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Archive for the “St. John Flora & Fauna” Category

Cuban Tree Frog

Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)

I found this Cuban tree frog in my outdoor shower. As it’s a creature that makes a loud, shrill, objectionable and annoying noise, I decided to move it to another location. I guess I could have killed it, especially since its an environmental nuisance that kills off our sweet little native frogs who sing melodious songs, nut I don’t like to kill things. Instead I brought it to another location.

I decided to photograph it beig that it was staying very still after I released it. I wanted a closeup shot, so I got down on my knees and photographed away. When froggie had enough of this he jumped up and stuck to my pants with its gooey, sticky, toxic mucus. Yuck!

Enchanted Frog

Kiss me!

I’ve heard stories that many handsome princes have been turned into frogs by evil witches. All a pretty young lady has to do to reverse the spell, which will turn the frog back into a handsome prince, resulting in the subsequent marriage of said young lady to the handsome prince, would be for the lady to kiss the frog. Any attractive young ladies out there that want to kiss this guy?

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st john birds scaly-necked pidgeon (Patagioenas squamosa)

scaly-necked pigeon

These big birds seem to enjoy flying around my manjack trees eating the ripe berries. They’re so big that they make a lot of noise flying through the leaves looking for a perch where they can get their beaks on the berries. They make their nests in the trees , but only lay one or two eggs at a time.

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Last night the termites of St. John took flight…

In late summer the reproductive castes of St. John termites begin their preparation to leave their nest for the first and only time in their lives. They develop wings to fly with and compound eyes to give them the temporary sense of sight, which they will need in the vast and perilous world outside the confines of the termitarium. They also change from their usual pale color to a dark brown, the newly acquired pigment being necessary to protect them from the light of day. The transformed reproductives, now called alates, wait for the signal that will coordinate an airborne exodus of alates from all the different colonies in the area.

The awaited sign comes in the form of the first big rain in autumn. When the rain stops and the sun sets, the alates fly off en masse into the night sky. Termites are not strong flyers, and their flight, although slow and drifting, is generally adequate enough to put a modest amount of distance between them and their home nest. The flying termites tend to be attracted by lights, which is why you may come home some night after a big rain and see hundreds of winged insects swarming around a lighted area or crawling around your floor. Upon landing, their wings fall off and it is possible that you will not see any bugs at all, but will find piles of insect wings strewn about.

Outside their nest the termites are defenseless. They are easy and ready prey for any creature who finds them appetizing. The mass swarming of the termites, however, acts to overwhelm these predators, who can eat only so many of the little delicacies leaving the survivors with the opportunity to complete their one and only mission in life, which is to reproduce.

The unusually hard rainfall that signals the mass departure is an event that all termites in a given area will experience at the same time, thus increasing the probability that termites from one nest will mate with termites from another nest. This is crucial for the well being of the species, because the residents of each individual nest are most likely descended from the same king and queen, making them brothers and sisters, relatives too closely related for healthy genetic combinations.

The airborne journey is just the beginning of the termite romance. After the termites land and shed their wings, they pair off into male and female couples. The female leads the way while her love struck partner follows close behind. Together they search for the location of their future home, which will most likely be a crack or defect in a tree trunk or branch. The couple will then work together to make a hole in the wood. When the excavation is large enough, they will seal off the entrance with their feces. The humble hollowed out section of tree now becomes a royal bedchamber where the two previously undistinguished termites will live together as king and queen “until death do they part”.

The royal couple then mate, and the first eggs are laid. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae, which have the capability of developing into workers, soldiers, or reproductives. The destiny of the larvae is determined by such factors as diet, time of year, and the introduction of a chemical called a pheromone. This important chemical is produced by the queen. It is excreted through her anus and imparted to the recipient termites when they groom the queen with their mouths. Pheromones are also responsible for the attraction of male and female termites to each other at mating time, for communication, and for trail marking, so that the blind workers and soldiers can find their way through the complex maze of trails and passageways in and around the termitarium.

Tropical termite queens can become quite large and may measure as much as four inches long. The termite queen is well taken care of by her comparatively tiny king, who spends most of his life feeding and licking her. The queen can remain fertile for as long as twenty-five years, and as she gets older and larger, she may lay thousands of eggs per day….read more

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St. John USVI Flora:Black Caper

When landscaping your property on St. John, a good idea is to think native plants. They’re just as attractive as expensive exotic plants shipped in from Florida nurseries and present far less problems. They are drought resistant. You don’t have to irrigate or water. They’re pest resistant. You don’t have to constantly spray with poisonous chemicals. And in the event of a powerful storm they may be broken or knocked over, but they will come right back  after the storm subsides.

The black caper (Capparis cynopallophora) is a good example of a beautiful native tree that thrives in dry forest conditions. Native to both the Virgin Islands and Florida, some St. Johnians have unnecessarily purchased them from Florida nurseries and had them shipped to St. John.

