St. John News and Happenings

Cruz Bay, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)Government evicts St. John Taxi Association from Cruz Bay property
By JENNY KANE (Daily News Staff)
Published: September 27, 2013

ST. THOMAS – For almost a decade, taxi drivers on St. John have been paying dues into the pockets of a taxi organization that has had no license to operate and now has no place to operate.

The St. John Taxi Association, founded in 2002, has been collecting between $5 and $8 from several dozen drivers daily – $5 for members and $8 for non-members – who use the property that the association oversees.

It also has been collecting $10 monthly fees from members.

Where those collections have gone is a mystery, as the V.I. Property and Procurement Department said that the association has missed many of its $400 monthly lease payments in recent years, according to Andre Malone, community outreach liaison for Sen. Clarence Payne III.

Drivers who are not members of the St. John Taxi Association said they are bullied and harassed by the organization and are being unfairly denied access.

Payne’s office alerted a number of agencies to the matter in recent months, and now the agencies are looking into it, realizing that issues with the association have been swept under the rug for years.

Neither the V.I. Lt. Governor’s Office nor the V.I. Taxi Cab Commission has records of the association’s finances, nor does the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.

The association received a letter from Property and Procurement on Aug. 29 stating that the association needs to vacate the 3,400-square-foot property that it occupies.

The deadline to leave: today…. read more

St. John Live Music Tonight September

The Beach Bar – BROTHER NATURE!!!- 8pm
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St. John News & Happenings

Iguana

St. John Virgin Islands News and Happenings

Tonight September 27

The Beach Bar
BROTHER NATURE!!!- 8pm

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Crab Races with the Crabmon

Press Release
Woody’s Seafood Saloon will be hosting the 4th Annual “Help Save Second Base” Block Party, October 18th from 6 pm till 11pm. All proceeds go to the St. John Cancer Fund. Inner Visions will be performing, DJ, Raffles & the return of the wing eating contest. Don’t miss this kick off to season event!

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Maho Bay Snorkel

One of my favorite snorkeling spots on St. John is the shallow grassy areas just off the beach at Maho Bay. Although not as colorful and lively as the coral reef environment, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on here. With a little patience I can just about guarantee that you’ll come across a sea turtle or two and stingrays. Other sea creatures that abound here are stingrays, conch and squid.

Maho Bay Snorkel

St. John Sea Creatures: Turtle
Turtle and Remoras

Baby Conch at Maho Bay
Baby Conch

Turtle
Green Sea Turtle

Crab
Crab

baby porcupine fish
Baby Porcupine Fish

St. John Marine Life: Squid
Squid


Southern Stingray, Dasyatis americana

Squid

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Night Blooming Cerius (Hylocereus undatus)

St. John Flora: Night Blooming CeriusThe night blooming cerius flowers growing on the perimeter of my yard opened last night. You can literally watch them open; the whole process lasting less than an hour.

There’s also some that are staring to put out fruit that I’m watching, hoping t defeat the thrushies (evil birds) in the quest for the prized pitaya fruit, locally called chickenettes.

The night blooming cerius, once quite common on the drier parts of St. John are disappearing rapidly with the development of new homes and where landscaping decisions usually favor the introduction of plants from Miami nurseries over the native vegetation, a big mistake, in my opinion. However, I still know where to find some and if I get up earlier than the early birds, can still harvest some fruit.

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The queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula) Ol’ Wife

St. John Sea Creatures: Ol' Wife
Ol’ Wife

Queen Triggerfish

Back in my fishing days, we used to bring in a considerable amount of Queen Triggerfish, locally called Ol’ Wife. It was a species that some people wanted to buy and some didn’t. The difference, I believe, was the nature of the Ol’ Wife’s extremely tough skin. To prepare it it needed to be skinned, not scaled. It was one of those things that some people could do easily and others found difficult.

There was also the controversy as to whether or not it was permitted by Old Testament law, observed by Seventh Day Adventists, Jews and Muslims which prohibit eating fish that lack fins and scales. Although the Queen Triggerfish appears to have skin and not scales, in actuality, they do have tiny scales over their tough skin. There weren’t too many Jews and Muslims in St. John in those days and I suspect that the few that were here weren’t that observant to dietary law, but there was a certain controversy as to the fish’s acceptability as an appropriate food as outlined in the Bible, among the Seventh Day Adventists, who did make up a sizable minority.

In those days, fish were sold strapped to a tyre palm leaf and the strap was mixed. Because of the Ol’Wife skin or scales controversy I never added them to a strap.

