Tuesday , March 28 2023

Sixteen orchids identified on Saba

SABA–The Sea and Learn activities last week were minimally perturbed by the passing of Tropical Storm Raphael.

Jennifer Rahn’s presentation on “Rising Up – the story of Saba’s seamounts and pinnacles” was held Tuesday, at the Shearwater hotel with a healthy turnout.
Rahn provided an extensive presentation of the formation and drifting of the Caribbean tectonic plate as well as the processes that led to the formation
of the islands. One remarkable aspect was how Saba’s underwater seamounts and pinnacles were discovered by Joan Bourque and her husband. The couple lived in Saba between 1982 and 1998, and with the help of local fishermen discovered, named and mapped Saba’s most dramatic underwater formations, which still drive Saba’s ecologically sustainable dive tourism.

The Bourques were among the first to establish dive tourism on the island and worked with the Marine Park to install moorings and set up a system to
protect the reef. On their departure, Sea- Saba’s current owner Lynn Costenaro took over their dive operation, as well as their passion for marine life conservation. Costenaro is one of the leading organisers of the decadelong annual Sea and Learn series.
Mike Bechtold’s presentation on the latest of Saba’s Orchids was held at Scout’s Place restaurant in Windwardside on Wednesday.

Mike Bechtold lecturing at Scout’s Place in Windwardside.
(Photo Daily Herald)

Highlight of the evening was the impressive progress achieved in the verified identification of 16 orchid species on Saba. Bechtold was a long-time assistant to orchid researcher Stewart Chipka, known as “Orchid Guy,” who passed away in October, 2010. With support of Saba Conservation Foundation, Bechtold since then preserved and furthered Chipka’s research, verifying the identities of orchid species and surveying the presence of each including the rare  rassavola cucullata.
Bechtold had been a US army officer for over 25 years. He developed a passion for orchids while stationed in South Korea in 1996, joining the American Orchid Society in 1998. He lives in Virginia, where he is involved in orchid conservation work at the US Botanic Garden, but he is more often than not on
Saba where he continues to work on the identification and preservation of local orchid species.

A biologist by training, former Saba Comprehensive School Principal Michiel Boeken picked up the work left by Chipka and together with Bechtold substantially raised the number of identified species from six to 16. Bechtold was instrumental in bringing the survey conducted on St. Eustatius by University of Puerto Rico on Brassavola cucullata to Saba as well. As a result, James Acherman and Raymond Tremblay helped in the correct identification
of the discovered species.
Nelly Pellison lectured on identifying migrating whales at Cottage Club in Windwardside on Friday. She is president of “Mon école, ma baleine” (My school, my whale) a nonprofit organisation that raises awareness about cetaceans by coordinating educational programmes and developing online tools. Pellison is involved in a new initiative of the Observatory on Marine Mammals in Guadeloupe. They have surveyed toothed and baleen whales around Saba, St. Maarten and Anguilla, and the presentation served as an added effort to enlist Saba’s support in identifying and photographing whale migration.

During the same evening, representatives of Johnson’s Enterprises, an Aruban family-owned company with family roots in Saba, presented on the benefits of Air Burners in garbage burning. They are the suppliers of Saba’s Air Burner installation, keen on proving why this is an optimal solution.

Source: The Daily herald October 22, 2012

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