Partners in REEF-IT St. Maarten pose at Tropical Shipping.
PHILIPSBURG–Tropical Shipping has teamed up with REEF-IT St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Nature Foundation as the initial sponsor of a coral reef regeneration initiative in Philipsburg. At REEF-IT Snorkel Park, located at Dock Maarten in Great Bay, St. Maarten, about fifty pieces of coral have been transplanted onto special reef balls.
“Thanks to Tropical Shipping’s sponsorship, REEF-IT is able to fast-track the acquisition and installation of reef balls. These special concrete structures will support the growth and abundance of juvenile fish while providing an anchoring system to transplant and grow coral reefs” stated REEF-IT’s Steve Hammond.
“Tropical Shipping is helping to lead the way and setting an example in corporate responsibility in St. Maarten and in other regions where they operate. REEF-IT has already been contacted by various other companies interested in sponsoring the coral reef regeneration initiative underway with the support of the Nature Foundation.”
REEF-IT’s Snorkel Park had a soft opening in March and since then has been setting up reef balls and starting to work with St. Maarten Nature Foundation to transplant coral fragments to start the regeneration process.
Tadzio Bervoets of Nature Foundation stated, “We’ve already been able to transplant approximately 50 coral fragments to the reef balls at the snorkel park from an area where the coral was threatened by poor water quality and sedimentation.
“This is such a great public/private initiative where we not only give the island’s coral reefs, some of which have declined by 80 per cent since Hurricane Irma, a fighting chance to regenerate, but at the same time develop a sustainable eco-tourism product which is unique in the Caribbean.
“Additionally, we were also so happy to be a part of school activities organised by REEF-IT where we were able to explain to students the importance of coral and physically show them some of the work that we do in terms of coral reef regeneration. We are therefore very happy to be a part of this initiative.”
While the coral reefs created at REEF-IT may be a drop in the bucket in terms of correcting the problem of coral bleaching and other environmental threats, there have already been numerous sightings of marine life at the reef park, including numerous schools of tropical reef fish, cuttlefish, eels, and stingrays, all of which point to a healthy ecosystem.
Tropical Shipping St. Maarten General Manager Keyla van Heyningen said, “Tropical Shipping is happy to sponsor REEF-IT and the St. Maarten Nature Foundation’s initiative to help create and support coral reef growth on St. Maarten. We were especially drawn to the programme because of the educational aspect of it.
“Tropical Shipping was very impressed by the concept that tourists and locals alike can take part in the snorkelling in pristine waters near the cruise terminal and Front Street, all while helping to raise funds and awareness for the St. Maarten Nature Foundation.”
For more information on the REEF-IT Snorkel Park at Dock Maarten and the Coral Reef Regeneration Initiative visit their website