Scales or no scales, the fish needed to be skinned, because their skin is too tough to eat; so tough that Ol’ Wife skin was used by many in those backtime days for scrubbing pots and pans.

Nonetheless, once you removed the skin, the Ol’ Wife made a tasty soup and one of the tastiest Ol’ Wife soups could be found at Eric Christian’s restaurant, Eric’s Hilltop, located where the legislative building is now. So, in less I had a specific request, all my Ol’ Wife went to Eric and O’l Wife soup was on the menu just about every day at lunchtime.

The Queen Triggerfish was plentiful in those days, but not so much anymore and is currently listed as “Vulnerable” with the World Conservation Union (IUCN)

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Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) at Maho Bay, St. John

St. John Sea Creatures: Green Sea TurtleUnlike other members of its family, such as the hawksbill sea turtle, C. mydas is mostly herbivorous. The adults usually inhabit shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of seagrasses.

Like other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Many islands worldwide are known as Turtle Island due to green sea turtles nesting on their beaches. Females crawl out on beaches, dig nests and lay eggs during the night. Later, hatchlings emerge and scramble into the water. Those that reach maturity may live to eighty years in the wild.

C. mydas is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries.[7] It is illegal to collect, harm or kill them. In addition, many countries have laws and ordinances to protect nesting areas. However, turtles are still in danger because of several human practices. In some countries, turtles and their eggs are hunted for food. Pollution indirectly harms turtles at both population and individual scales. Many turtles die caught in fishing nets. Also, real estate development often causes habitat loss by eliminating nesting beaches…. read entire Wikipedia Article

St. John News

Stay in a Virgin Island castle to benefit Haiti
By Susan S. Lang

There is a castle in the Virgin Island sky that “Jack” built. Over the years, Jonathan Back has donated more than a dozen free weeks at Castle St. John (www.castlestjohn.com/) to benefit local nonprofits, including the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, Learning Web, Love Knows No Bounds, Light on the Hill, E.A.C. Montessori School of Ithaca, Tikkun V’Or, WSKG radio and more.

But last year, Back discovered a nonprofit on the impoverished island of Haiti that made him “believe in angels on earth.” Sonje Ayiti (“remember Haiti’ in Creole) was doing such fine community work in health care, education, and economic development that Back wanted to help (www.sonjeayiti.com).

“I know it’s different from helping our local community,” said Back, “but I think of Haiti as our neighbor, too.” Haiti is the poorest of neighbors, and a far cry from the affluence in the island of St John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, east of St. Thomas. A large portion of St. John is a national park.

So Back created a contest in which the grand prizewinner will win a free week at Castle St. John, including airfare. The project is his way of turning a personal and valuable asset into a way to benefit Haiti. Back is part of a growing group of “boomers” who want to use their assets for social justice. He not only hopes to use the raffle to inspire donations to a terrific nonprofit, but also as a model for others to turn their personal assets (wealth, skills, property, influence) into mini-social entrepreneurships.

“There are 600 vacation rentals on St. John alone that have vacancies all the time. If their affluent owners would donate a week or two a year to a nonprofit, think of all the money that could be raised,” said Back. “And that’s just one tiny island, and one useful idea out of thousands.”

Make a donation, get a raffle ticket at Guitar Works, Karma Salon, Toko Imports, Hairy Canary, Sundries (in Trumansburg), and The Vintage Industry (next to State Theatre).

You can also make a donation online at raffle4castle.com, or directly to Sonje Ayiti Organization, www.sonjeayiti.com/donate. If you let Jonathan know how much you donated at jhb27@cornell.edu , he will give you your raffle ticket numbers.

Prizes: The first prize is a week at the Castle (could be for two couples) airfare with two round-trips from a USAir hub. You can also add a wedding or vow renewal ceremony at the Castle or on the beach with Rev Ann Marie Porter (“the Barefoot Reverend”) officiating. There are over a dozen other prizes.

Back founded the local store 3-D Light and the café in the New Alexandrian Bookstore. He is a director of gratefulness.org, a board member of CRESP (now Cornell’s Center for Transformative Action), and a builder in New Orleans and Owego for Love Knows No Bounds.

