Tadzio Bervoets was born and raised on St. Maarten, where nature was his playground. From his first swimming and snorkeling lessons at age 7, Bervoets was entranced by coral reefs, fish and especially sharks. But as he grew up, became a professional diver and noticed negative changes along the reef, “the ocean became something more than recreation,” he says. “It became my passion.”
Now one of the leading conservationists in the Caribbean, Bervoets’ passion is his life’s work. He’s the managing director of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, which spearheaded the creation of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, St. Maarten’s first protected marine area. He is also director of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, where he coordinates regional and international efforts to protect the Caribbean’s fragile ecosystems. The DCNA drove the establishment of the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary around Saba and Bonaire.
In 2020, Bervoets co-founded the Caribbean Shark Coalition to increase and streamline the collection of data on sharks by organizations throughout the islands.
In recognition of his conservation work, Bervoets became the first Dutch Caribbean national to be inducted into the US-based Explorers Club. “As a kid, I followed the adventures of Thor Heyerdahl and Robert Peary and the great explorers of the past,” he says. “So to become a member of the Explorers Club was an honor and a privilege.”
What do you love about your work? I’m in one of the special and unique places on Earth, in terms of not only the environment and ecosystem but also history and culture. I’m fortunate, as someone born and raised in the Caribbean, to be part of its conservation movement. I invite everyone to visit St. Maarten and the wider Caribbean and explore off the beaten path.
Tadzio Bervoets’ Best Bets
Freedom Fighters Ital Shack (Philipsburg): It’s a Rastafarian restaurant with delicious, healthy food and awesome vibes.
Dinghy Dock Sailors Bar (Simpson Bay): It’s at the end of the airport runway. It’s laid-back, has fine bar food, and has one of the best beer selections on St. Maarten.
Man of War Shoal Marine Park: Naturally, my favorite dive site in the park is Proselyte Reef. It’s one of the healthiest reefs on the island with a good fish and turtle population.