Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

Key area Caribbean

Studying the rich biodiversity and functioning of the tropical region

The six islands and large sea area of the Dutch Caribbean are home to a rich biodiversity, including coral reefs. NIOZ is active in this tropical region with a range of research projects, working with local partner institutes.

The Dutch Caribbean covers an area of roughly 81,000 km2 (EEZ) and consists of six islands with a special status within the Netherlands:

  • Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are independent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands;
  • Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire are special municipalities of the Netherlands (since 2010).

The area also includes a large submerged carbonate platform, the Saba bank, of ca. 2,600 km2.

The Dutch Caribbean islands and Saba Bank are home to a rich tropical biodiversity. They harbour high-biodiversity coral reefs, sponge-dominated reefs, sea grass and benthic macroalgae-dominated areas, lagoons, shallow inland bays and mangroves.

The area is home to and a migratory stopover for species such as sharks, whales, sea turtles, rays and dolphins, as well as many seabirds and more than 350 species of fish.

NIOZ in the Dutch Caribbean

NIOZ has been active in the Dutch Caribbean since 1957, when the CARMABI Research Station was officially opened. This institute was financially supported by NIOZ until the mid-1980s. It currently runs independently, but continues to host NIOZ scientists and students.

On St Eustatius the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI) enabled by NIOZ was opened in 2014.

Research projects

NIOZ conducts a range of research projects in the Dutch Caribbean, involving different NIOZ departments. Current research includes:

  • Projects studying shifts in tropical coral reef communities and the functioning of coral reef ecosystems in a changing environment, including a long-time series on Bonaire and Curacao.
  • Projects related to the development of seagrass meadows, benthic macroalgae and mangrove forest habitats.
  • Culturing tropical foraminifera to determine the relation between environmental conditions and carbonate chemistry.

News and updates

Monday 21 October 2019
Menselijke invloed hindert groei van koraalriffen rond Bonaire
Het koraalrif rond Bonaire staat bekend als één van de gezondste van het Caribisch gebied. Uit nieuw onderzoek door Wageningen Marine Research/NIOZ blijkt echter dat een groot deel van deze riffen er niet goed voor staat: de meeste ondiepe delen…