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Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus)

St. John Sea Creatures: Tarpon and Fry
A tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) swims through a school of fry on St. John’s south shore

“Tarpons are large fish of the genus Megalops; one species is native to the Atlantic, and the other to the Indo-Pacific Oceans. They are the only members of the family Megalopidae…

“… Tarpons grow to about four to eight feet long and weigh 60–280 lbs. They have dorsal and anal soft rays and have bluish or greenish backs. Tarpons possess distinctive lateral lines and have shiny, silvery scales that cover most of their bodies, excluding the head. They have large eyes with adipose eyelids and broad mouths with prominent lower jaws that jut out farther than the rest of the face.

“… Megalops is considered one of the great saltwater game fishes. They are prized not only because of their great size, but also because of the fight they put up and their spectacular leaping ability. They are bony fish and their meat is not desirable, so most are released after they are caught. Numerous tournaments around the year are focused on catching tarpon… read more from Wikipedia

Harvest Moon Tonight
The Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, will rise over St. John at 6:24 AST tonight

St. John News & Happenings

Undercurrents: Researchers Plumb Depths to Improve Fisheries
By Bernetia Akin — September 16, 2013

… David Olsen doesn’t know what happened to more than 4,000 yellowtail snappers fisherman tagged and released in the waters around St. Thomas and St. John as part of a study begun two years ago. Not one has shown up again – dead or alive.

And all the educated guesses one might make don’t make sense either. The species might be highly migratory, for instance, but past studies don’t suggest that. The tagging might weaken the fish and make them more vulnerable, but the few tagged yellowtail that were sent to Coral World Marine Park had no such problems. Nor have other subjects.

In a 30-plus year career, Olsen, who holds a doctorate in fishery management, hasn’t seen another study that ended in more mystery than the yellowtail research. Funded with a federal grant, the study was conducted by the St. Thomas Fishermen’s Association. Olsen is the association’s chief scientist.…

… In an effort largely paralleling the yellowtail study, fishermen tagged some 4,000 spiny lobsters caught and released in St. Thomas waters. But they had much better luck with the lobsters.

About 350 of them were re-caught, Olsen said. By comparing their size, weight and location between the two captures, researchers were able to learn some new things about their habits, and to document information that was only suspected before.

The peak reproduction period is from March through July, he said. That’s when fishermen found the most lobsters bearing eggs. Further, they caught the most juveniles in September, October and November. It takes about a year and a half for a spiny lobster to grow to adulthood, Olsen said.

The study suggests that lobsters don’t travel much. Although “we’ve had recaptures up to 15 miles” away from the first capture, he said most of the animals were found within a mile of their first encounter with STFA.

Olsen theorizes that the lobsters are drawn not so much by the bait the traps contain – typically old cow skins – as by the shelter they provide. Lobsters don’t like to be exposed, and the traps, set between reefs, offer attractive cover.

The study also led STFA to make a population estimate of 410,000 spiny lobsters in St. Thomas/St. John waters. Olsen said fisherman sell about 50,000 to 60,000 of them each year.

The annual quota for lobsters, set by the Fisheries Council, is not by number but by weight. Currently, the quota for St. Thomas is a total of 105,000 pounds. Olsen believes the study supports raising that quota by up to 15,000 pounds.

He sees things differently for St. Croix. Preliminary findings indicated that the average size of lobsters caught in St. Croix waters has dropped by a centimeter, suggesting that the volume of lobster fishing in that area “is putting a lot of pressure on the resource.”

Fish traps represent the most popular type of fishing in St. Thomas waters, accounting for 450,000 pounds of fish a year. In contrast, hard lines bring in about 110,000 pounds, and seine nets, about 100,000 pounds….

Coastweeks clean-up program begins Saturday
Daily News Staff)
Published: September 16, 2013

The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority is partnering with the University of the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service Division and the Friends of the National Park by being a part of the 28th Annual Ocean Conservancy Coastweeks International Coastal Clean Up. Coastweeks clean-up activities begin Saturday and run thruough Oct. 31….

…Drunk Bay on St. John, 9 a.m. Volunteers: Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, UVI and Friends of the Community.is Virgin Islands Day at Yankee Stadium

To plan or participate in a clean-up, contact Kayla Tennant on St. Thomas at 998-5787 or ktennent@alumni.flager.edu; Marcia Taylor on St. Croix at 692-4046 or mtaylor@uvi.edu; or Karen Jarvis on St. John at 779-4940 or kjarvis@friendsvinp.org. … read more

Virgin Islands Day at Yankee Stadium
By Source Staff — September 17, 2013

In an effort to support increased air service and engage thousands of potential travelers in the territory’s top market, New York, the Tourism Department launched a marketing partnership with the New York Yankees to boost travel to the territory this fall and winter. The three-week promotion began Aug. 30 and will lead up to Sunday’s special USVI Day at Yankee Stadium….

