The sheer restless energy, the breathtaking colour and beauty of a reef… Waves crash, currents drift, tides ebb…
Some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems exist within the Kingdom of the Netherlands — on the islands of the Dutch Caribbean. From pristine coral reefs to rare elfin cloud forest, the spectacular natural world of these six islands includes plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet.
The dazzling colours and flitting fish of fragile coral reefs. Waving beds of seagrass. Forests of mangrove. Primary and secondary rainforests. A cloud forest ecosystem that exists nowhere else on the planet. From desert to dry forest, reef to rainforest, these tiny islands are home to a wide range of ecosystems and numerous globally-endangered species, both plant and animal. The islands are breeding grounds for endangered sea turtles, home to the largest colony of southern Caribbean Flamingos in the Western Hemisphere, and a key stopover for migratory birds and marine mammals.
The greatest variety of marine plants anywhere in the Caribbean is found around the Dutch islands. The most endangered plant in the Dutch Kingdom, the Statia Morning Glory, lives only on the island of St. Eustatius. Two hundred species of plants, animals, and other organisms found on Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao exist only here. In addition, more than 35 globally-endangered or vulnerable species thrive in the Dutch Caribbean, including five species of marine turtle, bottlenose and spinner dolphins, and other marine mammals that thrive in the inshore waters. Scientists voyaging to the Saba Bank have even recently discovered new species of fish.
Each island has one or more protected areas, established between 1969 and 2000. These parks are the foundation for conservation efforts in the Dutch Caribbean. The parks provide goods and services that are intrinsically linked to the local economy, from generating tourism revenue to providing employment and fish catches.