Research & monitoring

Listed in order of priority for each island


In order of priority

  1. GCRMN monitoring leeward side 
  2. Reforestation of endangered and keystone species 
  3. Endemic species monitoring: Aruba Burrowing Owl, Aruba Brown-throated Parakeet, Aruba Rattlesnake, Four-eyed Frog, Aruba Cottontail
  4. Water quality and pollution source for marine environment 
  5. Marine environment inventory
  6. Invasive species (population, distribution, mitigation): Goats, Boa, Rubber vine & Coral vine, Dogs & Cats, Tilapia, Cane Toad 
  7. Terrestrial & Water bird monitoring 
  8. Terrestrial & Marine Invasive Species inventory 
  9. Breeding and reintroduction: Yellow Shouldered Amazon, Brown-throated parakeet, Crested Bobwhite 
  10. Habitat Mapping Marine Ecosystems


  1. Water Quality Monitoring – regular and need-based – hotspots and nutrient loading into the BNMP
  2. Quantifying grazer impact (donkeys as well) – erosion, runoff, and loss of biodiversity (impacts of donkeys, pigs) 
  3. Sustainable Recreation – biological pressures, tourist perceptions, resident perceptions
  4. Sargassum impact, sargassum disposal 
  5. Reef Fish populations, spawning aggregations
  6. Reef Fisheries study – repeat
  7. Hydrology – investigating runoff into marine park and proposed interventions
  8. Revised and detailed habitat maps – BNMP, WSNP 
  9. East coast monitoring of coral reefs
  10. Salinas, pekelmeer, Lac, Lagun – water quality/food supply/connection to sea/bird habitat – flamingos, shorebirds, waterbirds, nesting birds



  1. Remapping landscape ecological vegetation map → Starting next year
  2. Re-assessing permanent vegetation plots (8 * 250m2). → Need for  students. Timeline unsure. 
  3. Deer population estimation. → Need for students, could be a field survey for pellets or maybe drone with thermal. 
  4. More detailed bird research (flamingo’s, terrestrial birds, sea/shore birds). F.e. specific areas or total island. 
  5. Propagation of native flora from seeds. → Need for students


  1. Pollutants (oil, heavy metals, pesticides, endocrine disruptors, plastics, microbial etc) entering coastal waters (subterraneously) from land and their effects on marine organisms
  2. Stoichiometric aspects of nutrient enrichment on Caribbean reefs
  3. Design of cheap but effective waste water systems (using waste to generate biomass, energy etc.)
  4. What do coral communities do “well” in places where they are not expected? What makes corals cope with warmer water, more nutrients etc?
  5. Regarding the Halimeda project: Why not study all sand producing organisms to better understand where sand (and beaches) come from? Include nearshore-offshore mixing.
  6. Which herbivores can be used to reverse coral to algal phase shifts? Which algae are consumed and which ones aren’t?
  7. Effects of habitat fragmentation and its effect on gene flow on coral reefs
  8. The contribution of waterflow to reef health


  1. Saba Marine Park annual GCRMN Coral Reef and water quality monitoring. Analysis of collected data and report on trends.
  2. Cloud forest habitat mapping and monitoring
  3. Red-billed tropicbird and Audubon’s shearwater population assessments and continued monitoring
  4. Invasive predators assessment and control
  5. Annual terrestrial bird census
  6. Aerial mapping of representative vegetation zones, before and after removal of goats 
  7. Status and continued impact of lionfish invasion
  8. Status of Iguana melanoderma: population assessment and threats analysis
  9. Determine and monitor stony coral tissue loss disease in SNMP
  10. Determine spread of Halophila stipulacea in SNMP
  11. Determine impact of COVID19 on marine habitats
  12. Feasibility of artificial reefs and sea urchin population restoration
  13. Determine feasibility of reforestation of degraded terrestrial habitats in MSNP
  14. Sedimentation monitoring and data analysis in SNMP
  15. Continued shark monitoring
  16. Sea turtle population assessment

Johnstone's tree frog

(Eleutherodactylus johnstonei)

Photo credit: © Christian König

Saba Bank

  1. Carrying capacity of main target species (red snappers and lobster (also part of BO program): what data do we need to collect in order to create a complete picture of the current target species’ stock?
  2. Sustainable fisheries practices: reduction of reef fish and improved gear technology.
  3. Unused stocks: identify potential and sustainability of currently unused fish stocks such as diamond-back squid, swimming crabs, deep water shrimps, flying fish.
  4. Commercial fish species: identify reproductive season or peak spawning period and area: preferably aim for red hinds, multiple grouper species and the queen triggerfish.
  5. Feasibility of habitat restoration/artificial habitat for lobsters, sea urchins and other herbivore species on the Saba Bank
  6. Yearly coral reef monitoring of the Saba Bank dive sites with yearly reporting.
  7. Sharks and rays: Improve baseline data of elasmobranch species and decrease shark bycatch numbers. 
  8. Ecological role of Saba Bank for sharks (nursery for nurse sharks, tigersharks, silky sharks, sandbar sharks). 
  9. Ecological role of the Saba Bank passage (between Saba and Saba Bank) for deepwater sharks (e.g. dog fish).
  10. Marine mammals: aerial survey (SSS islands (Saba Bank and waters surrounding Saba, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius), seasonal presence, isolation and abundance as well as seasonal migratory destination(s) and population history. (with main focus on humpback whales and proper identification of pad of dolphins present year round on the Saba Bank
  11. Assessment of abundance of lionfish on the Saba Bank (following guidelines of STINAPA).
  12. Management review or effectiveness of the Saba Bank Management Unit.

St. Eustatius

  1. Vegetation mapping (remote sensing and permanent vegetation plots) for terrestrial parks
  2. Annual terrestrial bird census
  3. Tropic bird monitoring (hatchling success and adult abundance)
  4. Bridled Quail-Dove abundance and distribution monitoring
  5. Iguana abundance and distribution monitoring
  6. Invasive species monitoring (cats, rats, roaming animals)
  7. GCRMN monitoring
  8. Fisheries independent monitoring of commercially targeted species (i.e. Conch, lobster, groupers, snappers, pelagics)
  9. Monitoring of water quality, sedimentation, and erosion. 
  10. Marine habitat mapping
  11. Seagrass monitoring
  12. Tanker impact study on Queen conch population
  13. Sea turtles monitoring (i.e. in-water and nesting success)
  14. Shark and ray distribution and abundance monitoring
  15. Monitor stony coral tissue loss disease
  16. Research best practices for sea urchin population restoration
  17. Marine Mammals presence and abundance.

Red-bellied Racer

(Alsophis rufiventris)

Photo credit: © Henkjan Kievit (SHAPE/DCNA)

St. Maarten

  1. Coral Reef Monitoring (GCRMN) and analysis (need especially assistance for analyzing pictures, data and processing data. 
  2. Marine Habitat Mapping 
  3. Seagrass research; abundance and status (to increase protection of sea grasses)
  4. Water quality testing and impacts of poor water quality on marine life and especially on coral reefs.
  5. Sea turtle monitoring; abundance and status (including threat assessment).  
  6. Marine Mammals presence and abundance. 
  7. Impact and potential management plans for invasive species. This includes: monkeys, iguanas, mongoose, african land snail, racoons, red eared slider
  8. Improve baseline data on sharks
  9. Status and management plans for protected and endangered species. 
  10. Fisheries inventory; inventory of active fishermen, catch/effort, target species and size, fishing areas