SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Last weekend the Nature Foundation Sint Maarten had the possibility to conduct two free Coral Education Snorkel Trips. These snorkels were funded by sponsors, such as Windward Roads, FKG, Dock Maarten Marina, and Port de Plaisance Marina, and won as prizes for the 8th Annual Underwater Easter Egg Hunt organized by the Scuba Shop. These free education snorkels provided students the opportunity to snorkel and swim at two spots around St Maarten, while seeing new and exciting marine life firsthand and learn more about corals and their importance.
“The Nature Foundation is excited to offer these snorkels to local participants,” said Leslie Hickerson, Nature Foundation Educational Outreach Officer, “Many students and adults on St. Maarten do not get an opportunity like this to learn more about the marine ecosystem that surrounds our island. Our past snorkels have been very popular and have shown that there is a great interest in coral reefs.”
The Scuba Shop, St. Maarten organizes and hosts the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt every year at Divi Little Bay. The funds raised from this event goes towards the Nature Foundation and the ongoing education projects. “We would like to thank Kim Frye for her continued support in our various projects and especially in organizing the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt. Our entire team and board are beyond grateful for your support to our mission “Nature Is Our Future” emphasized the Manager of the Nature Foundation Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
Every year, various businesses who do not have items to donate for prizes for the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt can donate funds along a theme to support the Nature Foundation’s education efforts. This year’s theme was Coral Education Snorkels. Windward Roads donated enough funds to sponsor an entire boat for a coral education snorkel as well as donate t-shirts for all participants and staff. Each boat can take a maximum of 20 participants, allowing them to all learn more about St. Maarten’s coral reefs. The topics covered in the coral education snorkels include discussing the different types of coral, the benefits of coral and their threats, and most importantly, how we can help keep our coral alive and healthy.
A second snorkel was also conducted, with joint funding from FKG, Dock Maarten Marina, and Port de Plaisance Marina. These snorkels are very beneficial to all parties involved and would not have been possible without all the sponsors nor The Scuba Shop St. Maarten who organized this year’s theme for funding in addition to the Annual Underwater Easter Egg Hunt!
“We are incredibly grateful to our Underwater Easter Egg Hunt prize sponsors Windward Roads, FKG Marine, Dock Maarten Marina, and Port de Plaisance Marine who enabled 40 persons to enjoy a snorkel tour while learning about our coral reefs from the Nature Foundation,” said Kim Frye, owner of The Scuba Shop and organizer of the Annual Underwater Easter Egg Hunt. “We want to encourage more St. Maarteners to see and value our coastal waters and marine life due to the beauty and importance of it all. We look forward to continuing our support for the Nature Foundation and hope more businesses can join us in supporting the foundation’s efforts.”
On the education snorkels, ‘Santino’ the boat facilitated by Aqua Mania Watersports, drives to Little Bay to hear the first presentation from foundation staff. The group discussed why corals are considered animals, and handled a 3D printed model of a coral polyp. After the presentation, participants then jump into the water to snorkel and look for corals.
After Little Bay, ‘Santino’ drives over to Mullet Bay for another presentation about the threats that are facing St. Maarten’s coral reefs and what individuals can do to support healthy coral growth. After the second presentation and discussion, students were invited to get back in the water for another swim or snorkel along the rocks.
The Coral Education Snorkels are a large part of the Nature Foundation’s education efforts to create motivated and inspired advocates within our community. These advocates help spread awareness about the importance of corals and how they impact the lives of those living in St. Maarten. The Nature Foundation is looking forward to using the funds collected from the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt to increase the education efforts. The Foundation would like to thank all sponsors and parties for their help and involvement.