Black Caper Flowers and Seedpods

The black caper flowers open white and later turn pink

black caper juvenile leaves

The juvenile black caper leaves are quite different that those of the mature tree

black caper pink flowers

The flowers of the black caper are pleasantly fragrant as well as attractive

Black caper seed pod

Seedpod

seedpod partly open

Partially open seedpod

opened seedpod

The red-colored inside of the black caper seedpod

St. John and Virgin Islands News

USA Today published their choice for the top five U.S. Virgin Islands dive sites:

St. Croix: Frederiksted Pier
St. Thomas: Cow and Calf
St. John: Eagle Shoals
St. Croix: Butler Bay
St. Croix: Cane Bay

St. John Happenings

St. John Live Music Schedule

St. John Weather

Isolated showers before noon. Sunny, with a high near 82. East wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

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St. John Fauna: Iguana

side entrance nesting burrow

side entrance to iguana nesting burrow

top entrance iguana nesting burrow

top entrance to iguana nesting burrow

iguana eggs

iguana eggs

St. John Events

Community Meeting to Discuss a New School for St. John
Julius E. Sprauve School cafeteria
6:00 p.m.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Banana Deck
Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels
7:00 – 9:00
340-693-5055

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Ike
6:30 -9:30
340-201-1236

Beach Bar
John Gazi
9:00
340-777-4220

Concordia
Wayne Clendenin and Pamela Love
4:30 – 6:30
340-693-5855

High Tide
Erin Hart
5:00 – 8:00
340-714-6169

Inn at Tamarind Court
Brother Nature
6:30 – 9:30
340-776-6378

Island Blues
Gann – Solo guitar
7:00 – 10:00
340-776-6800

Miss Lucy’s
Rich & Greg
6:00 – 9:00
340-693-5244

Morgan’s Mango
James Anderson
6:30 – 9:30
340-693-8141

Ocean Grill
Chris Carsel
6:00 – 9:00
340-693-3304

Pickles
T-Bird
6:00 – 8:00
340-776-6908

Skinny Legs
Lauren Jones
6:00 – 9:00
340-779-4982

Spyglass
James Milne
5:00 – 8:00
340-776-1100

See Weekly Schedule

Virgin Islands News

Drop in cruise ship calls to St. Thomas could cost business community millions
By JENNY KANE (Daily News Staff)
Published: May 14, 2014

ST. THOMAS – Fewer cruise ships could mean fewer dollars in the bank for local businesses in the coming tourism season.

Though the V.I. Port Authority has yet to release the number of cruise ship calls expected during the 2014-2015 cruise ship season, the West Indian Co. reported last week that they are expecting a three-percent drop in the number of ships visiting its dock…. read article

Virgin Islands Weather

Scattered showers, mainly before 8am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. East wind 14 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

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St. John Animails: White-Tailed Deer

The above photo of white-tailed deer was taken in the coconut grove flats behind the beach at Maho Bay.

The white-tailed deer is the most common deer in North America. It is also found in southern Canada, Central America and has been introduced in parts of Europe, South Island, New Zealand, and the Virgin Islands.

White-tailed deer are excellent swimmers and can swim from island to island,

The Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 provided funding for the stocking of white-tailed deer on St. John and St. Thomas.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Banana Deck
Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels
6:00 – 9:00
693-5055

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Ike
7:00 – 9:00
201-1236

Beach Bar
The Grandsons
8:00
777-4220

Concordia
Wayne Clendenin and Pamela Love
4 :30 – 6:30
693-5855

High Tide
Island Girl
Happy Hour 4:00 – 7:00
714-6169

Inn at Tamarind Court
Brother Nature
6:30
776-6378

Island Blues
Gann – Solo guitar
7:00 – 10:00
776-6800

Morgan’s Mango
James Anderson
6:30 – 9:30
693-8141

Ocean Grill
Chris Carsel
6:30 – 9:30
693-3304

Skinny Legs
Lauren Jones
6:00 – 9:00
779-4982

Spyglass
James Milne
5:00 – 8:00
776-1100

See Weekly Schedule

St. John and Virgin Islands News

Campbell takes 56th
By AARON GRAY (Special to the Daily News)
Published: February 19, 2014

Alongside a mountain consumed by fog and under a frigid rain, Jasmine Campbell added a new chapter to the Virgin Islands Olympics history books when she competed in the giant slalom alpine skiing event Tuesday at the Winter Olympics.

The 22-year-old St. John native became the first athlete to represent the territory in an Olympic skiing event since her father, John, and Seba Johnson both competed in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France.

John Campbell was with his daughter after the second of her two runs at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. The milestone they were able to share together exceeded her final standing within the highly competitive, world-class field.

