Information for divers
The St. Eustatius Marine Park surrounds the entire island of St Eustatius from the high water level to 30 meter (100 feet) depth. There is a general use zone and two protected reserves that are restricted for fishing and anchoring.
Diving occurs mainly in the North and South reserve as well as two other areas: the historical wreck sites in the bay and the modern wreck sites: Wreck City, Chien Tong and the Charles Brown.
The Marine Park started operations on the first of January 1998. We hope that measures we take now to conserve this exquisite environment will mean that the coral reefs will be here not only for us to enjoy but for future generations also.
For more information on the St.Eustatius Marine Park, visit the website of STENAPA at: www.statiapark.org.
The law on St. Eustatius states that diving for nonresidents is only allowed under local guidance. This is to ensure that no historical artifacts or marine life are removed from our waters. It implies that you have to contact a local dive operator if you wish to dive. If you are going to dive in the Marine Park however, there is an admission fee to be paid. This fee can be paid at the Marine Park office, which is located at Lower Town close to the harbor. Or, you can pay it through Golden Rock Dive Center.
The Marine Park fees are:
- US$ 6.00 for a single dive pass.
- US$ 6.00 per snorkeling trip when using the marine park buoys.
- US$30.00 for a year pass. (Valid for the full 365 days of the year, no matter when you start.)
The revenue from admission fees is used exclusively by the Marine Park:
- To provide a visitor center for information about the Park and Park activities.
- To pay for upkeep and maintenance of the Park, e.g., maintaining the system of mooring buoys used by dive boats.
- To provide information and educational materials for visitors and local people alike.
- To employ Park Rangers who patrol the Park and provide information and assistance to Park users.
- To instigate research and monitoring programs vital to Park management.
The St Eustatius Marine Park is managed by STENAPA (St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation). Apart from the Marine Park, STENAPA manages two more nature programs on the island: the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden on the east side of The Quill and the Quill-Boven National Park. The Botanical Garden is still in the developmental stage, planting started in 2002 and a number of Gardens are now open. The trails to, in and around The Quill have been open since 2000.
The Quill National Park
Information for hikers:
The Quill National Park was pronounced the first official National Park of the Netherlands Antilles on May 4th, 1998. Since then the area is a protected nature reserve. It consists of the dormant volcano The Quill and the limestone formations to the south of it, called White Wall. It includes the slopes of the volcano from the 250 meter height line and up, plus the interior of the crater. White Wall is protected all the way down to the high water line. The National Park is managed by STENAPA. STENAPA has created more trails, around The Quill to White Wall continuing to the Botanical Garden or all the way around the slopes of the crater. Recently a new trail into the crater was completed and can be done with a guide.
Nature on The Quill:
The Quill National Park provides the habitat for a number of endangered species. Most of them are protected by local laws and some also through international treaties. Some species you can see are:
The Antillean Iguana (Iguana delicatissima)
The Antillean Iguana is a rare and threatened species which can be distinguished from its more common Central American relative, the Green Iguana, by its rather uniform color. The young and females vary from bright green to dull grayish, while the large males can be almost black. The Green Iguana always develops a striped pattern with black and gray when it reaches adulthood. The plates of the comb on the back of the Antilles Iguana are smaller and it lacks the typical circular marking of the Green Iguana below and behind the eye.
The Antillean Iguana is only present on a few of the Lesser Antilles. In many of our neighboring islands it disappeared when mongoose were introduced to fight rats. Unfortunately rats are nocturnal animals, mongoose are not. So the mongoose started to feed on the local reptiles and decimated them.
Since then the Green Iguana was introduced on some of the Lesser Antilles to repopulate the islands with Iguanas. For the Antillean Iguana this was more bad news, since the small population that was left was wiped out by hybridization.
Fortunately enough Statia still does neither have mongoose nor Green Iguanas. It is not allowed to import them. Another threat to the Iguanas was human consumption, but a local law now prohibits catching them. All these factors were and are reasons why we still have one of the most healthy Iguana breeding populations, living on the Slopes of The Quill and in the North of the island.
Iguana delicatissima feeds on flowers, leaves and fruits, but does not shy away from carrion or bird eggs. When you walk The Quill trail look into the trees and branches for the Iguanas. They are hard to find!
Red – Bellied Racer (Alsophis rufiventris)
The story of the Red – Bellied Racer is almost the same as that of the Iguana except that outside of Statia it can only be found on neighboring Saba.
The Red – Bellied Racer is a small snake (22-30 inches). It is brown with black markings on the back. The belly has a pinkish hue. It is not poisonous and the teeth are so small, that they can barely penetrate human skin. It feeds on small reptiles and young rats by strangling them. You can see the snakes on the ground, lying in ambush for their prey. A survey in 2004 found that Statia has an extremely healthy population of this snake and they are easy to spot in the Quill National Park.
Ground Lizard (Ameiva erythrocephala)
One of the most common animals on Statia. They are very recognizable because of the light yellowish lines along their flanks and their red heads. The larger males develop a blue mark on the side of their bellies. They live in holes and you will see them all along the trail.
There are two species of Anolis Lizards living on Statia: Anolis bimaculatus and Anolis wattsi. Anolis lizards can be recognized by the presence of a dewlap under their chin. Anolis bimaculatus has a bright green ground color, sometimes with some blue and yellow in it. It has a yellow to orange dewlap. Anolis wattsi has a yellowish brown to almost black ground color with a yellow to whitish dewlap.
Two of the more common birds that you can find especially on The Quill are the Blue or Red-necked Pigeon (Columba squamosa), a dark-blue large pigeon with a red neck, and the Bridles Quail Dove (Geotrygon mystacea) a plumb dove with a brown-greenish back, light brown belly and a white stripe just under the eye. There is a Bird Observation trail at the Botanical Garden and birds commonly observed on this trail include the Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus), Bananaquit (Tiaris bicolor), Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis), Zenaida dove (Zenaida aurita), Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis) and American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla).
15 species of protected orchids are known to Statia. The more common ones can be seen along the trails on The Quill. You have to look for them though. Look on the trunks and main branches of (big) trees.
Some of the more abundant species are: Brassavola cuculata (slender white flower of 2.5″ in summer), Oncydium urophyllum (long stalked 12″ bunch of yellow flowers in summer), Epidendrum ciliare (short stalked greenish white flowers in summer) and Epidendrum kraenzlinii (long stalked 12″ bunch of violet flowers in winter).