New ebook about nature on Statia describes a possible new species
The free ebook ‘Wild Statia’ shows unique and incredible aspects of the wildlife on Statia. Naturalists Hannah Madden and Mark Yokoyama wrote the book. For the ebook several researches are conducted, with the discovery of a possibly new species: a soapberry bug. Specialized scientists worldwide are further investigating this particular bug.
By Daniëlle van Gils
Sint Eustatius - affectionately called Statia - is a small island of 21 square kilometers. "Despite this it boasts a wide variety of unique species”, says Madden. "The Lesser Antillean Iguana is one of those, and we are lucky to have a genetically pure population. Statia is one of the few remaining islands in the Caribbean that can say this.” Yokoyama adds: "There is a mix of species that doesn't occur on any other island, even though the individual species are found on other islands. It is a bit magical."
The new ebook shows several aspects of the wildlife on the island, from possible new species to the diversity of birds around towns and to Statia’s nocturnal life. In 15 chapters Madden and Yokoyama explore some of the mystery of the wildlife and capture the process of discovery. The book not only covers animal species, but gives a detailed look on connections between the landscape and wildlife. "I am very interested in the connections between history, culture and wildlife, like local names or stories about wildlife. These often reflect something about the wildlife and also something about the culture of the island”, Yokoyama says. "Personally, I really enjoy seeing animals and insects I haven't seen before and also behavior that is interesting, like how an animal hunts or defends a territory. "
As a co-production, the book is based on newspaper columns of Yokoyama in the St. Maarten The Daily Herald and includes new pieces of Madden as well. "The newspaper column has been a great way to generate interest in the project and give updates on our progress. Since this ebook doesn't have to be a field guide, we used it to focus on a smaller number of stories told in more detail”, Madden says.
You won’t always find what you are looking for
The first day of field research was one full with lessons for the naturalists. “You won’t always find what you are looking for, there is always something waiting to be found, and some of life’s most fascinating moments happen on a tiny scale”, they write in the book. Yokoyama: "One of my favorite discoveries were the abundance of spiders in the cliffs at Zeelandia beach. We went there looking for something else — birds, in fact — and ended up finding something totally unexpected.”
Another discovery is a soapberry bug, a small, orange, black and red bug, with a taste for the fruit of soapberry vines. "I'd tell you exactly what it is, but we don't know yet. I collected some specimens and they are being studied right now. Perhaps it will be a totally new species. That's exciting!” Yokoyama says.
The ebook is part of a research for a wildlife guide to Statia. Madden: "This will guide include all of the animals on the island, from birds and lizards to insects and snails.” Yokoyama adds: "I did a similar book on the wildlife of St. Martin and it was a really fun project and something that never existed for the island before. The same is true for Statia."
“We aim to document as many of the island’s species as possible”, Madden says. "Over the years I have worked extensively in the field with a variety of researchers and we have documented a number of 'new' (or unpublished) species, or species that have not been seen in a very long time, such as the Statia bee. We hope to include these in the book if we can find and photograph them!"
The project of the wildlife guide is managed by the non-profit association Les Fruits de Mer, with support from St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation and financial funding from NuStar Terminals N.V.
Top: Soapberry bug, by Mark Yokoyama
Middle: Dwarf Gecko, by Mark Yokoyama
Bottom: Lesser Antillean Iguana, by Hannah Madden
Date of publication: November 25, 2015