St. Eustatius National Marine Park

Protected Area Overview

Managed by St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA)
Established 1996
Size 2,750 ha. (6,800 ac.)

St. Eustatius National Marine Park encircles the entire coastline of the island from the high-water mark to the 30 metre (100 feet) depth contour, extending up to a maximum of 3 kilometres (2 miles) offshore. It was established in 1996 to manage the island’s marine resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and future generations. The park protects 2750 hectares (27.5 km2) of biologically diverse coral reef, extensive seagrass beds, sandy seabed and open ocean communities.

St. Eustatius National Marine Park contains two actively managed reserves, the Northern Reserve and the Southern Reserve, where fishing and anchoring are prohibited. Diving is allowed and dive moorings have been installed to protect the reefs. The reserves, which together cover an area of 489 hectares (4.9 km2), have led to a tenfold increase in the numbers of several fish species.

St. Eustatius National Marine Park is one of the top five sites in the Caribbean for healthy coral and fish populations (2003, AGGRA Report). In some parts of the park, coral cover reaches 50%. Strands of rare black coral have also been found. The reefs shelter an abundance of species, including sea horses, octopuses, lobsters, manta rays, sharks and turtles. The Leatherback, (Dermochelys coriacea), the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) nest on the sandy beaches of the island. The park also lies on the seasonal migration route of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), which can be spotted around St. Eustatius from January to April.

The reefs of the St. Eustatius National Marine Park are extremely varied in morphology, having developed on the remains of an extinct volcano (Boven area) and a dormant volcano (The Quill). Reef formations include drop off walls, volcanic ‘fingers’ and ‘bombs’ and a distinctive spur and groove zone in the Southern Reserve. Additionally, the park includes shipwrecks dating from the 1700s to the present as well as modern-day artificial reefs. These features, coupled with the park’s rich and unique biodiversity, provide opportunities for high quality diving experiences. Snorkeling is also popular in the park. In Oranje Bay, snorkelers can see cannons, anchors, submerged sea walls, crumbling warehouses and the remains of old piers.

Learn more about the St. Eustatius National Marine Park on the website of STENAPA

Park Management Organisation: STENAPA

St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) is a non-profit organization commissioned by the island government to oversee the management of Statia’s natural environment. STENAPA’s management mandate covers management of the island’s three protected areas: the St. Eustatius Marine Park, the Quill/Boven National Park and the Botanical Garden. Collectively, the protected areas account for 33 square kilometers – more than the total land area of St. Eustatius

The mission of STENAPA is the: “Acquisition, preservation, protection and administration of parcels of land/water on St. Eustatius, worthy of preservation, due to:

  • Scenic beauty and/or the presence of flora and fauna important in scientific or cultural respects or valuable from a geological or historical point of view;
  • Its purpose is to serve for the well-being, the education and the recreation of the St. Eustatius population as well as that of visitors, all this with due observance of the primary requirement of preservation”.

STENAPA aims to fulfil its mission by achieving the following goals:

  • Purchase or acquire individual areas of land/water and the buildings possibly constructed thereon;
  • Administer, develop and protect these areas to do full justice to the preservation of nature, and scientific and cultural values and to the well-being of visitors;
  • Make these areas accessible to persons and institutions, who wish to visit to perform scientific studies, or for educational or recreational purposes;
  • Execute or stimulate scientific research on these areas, for the benefit of science itself and the benefit of preservation of the natural and cultural values of these areas.