Special Exhibit Launch Party

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Tuesday was the last Mardi de Grand Case street fair of the season, and also the launch party for our new special exhibit: Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean. We were delighted to have over 600 visitors to the museum for this special event! If you didn’t make it, you can check out the exhibit Tuesdays and Thursdays between 4-8pm until May 2nd, or at the 2017 Endemic Animal Festival on Sunday, April 23rd from 9am-3pm. The exhibit was made possible by a grant from Be the Change SXM. Visit their site to learn how you can support great projects on St. Martin.

New Paintings at the Amuseum

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We are lucky to have some gorgeous new paintings at the Amuseum thanks to Sélénia Sanner. Now, each of the exhibits in our main room has a companion painting, and they are gorgeous. The concept was to have paintings related to the theme of each exhibit at ground level in the Amuseum to capture the imagination of our youngest guests. In fact, they are an amazing addition for all our guests. Here are images of the most recent paintings we added, although photos don’t really do them justice so please visit the Amuseum to see them in person!

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Crabitat Launches Today

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In celebration of World Wetlands Day, Amuseum Naturalis is launching the Crabitat, a fascinating new exhibit showcasing the fiddler crabs that can be found in great numbers around virtually all of St. Martin’s ponds. The Crabitat will be a special attraction on Tuesday, January 31st during the Mardis de Grand Case street fair.

World Wetlands Day is a global program that raises awareness about the importance of wetlands. On St. Martin, salt ponds and other wetlands are one of the richest ecosystems, hosting a wide diversity of life. They also provide the valuable service of processing organic material, keeping our seas crystal clear and our coral reefs vibrant. Fiddler crabs, which are the featured stars of the Crabitat, are key players in this system, sifting organic matter from the sand.

“The Crabitat is a great way to get an up-close view of these adorable and ecologically important critters,” explains Mark Yokoyama, co-curator of Amuseum Naturalis. “World Wetlands Day is the perfect opportunity to give them a turn in the spotlight.”

Amuseum Naturalis, a free nature museum in Grand Case created by the Les Fruits de Mer association, also showcases wetlands in Gut Life, an ongoing exhibit about freshwater wildlife. In the Amuseum Naturalis theater, short films about the freshwater animals of St. Martin and fiddler crabs will also be in rotation. The Amuseum’s special exhibit room will be featuring displays about wetland birds and the impact of drought on wetlands.

“The chance to learn about the island’s natural heritage is something we’re excited to share with our employees, our customers, their families and everyone on St. Martin,” commented Christian Papaliolios, President and General Director of Delta Petroleum, the primary sponsor of Amuseum Naturalis. “It’s a fun and meaningful way to give back to the community that supports us.”

Amuseum Naturalis is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-8pm, and is located at 96 Boulevard de Grand Case. Completely free thanks to the support of Delta Petroleum and the Friends of the Amuseum, the Amuseum welcomes residents and visitors of all ages to discover St. Martin’s natural heritage.

Take a peek inside the Crabitat:

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New in the Tank

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We’ve got an interesting new addition to the tank, straight from the gut in Concordia. It’s an apple snail! There are quite a few different species, including some native to the Caribbean, but we haven’t figured out exactly what this one is yet. They are especially good at living in places with seasonal dry periods because they can breathe in two way: by gill or by lung.

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The Invaders Launched

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We are excited to launch a new exhibit telling one of the most interesting stories we know about wildlife on St. Martin: the animals that arrived on St. Martin with the human help and have transformed both the ecology and history of the island and continue to do so. The invaders have exterminated native species, spread disease and even helped cause the collapse of at least one agricultural industry.

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February Special Exhibit Launch

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On Tuesday we launched the new featured exhibit in our special exhibit hall, Women, People of Color and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean, created by Jenn Yerkes. The exhibit launched with engaging, in-depth displays on four largely unsung figures in Caribbean natural history studies: Maria Sibylla Merian, Graman Quassi, Richard Hill and Felipe Poey. The exhibit will be on display for the next month, with additional profiles to be added during that time.

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Special Exhibit Launching Tuesday

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This duck species was named by 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist Richard Hill.
This duck species was named by 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist Richard Hill.

