The five-square-mile island of Saba, 28 miles from St. Maarten and the smallest of the Dutch Caribbean islands, is hosting its 17th annual Sea and Learn event this month to promote environmental awareness of the destination's tropical forests, hiking trails and scuba and snorkel sites.

Visitors can team up with a roster of naturalists, scientists and academic experts doing field work on a wide range of activities that include observing birds at nesting sites, analyzing the effects of oil spills on the marine ecosystem and observing vines that threaten to strangle the natural terrain.

Large-screen presentations and lectures are offered nightly to supplement the field work.

"In 2018 more than 1,500 people personally attended the event but more than 15,000 experienced it when the experiences were streamed," said Lynn Costenaro, founder and president of Sea and Learn.

This year the presentations are being livestreamed on Facebook and on YouTube by Chizzzilala Productions "so that viewers can virtually experience each nighttime presentation with high quality sound and video," she said.

While there are no accommodations packages for visitors interested in attending this event, there is no charge for the Sea and Learn activities. Visitors can look at the calendar of daily events and choose to visit the island or view the presentations.

For example, Chelsea Black is part of a team from the University of Miami Shark Research and Conservation Program studying shark immunology with a focus on the micro organizations they host.

Visitors can help Black in her research by joining her on a dive expedition to swab sharks and learn more about these microbes.

Black will make a presentation on Oct. 29 to discuss how this research may lead to a cancer cure and other health solutions for humans.

The visiting experts are also working with the Saba Conservation and Child Focus School Program to teach students the value of Saba's natural resources and their importance to the region. 

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