Nature on St. Maarten
Despite being only 16 square miles in land area, St. Maarten has stunning natural profiles that continue to inspire breath-taking moments of visual perception. Physically, the west end is an atoll of low land surrounding a lagoon while the east end is a range of conical hills. Vegetation type differs per location so that evergreen seasonal forests are found at higher elevations in the central hills while drought deciduous and mixed evergreen deciduous thorn woodlands are abundant in the lower plains. The island has numerous bays, rocky shores and white sandy beaches with coastal vegetation and succulent evergreen shrubland. Mangroves line brackish ponds and parts of the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
St. Maarten is covered with evergreen forests, deciduous and mixed evergreen deciduous thorn woodlands, and succulent evergreen shrubland. The island’s most developed mangrove forests are found at Simpson Bay Lagoon and Mullet Pond. Patch reefs and corals are located in shallow waters, close to shore.
The seagrass beds that extend from Great Bay to Cupecoy Beach are critical for coastal stabilization, hurricane protection and water quality. Various offshore islands, including Pelican Rock and Molly B’Day, are nesting sites for migratory and resident seabirds.
St. Maarten is home to a multitude of species. The island’s mangrove forests are vital nurseries and breeding grounds for reef fish and other marine life. The hillsides provide habitat for wildlife such as lizards, insects and bats. The shorelines and shallow waters provide shelter for numerous birds.
Over twenty species of coral shelter an uncounted number of fish species. Seagrass beds are breeding grounds for lobster and conch, and provide food for the endangered Hawksbill, Green and Leatherback turtle that nest on St. Maarten beaches.