The significance of Little Bay Pond

The significance of Little Bay Pond

By Rueben Thompson,

Vice President of Enviromental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation

The Welgelegen Pond or Little Bay Pond as it is commonly known, played an essential role in Sint Maarten’s History, particularly in the survival of our ancestors who were enslaved on plantations such as Industry, Golden Rock and Welgelegen.

“Welgelegen Fresh Pond was used for the breeding of fresh water fish, crayfish, crabs, waterfowls ...etc”. “Welgelegen was a Food Pond. It used to produce food to feed at least 91 slaves. In times of food scarcity, much of Sint Maarten’s population could count and rely on the pond for their survival.

Welgelegen Pond was also of great importance during dry periods. In times of drought, Welgelegen pond functioned as a water reserve for water used in irrigation and for washing, drinking… etc” (Report History and Ownership of Plantation Welgelegen and Little Bay Pond, W.A. Patrick, Stichting Kadaster, St. Maarten, 2001).

Welgelegen or Little Bay Pond is also an internationally recognised Important Bird Area (IBA). This IBA is situated in the middle of the south coast of St. Maarten, near the capital of Philipsburg (Great Bay). Little Bay Pond is approximately 2.5 kilometres in diameter and has low salinity (4-8 parts per thousand).

The IBA is bordered by aquatic grasses and red, black and white mangrove trees. The surrounding areas support shrubland. A path encircles the pond connecting to the sea at the rocky shore of Little Bay with a small outlet running from the pond into the ocean.

The Pond serves as a breeding and nesting site for the Near Threatened Caribbean Coot (Caribaea fulica) the presence of this population makes Little Bay Pond highly significant. Other regionally limited species found at this site include Green-throated Carib Eulampis holosericeus, Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus, Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus, and Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis.

Little Bay Pond is one of just five Important Bird Areas on St. Maarten under the Birdlife International protocol of important bird areas in the Caribbean. For more information, see, and

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