March 7, 2005 - #39
A Look At Lobsters
Liliane Frenkiel, a specialist in cellular and marine biology, made a visit to Saint-Barth recently, as a guest of the Grenat association that manages the island's Marine Park. She was here for an exhibit about burgos, or sea snails, as part of a meeting on Tuesday, February 22. She took advantage of her stay on the island to film lobsters. Now retired, she was a professor at University Antilles-Guyane for 16 years. She is currently involved in creating programs about the environment for "N Like Nature," which features short pieces of two to four minutes that have been airing during prime time on RFO Guadeloupe since the beginning of the year. The initial broadcast is at 6:45pm before the news, and each piece is rebroadcast the next day at 8:00am and 12:00pm. Overall, RFO plans to run about 100 of these spots throughout the year, covering various subjects related to the environment, from mangroves to conch by way of iguanas, and trash management. A mollusk specialist, Liliane Frenkiel is taking part in the creation of three films about lobsters. Having difficulty finding them in Guadeloupe, she asked Franciane Lequellec, the director of the Marine Park, if she could meet with one of the fishermen in Saint-Barth. Laurent Peter agreed and showed them samples of the crustaceans he finds here: male and female lobsters, as well as pregnant females, were filmed and photographed. These images will be integrated into the short films about lobsters.
Underwater Life: More fish but less algae
The underwater scene in the Marine Park is doing well, according to the first conclusions made by scientists from the University Antilles-Guyane. Max Louis and Claude and Yolande Bouchon are the three specialists from the marine biology lab at the campus in Guadeloupe who have been diving once every six months for the past three years in the waters around Saint-Barth. They were here last week for a new series of underwater observations. To make an efficient comparison, they set up two observation stations three years ago, one near the "Baleine du Pain de Sucre" in the waters of the Marine Park and one near little Coco island, outside of the park zones. After the past five successive periods of study, they confirmed that "the results from observation station near the Baleine du Pain de Sucre is doing well." The protection offered by the Marine Park can be seen in the increase in fish, both in quantity and number of different species. As for the report from the station near Coco, things are status quo. In fact, Sant-Barth has one of the observation stations in all the French West Indies that sees the largest number and diversity of species of fish. This good news due to the efforts of the Marine Park and fishing that is more restricted than in Guadeloupe, for example.
The island's coral is also doing better than in July 2004, when the last observations took place. Even though the coral reef has been reduced by 20-25%, it is doing better now partially due to strong swells this winter that also "cleaned" the ocean bottom as well as reduced the amount of algae that can suffocate the coral. The existence of young coral is visible, lending credibility to the theory it is growing. The scientists also observed a significant decrease in algae. Green algae that appeared three years ago has disappeared, and the amount of brown algae has returned to its previous level. For the scientists, the proliferation of these algae is a cyclical phenomenon difficult to explain.
More to come