 

 

 

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St. John News & Happenings


Ezius Ashley snorkels through a coral arch at Yawzi Point

St. John News

Sisters donate 4 acres of land on St. John’s East End to UVI
Daily News Staff)
Published: September 16, 2013

Marva Samuel Applewhite and Gloria Samuel, daughters of James Alphonso “Harry” Samuel, who owned Estate Zootenvaal on St. John’s East End have donated 4 acres of land to the University of the Virgin Islands.

The land in Estate Zootenvaal, worth an appraised value of $740,000, is next to two acres the sisters donated to UVI in 2002.

“Education has been the number one priority for our family,” Applewhite said at Wednesday’s reception at UVI’s Academic Center on St. John. Applewhite and her sister are both retired teachers.

“We decided to give back to the people of the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and the world,” she said.

Both UVI President David Hall and UVI Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dionne Jackson remarked on the sisters’ humility.

“They did not make this gift because they wanted public recognition or boast about their family’s largess,” Jackson said. “They wanted to be a part of UVI’s next 50 years of service to the Virgin Islands and St. John communities.”

Hall said initial plans are to build a cultural center on the property to preserve the history of St. John.

US Virgin Islands to build bird observation pier at sanctuary
By Associated Press, Published: September 16
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — The U.S. Virgin Islands is building a new observation pier at a wildlife sanctuary in St. John for bird lovers.

Gov. John de Jongh Jr. said late Friday that the local Audubon Society will help build the pier at the Frank Bay Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. The site draws thousands of tourists a year.

For the first time, the pier will also give visitors a full view of the area’s pond near Cruz Bay.

Park Friends to Hold Paddle the Park Race
By Lynda Lohr — September 15, 2013

Friends of V.I. National Park have announced plans for their latest fund-raising effort, Paddle the Park, and registration opens Monday for the Nov. 3 event.

The event will use stand-up paddle boards on an open course that will run about three miles from Maho Bay to Whistling Cay. The Elite course will begin at Maho Bay, go around Whistling Cay, around Cinnamon Cay, back to Whistling Cay and on to Maho Bay, for a distance of about 5.5 miles.

The race is slated to begin at 9 a.m. and organizers expect it to end between 11 a.m. and noon. A party will follow at Maho Bay pavilion.

Phone and in-person registration begins Monday, with online registration starting Friday. Those interested also can register in person at the Friends of the Park store in Mongoose Junction shopping center, at Connections in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, as well as at Caribbean Surf. Co. in Havensight Mall or Red Hook, both on St. Thomas.

Those who sign up before Nov. 1 will pay $60 for adults and $30 for youths younger that 18. Late registration runs until 2 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Friends of the Park store. It is $80 for adults and $50 for youths under 18.

There will be no registration the day of the event.

The registration fee includes a water-friendly rash guard that must be worn during the race, a goodie bag and the party picnic lunch.

More information is available at www.friendsvinp.org/paddle. The website includes narrated video maps of the race courses.

The Friends can be reached at 1-340-779-4940.

 

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Caribbean Lobsters and Gorgonians

Lobster Hole on St. John’s East End

St. John Sea Creatures: Lobsters
Panulirus argus, the Caribbean spiny lobster

Gorgonians

Why are some corals flourishing in a time of global warming?
A new study investigates why gorgonian corals, which can form a ‘canopy’ over reefs, appear to be proliferating in certain places

By Charlotte Hsu
Release Date: September 10, 2013
BUFFALO, N.Y. — As Earth’s temperature climbs, the stony corals that form the backbone of ocean reefs are in decline.

It’s a well-documented story: Violent storms and coral bleaching have all contributed to dwindling populations, and increasing acidity of seawater threatens to take an additional toll.

Less discussed, however, is the plight of gorgonian corals — softer, flexible, tree-like species that can rise up like an underwater forest, providing a canopy beneath which small fish and aquatic life of all kinds can thrive.

Divers have noted in recent years that gorgonian corals seem to be proliferating in certain areas of the Caribbean, even as their stony counterparts struggle…. read more

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Trumpetfish

St. John Marine Life Trumpet fish
Trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus

The trumpetfish is a master of camouflage. In this photo you can barely see it hiding amidst the coral. It’s lying in wait for a small fish to come close at which time it will suck it up into its mouth.  (He might be hiding from me also)

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