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Archive for September, 2011

Mangrove Snorkel at Hurricane Hole, St. John, Virgin Islands (USVI)

St. John Snorkeling: Water Creek

Water Creek, Hurricane Hole

It’s been sometime since I’ve snorkeled the mangroves at Hurricane Hole and I was pleasantly surprised at how little has changed since my last visit. The coral was still healthy, the sponges colorful, the fish plentiful. The above video and still photos were taken at the little indented bay within a bay at Water Creek at Hurricane Hole.

St. John Snorkeling: Mangrove fringe Forest

Mangroves Fringe Forest

The three bays within St. John’s Hurricane Hole, Water Creek, Otter Creek and Princess Bay all offer excellent opportunities to snorkel along a mangrove fringe forest in very comfortable conditions.

Mangrove Snorkel Water Creek, St. John

Brain Coral

Conch

Fireworm

Fish

Pink Sponge

Red Sponge

Sea Cucumber

Fireworm

 Fireworm
“Effect on Divers: When disturbed display bristles, which can easily penetrate and break off in skin, causing a painful burning sensation and irritating wound.”
Reef Creature Identification, by Paul Human
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ST. JOHN FILM – PRESS RELEASE

Free Movie Night: FREE SWIM Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 7:30 PM, St. John School of the Arts, Cruz Bay.

St. John Film Society will open its fall 2011 film series with a free screening of the award winning documentary FREE SWIM, a 50 minute documentary directed by Jennifer Galvin.

The film is about the paradox of Caribbean coastal people not knowing how to swim. Taking place on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas we follow a group of kids as they overcome their fears, and reconnect with their environment by learning to swim in open waters. With fresh memories of a friend drowning and the conflicts of growing tourism, for these kids it’s not just about floating, but gaining new skills for their future.

In the U.S. about 60% of ethnically diverse children are unable to swim and African-American children drown at three times the rate of Caucasian children. FREE SWIM uses the topic of learning to swim as a way to explore more complicated aspects of life on Eleuthera, such as influences on community function by the media, drowning, tourism, overfishing, and education. The story thread is woven with footage of children learning to swim in their backyard sea. Underwater footage shows the challenges of learning to breathe in a new environment and the powers of discovering a beautiful, new world.

The post film discussion will discuss St. John programs that teach our youth how to swim. Featured guests include Dean Doeling, “Using Sport for Social Change” and the ‘Just Swim’ event and Laurel Brannick, champion of the VI National Park ‘Learn to Swim’ program.

The challenges of learning to swim on St. John are similar to those on Eleuthera and of interest to parents, visitors and everyone who enjoys our ocean waters as a playground.

St. John Weather Update
Plenty of thunderstorms with some cloud to ground lightning throughout last night associated with a low pressure system. At 6:30 this morning it’s partly cloudy and breezy. TS Ophelia is expected to effect our weather on Sunday.

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Trunk Bay Underwater Trail: Barracuda

Barracuda

Trunk Bay Barracuda

teeth

Every once and a while I like to check out the Trunk Bay Underwater Trail. It’s not the most colorful reef close to the St. John shoreline, but it does have the advantage of being right off of beautiful Trunk Bay. Moreover, whenever I put on my mask fins and snorkel and dive into the clear blue waters of St. John, wherever it may be, I’m almost guaranteed to see something very cool and this time was no different.

First, there was that big old barracuda hoovering seemingly suspended from the one big healthy elkhorn coral on the reef. It even opened its mouth and showed me its big old sharp teeth.

Trunk Bay squid

Squid on the Trunk Bay Underwater Trail

Then there was the school of squid, one of which let me in close for some cool photos.

TS Ophelia Update
The somewhat unreliable five-day forecast shows Ophelia turning northwest and passing by well to the north of St. John. Ophelia is presently packing sustained winds of 60 mph with gusts of 70 mph. She is moving west at 16 mph and is predicted to be nearest the Virgin Islands sometime Sunday afternoon. The storm is not predicted to strengthen over the next five days.

 

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Summer Doldrums
It’s pretty quiet here on St. John. Several restaurants are closed and many residents are off island taking vacations or using the downtime for home and business maintenance.

The Marketplace is resurfacing the entrance to the shopping mall making the hill from the main road less of an incline and improving traction for vehicles entering the parking lot. The work is progressing rapidly and should be complete shortly.

There has been a significant amount of rain and the cisterns should be full or nearly so. The hillsides are lush and green. On the other side of that coin, some low pressure systems are developing off the coast of Africa, which bear watching.

 

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This morning feels more like a tropical storm than any time during the passage of Maria with numerous rain squall, gusty winds, choppy seas and even breaking ground seas wrapping around to the the southern facing bays of Chocolate Hole and Great Cruz Bay.

Between the stormy weather and the slack tourist hurricane season, St. John has taken on a sleepy, tranquility uncharacteristic even for sleepy tranquil St. John.

Feels good!

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11:00 am tropical update from SeeStJohn and the Weather Underground

Maria gets depressed:
“Maria could become a tropical depression…

Maria waves goodbye:
“or degenerate to a tropical wave later today.

Good T’ing!
…Maria barely a tropical cyclone…warnings discontinued…

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St. John Flora: Vanda orchid

Vandaceous (Vanda) Orchid

The good news this morning is that my Vanda orchid, the species that blooms in full sunshine, is in beautiful bloom. It’s almost 7:00 am and the sun is shining and the seas are calm.

The not so good news s that TS Maria is heading our way, the center of which is due to pass quite close to St. John sometime after midnight tonight. The better news is that we should be on the weak side of the storm and that there shouldn’t be any significant intensification in the next day or so.

Nonetheless, we’re under a flash flood and tropical storm warning:

“Wind…tropical storm conditions are expected to spread over the Lesser Antilles today and then over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by the end of the day.

Rainfall…Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches over the central to northern Lesser Antilles…the Virgin Islands…and Puerto Rico.

Storm surge…a storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1 to 2 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast within the warning area. Near the coast…the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves.”

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TS Maria

I left the St. John for a visit to America right after TS Irene, and she caught up with me as Hurricane Irene in NYC. Now I’m back on island and what do I see on the weather underground website, but another storm apparently headed our way. Presently, Tropical Storm Maria is forecast to be just a little to the northeast of St. John by late Saturday afternoon and then passing to our north.

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Brought to you by Gerald Singer, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)