Snorkeling at Maho Bay yesterday, I noticed this large barracuda apparently enjoying the shade under my boat. He or she, I wonder how one determines the gender of these creatures, had a good-sized fish in its mouth with the tail portion sticking out. Then a big bite, the tail went in, another bite and the fish was gone. Unfortunately, having just entered the water, my camera wasn’t ready and I didn’t get to record the event.
Valentine and I accompanied the photographer, Shaun O’Boyle, to Beverhoutsberg last Monday.
Shaun has a great collection of “off the beaten track” places – well worth a look. Check is photos out at off the beaten track” places at http://www.new.oboylephoto.com/
The last time I visited Beverhautsberg was three years ago. To get there you can access the Battery Gut just south of the Gifft Hill lower school in the narrow gut formed by a culvert. This approximately 50-foot section had sections where overgrown catch and keep vines made it challenging to get through. If you intend do this hike, I recommend you bring clippers (which I forgot to bring) and spend a little time clearing the way.
Once down to the gut the going was easy enough. I recommend bringing a smart phone loaded with the St. John Off The Beaten Track App to help find where the trail leaves the gut on the west side that leads to the Beverhoutsberg ruins.See 12/21/2013 Beverhoutsberg Blog
After big a rain a large puddle of water forms at the boat landing in Great Cruz Bay. At first I thought about mosquitoes breeding, but after looking at it I wondered if mosquito larva could survive in that mini-pond as it was host to hundreds of Cuban treefrog tadpoles.
The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) is native to Cuba, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. Here in the Virgin Islands they are considered an invasive species. They are much larger than our native frogs and have a voracious appetite eating all kinds of insects and lizards as well as consuming our own tiny native frogs. Moreover, their tadpoles compete with our native tadpoles crowding them out and eating their food.
Another nasty fact about the Cuban treefrog that the slime on their skin is an irritants that can effect people’s noses and eyes and may even cause breathing problems.
Easter Rock rises above the treetops on the seaward side of the North Shore Road between Gibney Beach and Peace Hill. A lone sentinel standing a silent watch over tranquil Hawksnest Bay, the rock has inspired both romantic tales and scientific inquiries.
Island legend tells us this huge rounded boulder makes its way down to the sea every year on the night before Easter Sunday. When it gets to the bay, it takes a drink of water and then returns to its majestic perch. This takes place before the morning sun rises over Peace Hill and before the first motorists pass by, unaware of the awesome event that has just transpired. Doubting Thomases will need to explain why even if Easter Sunday follows the driest of nights, during the driest of droughts, Easter Rock will still be wet early on Easter morning.
Although geologists have not yet succeeded in explaining Easter Rock’s propensity to go down to the sea on Easter Sunday for a drink of water, they can tell us about the origin of this massive boulder, which is the only one of its kind in the valley.
The outer crust of the Earth consists of large masses of slowly moving rock called tectonic plates. About 100 million years ago, one of these plates, called the North American plate, which was moving towards the west, encountered another tectonic plate called the Caribbean plate, which was moving in the same direction.
Life in the Caribbean has long been classified as slower moving than in the fast-paced world of continental America. This phenomenon apparently has a historical and geological foundation because a significant factor in the creation of many of the Caribbean islands, including St. John, is the fact that the Caribbean plate happened to be moving at a slower pace than its continental counterpart.
Consequently, when the North American plate overtook the slower moving Caribbean plate, the American plate, being denser and heavier, slid under the Caribbean plate and pushed it up. The friction from the two giant masses of solid rock grinding against one another produced a heat so intense that it melted some of the rock between the two plates. The fiery, liquefied rock, called magma, built up in enclosed pockets, called magma chambers, and exerted an ever-increasing pressure on the surrounding rock. When that pressure became so great that it could not be contained any longer, the magma broke through its rocky chamber and spewed forth violently into the ocean. This event is called a volcano.
Normally, when super-hot magma comes in contact with cold ocean water, the magma explodes and is dispersed over a great area. In this case, however, the eruption occurred at a depth of 15,000 feet, or nearly three miles, below the surface of the ocean. At this great depth the water pressure is nearly 7,000 pounds per square inch, a pressure that was sufficient to keep the magma from exploding on contact with water and instead causing it to be deposited on the ocean floor in giant solid sheets.
Coinciding with this volcanic activity and the laying down of rock, the action of the American plate sliding under the Caribbean plate caused the latter to bulge at the edges. The combination of these events resulted in the beginnings of a mountain range that was to become the islands of the Greater Antilles. This process of volcanic activity and uplifting continued for millions of years and caused the newly formed mountains to move closer to the surface.
It was during the next period of St. John’s development that Easter Rock was born. A series of volcanoes erupted in the area of what is today called Pillsbury Sound. This time the water was relatively shallow and the volcanoes erupted explosively. The shower of rocks, solidified volcanic ash, and molten lava added substance and height to the older solid sheets of rock and, in conjunction with the continued uplifting of the area, eventually brought parts of the rocky underwater mass above sea level to form islands.
The awesome power of these violent eruptions also served to break off huge chunks of the older rock, heaving them into the air. One of these massive fragments ended up just above what was to become Hawksnest Bay. That majestic boulder, now known as Easter Rock, not only goes down to the sea every Easter for a drink of water, but also serves as an enduring reminder of the fiery beginnings of the island of St. John.
The moderate north swell that we’ve been experiencing the last few days has produced small breaking waves on the Trunk Bay shoreline. This in turn has brought some new sand from the reef to be deposited on shore.
Walking down the beach, the sand was smooth and fine and felt soft on my feet.