Naturalist Launches Unique New Wildlife Guide in a Modern Spin on an Old Caribbean Tradition

The fascinating fauna of one tiny Caribbean island can now be explored by people around the globe, thanks to naturalist, author and wildlife photographer Mark Yokoyama.  

Yokoyama officially released the second edition of his book The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin, showcasing an astounding array of animals from the tropic isle of St. Martin/St. Maarten. The guide features over 500 stunning color photographs and profiles hundreds of species, from mammals and birds to insects and spiders, some of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. This unique work also features special sections on local ecology and the history of biology on the island–a captivating who’s who of Caribbean researchers, explorers, and naturalists reaching back to the mid-1600s.

"Non-scientists contributed much of what we know about Caribbean biology," says Yokoyama. "It’s a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and never stopped. Although they are seldom recognized, dozens of doctors, clergy, teachers and military officers contributed a great deal to our understanding of local wildlife and many other subjects." Their work, as well as Yokoyama’s guide, would be described today as citizen science, a rapidly growing phenomenon of scientific research done by nonprofessional scientists.

Though Yokoyama views his guide as part of this long Caribbean tradition, in many ways the book is also a quintessentially contemporary project. Yokoyama used the website to crowdsource funding to print the volume, and has made a full electronic version available for free on the book’s website. And unlike the work of history’s many unsung Caribbean naturalists, Yokoyama’s book is already receiving high praise from many in the scientific community. Biologist and ecologist Dr. James "Skip" Lazell has called it "the best, and most complete, natural history book I have read about any single Caribbean island."

The book launch event was held July 23rd at the Jubilee Library in Philipsburg. Copies of the book were presented to representatives from many organizations doing conservation, education and public service on the island, including Nature Foundation St. Maarten, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean, St. Maarten Heritage Foundation, Pride Foundation, SIMARC, St. Martin Trails and the Rotary Club of St. Maarten. Minister of Education Patricia Lourens-Philip was also present. A presentation describing five reasons why the study of wildlife on St. Martin is fascinating was delivered by the author.

The publication of the book is just the beginning for Yokoyama, whose mission is make knowledge about wildlife and natural heritage freely accessible to everyone. He recently launched a wildlife education program to teach students on the island about local fauna and promote wildlife awareness among locals and tourists. He is also working on a French-language edition of the book. To learn more about Yokoyama’s work and download a free electronic version of the guide, visit The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin is available on