Island residents and tourists of all ages are invited to the free grand opening of the exhibit Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean, on Tuesday, February 9 from 6-10pm at Amuseum Naturalis in Grand Case.

The exhibit is a special series at Amuseum Naturalis, created to shine a light on the contributions of women and people of color in the study of natural history in the Caribbean, from the 1600s to the early 1900s. The exhibit brings their discoveries, explorations and stories to life with vivid biographical snapshots and reproductions of beautiful historical zoological and botanical illustrations, engravings, portraits and maps.

The exhibit spotlights women like groundbreaking naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, who led her own scientific expedition to Suriname in 1699.
The exhibit spotlights women like groundbreaking naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, who led her own scientific expedition to Suriname in 1699.

“The historical contributions of women and people of color to science have often been hidden, suppressed, or simply not as well publicized as those of their white male contemporaries, and this is just as true in the Caribbean as elsewhere,” explains Jenn Yerkes, Amuseum Naturalis co-curator and Les Fruits de Mer President. “We wanted to create an opportunity for people to discover the fascinating stories of these incredible women and men who helped to build the scientific heritage of the Caribbean.”

The free, public exhibit will launch Tuesday night with the first installation of the series, which will include captivating figures such as naturalist and scientific artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717), known for her expedition to Suriname to document Caribbean insects, reptiles, birds, and plants; Graman Quassi (ca. 1690 – ca. 1780), a renowned Surinamese healer and botanist of African descent; Richard Hill (1795-1872), a trailblazing mixed-race naturalist and anti-slavery activist from Jamaica; and Felipe Poey (1799-1891), a Cuban zoologist known for his pioneering study of Caribbean marine life. The upcoming installations will be added throughout the run of the exhibit, so there will be new additions for visitors to enjoy every week. The exhibit will coincide with Black History Month and run through International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016.

The exhibit's launch will include the 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist and abolitionist Richard Hill.
The exhibit’s launch will include the 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist and abolitionist Richard Hill.

Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean will be on display in the special exhibit hall of Amuseum Naturalis, Les Fruits de Mer’s free pop-up museum of natural history located at 96 Boulevard de Grand Case. Amuseum Naturalis is open to the public on Tuesdays during the Mardis de Grand Case street fair, and is sponsored by Delta Petroleum.

Focus on Wetlands

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The Commander, a freshwater crayfish, grooms his large claw in preparation for Tuesday’s festivities.
The Commander, a freshwater crayfish, grooms his large claw in preparation for Tuesday’s festivities.

Amuseum Naturalis will be highlighting wetland-related exhibits and films for World Wetlands Day on Tuesday, February 2, from 6-10pm. The museum is located at 96 Boulevard de Grand Case and admission is free.

In the main exhibition hall, visitors can immerse themselves in St. Martin’s fascinating freshwater ecosystems at the Gut Life exhibit. Live freshwater critters—from snails and insects to fish and crayfish—are on display. A companion film, also titled Gut Life, will be showing in the free Amuseum Naturalis theater in English and French.

The photo essay Shadow of a Drought, featured in the museum’s special exhibit space, showcases the impact of drought on St. Martin’s wetlands. The exhibit has been extended for a week in honor of World Wetlands Day.

“Wetlands are critical to the well-being of both humans and a huge variety of native plants and animals and we are excited to participate in a worldwide celebration of wetlands,” commented Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “Hosting an event at Amuseum Naturalis during the Mardis de Grand Case street fair is the perfect opportunity to share St. Martin’s important wetland environments with both tourists and locals.”

“The Commander is ready,” added Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes, referring to the freshwater crayfish residing in the Gut Life exhibit. “As the top predator in both his aquarium and in local freshwater habitats, he is prepared to be an excellent ambassador for the wetlands at this special event.”

February 2nd of each year is World Wetlands Day. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Friend or Foe?

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What we hoped would be a new friend for our aquarium buddies seems to have struck a nerve with The Commander. Is the river goby a threat to his dominance in the tank? An attempted claw-pinch indicates that he thinks so at the very least. Will everyone still be there in the morning? Stay tuned to find out!

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