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.

Bat Seriously


The world premiere film at the Amuseum Naturalis theater this Tuesday will take you somewhere really cool. Actually, it’s hot and smelly, but also pretty cool. Learn about one of St. Martin’s most unique habitats in To the Bat Cave!

Of course, if you can’t make it to Amuseum Naturalis because you’re busy or you live thousands of miles away, don’t worry. We will be posting the video on this site right after the world premiere.

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!”

The Commander

Meet The Commander.
Meet The Commander.

Who is The Commander? He’s onne of many species of crayfish that live in St. Martin’s streams and, we predict, the breakout star of the upcoming exhibit “Gut Life: The Fascinating Freshwater Ecosystems of St. Martin” at Amuseum Naturalis. The largest species of crayfish are considered the top predators in their ecosystem, and we can certainly attest that the Commander is the apex predator of the Amuseum’s freshwater aquarium. The Commander enjoys intimidating others, cleaning his giant claw, and ruthlessly killing and eating anything smaller than him, including other crayfish.