The Invaders Launched

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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Special Exhibit Launching Tuesday

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.

World Wetlands Day

Thanks to everyone who came by for World Wetlands Day! It was great to be able to share some of the most fascinating facets of St. Martin’s wetlands with hundreds of locals and visitors. We feel very lucky to have a space where the local community can participate in international events like this. Here are a few photos from last night.

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Focus on Wetlands

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?

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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Scrub Island Rescue

World premiere January 26th at Amuseum Naturalis.
World premiere January 26th at Amuseum Naturalis.

The world premiere of the new Les Fruits de Mer movie, Scrub Island Rescue, will take place tomorrow. Learn a little bit about this rarely-visited island and find out who—or what—was rescued at the Amuseum Naturalis theater tomorrow evening. Check out the trailer below and visit us tomorrow for Mardi de Grand Case.

TV Debut for the Big C

The Commander. On television.
The Commander. On television.

We are excited to announce that the apex predator and exhibit cornerstone known everywhere as The Commander made his TV debut on Guadeloupe 1ère this week during a news feature about Amuseum Naturalis. Many other, less interesting, things were also featured, such as exhibits that don’t feature The Commander.



Museum Babies

Our newest arrivals!
Our newest arrivals!

One other event of note that happened at Amuseum Naturalis was a birth. In fact, a lot of them. A shrimp that has had a large cluster of eggs under her tail for the past couple weeks gave birth to a bajillion tiny shrimplets. The shrimplets were about as big as grains of sand, so it was a little tricky to photograph them, but here are a few shots of them and their proud mom.

Grand Opening

President and General Director of Delta Petroleum Christian Papaliolios cut the ribbon to officially open Amuseum Naturalis. (Photo: Maël Renault)
President and General Director of Delta Petroleum Christian Papaliolios cut the ribbon to officially open Amuseum Naturalis. (Photo: Maël Renault)

Hundreds of island residents and visitors poured into 96 Boulevard de Grand Case on Tuesday evening during the first Mardi de Grand Case for the grand opening of Amuseum Naturalis. Amuseum Naturalis is a free, public pop-up museum showcasing the natural history of St. Martin and the Caribbean, created by the Les Fruits de Mer association. Locals and tourists of all ages are invited to discover captivating natural history displays, biological curiosities, marvels of nature, spectacular specimens, live wildlife displays, a theater showing wildlife films, and more, throughout high season 2016 in this one-of-a-kind exhibition space.

Christian Papaliolios, President and General Director of Delta Petroleum, the sponsor of Amuseum Naturalis, officially opened the museum with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6pm on Tuesday, accompanied by Mardis de Grand Case organizer Chantal Vernusse, and Les Fruits de Mer officers and volunteers. The space for the temporary museum was donated for the 2016 high season to the Les Fruits de Mer association by Papaliolios and Delta Petroleum.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have been given the opportunity to bring Amuseum Naturalis to life, and see everybody enjoying it,” said Mark Yokoyama, Les Fruits de Mer co-founder and Amuseum co-curator. “It would not have been possible without all the hard work of our awesome volunteers, who came together to help create this incredible place, building and painting display tables and benches, and putting together these amazing exhibitions,” added the Amuseum’s other co-curator, Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes.

On display now at Amuseum Naturalis are exhibits on St. Martin’s bats, the endangered native Gaïac tree, insects that help keep the island clean, and “Gut Life: the Fascinating Freshwater Ecosystems of St. Martin.” The Amuseum’s special exhibits room is currently featuring an exclusive show of stunning original photographs and text from the photo essay Shadow of a Drought by nature photographer Yokoyama, highlighting the effects of drought on key St. Martin wetlands. Also on view is the first installment of “Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean,” a unique series that reveals and celebrates the often hidden, suppressed, or not widely known historical contributions of women and people of color to the study of Caribbean flora and fauna.

“We hope everyone will stop by every Tuesday during Mardis de Grand Case to see what’s happening at the Amuseum,” said Yerkes. “We’ll have new wonders every week!”