OK, anytime.

  • Indiscriminate feeding of wildlife is a common practice in a lot of places but it never works out well for the wildlife. This has been proven time and time again. Animals become over-dependent on an easy supply of food which then leads to a change in their natural behavior. Fish and other marine creatures are no different than land animals in this respect. They will give up their usual predatory nature and rely on the false economy of the human induced food source. When that food source disappears, they often do not easily transition back to being predators and most often starve to death.
  • The common food of choice offered by humans is bread or fruit, neither of which occur in the natural marine environment. Do you really want to get an animal hooked on a food source that they can only get when you are there to feed them?
  • We do not allow or condone feeding fish or other marine creatures within or outside of the marine park. It is in fact, illegal to feed any wildlife within the confines of the marine park.

We highly encourage you to visit our partners at the two respective ecological authorities on the island and discover all that Sint Maarten/Saint Martin has to offer….

Sint Maarten Nature Foundation | Saint Martin Réserve Naturelle