Campbell clocked a time of 1 minute, 32.05 seconds on her first run and followed it up with a 1:33 on her second run. The times were good enough for 56th place out of the 90 giant slalom competitors who took to the Caucasus mountains Tuesday…. read more

Centerline Road to Close Saturday During 8 Tuff Miles Race
By Lynda Lohr — February 20, 2014

Centerline Road from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay will be closed during parts of Saturday morning so runners participating in the 18th annual 8 Tuff Miles race can safely get from one end of the island to the other.

Jeff Miller, a member of the race organizing committee, said the Cruz Bay end of Centerline Road will be closed at 7:10 a.m., just before the 7:15 race start.

He said Centerline Road going west from Coral Bay toward Cruz Bay will be closed shortly after the race starts to assure the road down to Coral Cay is clear through the construction zone. It will reopen by 10:30 a.m. at the latest….read more

Donation Makes Possible New Park Educational Exhibit Signs
By Lynda Lohr — February 20, 2014

The park’s chief of interpretation, Paul Thomas, with donors Paul and Nancy Anderson.

Thanks to a $25,000 donation from St. John snowbirds Paul and Nancy Anderson to the Friends of V.I. National Park, the park will make some inroads on replacing its tattered educational exhibit signs…. read more

St John Virgin Islands Weather

Isolated showers before 8am, then isolated showers after 2pm. Sunny, with a high near 76. East wind 20 to 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

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banana flower-9
bananasOnce upon a time, bananas were wild plants that grew only in Asia. Then, like now, bananas were a tasty fruit. The problem with them was that they were difficult to eat, because the wild bananas were full of extremely hard seeds about the size of small peas. The seeds could make up about eighty percent of the banana fruit, leaving only twenty percent as edible flesh. To eat a banana in those days one needed to be either very hungry or have a lot of patience.

Every once in a while, however, a wild banana plant would undergo a genetic mutation causing it to produce a seedless fruit. (The tiny dark particles that you see in the commonly seen bananas of today are actually undeveloped seeds that are so small and so soft that you may not even notice them.)

Without fertile seeds the mutated bananas could not reproduce and spread in the normal fashion. The only way the seedless banana can reproduce is parthenocarpically, which means without seeds. It does this by means of suckers, which grow off the main stem forming new plants that have exactly the same genetic makeup and attributes as the parent.

In all probability, these mutated seedless bananas were eventually found and sampled by human beings foraging for food. Needless to say, the seedless variety was much more desirable than the difficult-to-eat seeded ones and once they were discovered, people decided to bring back some slips for home cultivation. This is a relatively easy process. All that needs to be done is to severe the suckers from the main stem with a sharp object. The small, light and easily carried slips can then be transported and replanted in more convenient locations.

The seedless banana undoubtedly became a popular and sought after crop and gradually was spread… read more

St. John USVI Live Music Schedule

Aqua Bistro
Matt Mitruk
5:30 – 8:30
776 5336

Concordia
Open Mic with Johnny B & Lauren
3:30 – 5:30
693-5855

Ocean Grill
Rascio on Steel Pan
6:30 – 9:30
693-3304

Shipwreck Landing
Hot Club of Coral Bay
6:30 – 9:30
693-5640

Virgin Fire
Rich Greengold & Greg Jones
5:30 – 8:30
779-4982

See Weekly St. John Music Schedule

St. John Virgin islands Weather

Scattered showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. East wind around 22 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

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Eagle Ray-9I was fortunate enough to get some good video of this spotted eagle ray swimming just outside of one of the Hawksnest Bay reefs. In the video you can see the ray sucking up the sand in search of small

mollusks and crustaceans which they crush up and send the excess sand out though their gills.

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St. John Insects: Scorpion Virgin islands Insects: spider

St. John Insects: Scorpion & Spider

St. John Weather

Sahara Dust
For the last few days or so we’ve been experiencing a particularly intense Sahara dust condition. The gray skies over St. John are not clouds, but dust that has traveled over the Atlantic all; the way from Africa and will continue as far as the state of Florida in the continental US.

The Good Part:
“Saharan dust is a limiting factor for tropical development in the Atlantic and sunsets are stunning as a result of dust clouds high in the sky with notable, bright red colors on display.

Origin of the Dust
The Sahara is the greatest single stretch of desert in the world, besides the Arctic and Antarctic, stretching about 3.5 million square miles across northern Africa.

Rainfall is rare across much of the Sahara, and sparing across the rest of the desert.

“Persistent high pressure with resultant sinking and drying of air is what tends to limit rainfall across the region. There is likely a ‘feedback’ mechanism at work by which dry, sparsely vegetated earth superheats, thereby further warming the atmosphere and further strengthening the area of high pressure,” AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews explained.

Persistent northeasterly winds, squeezed between an area of high pressure over the northern Sahara and low pressure over the equator, are often strong enough to stir loose sand and dust in the Sahara. Although the coarser sand is not normally raised far above the land, the smaller dust particles can be lofted 2 or 3 miles high into the sky, Andrews said.

Especially strong winds can blow over thousands of square miles of the desert can scour enormous volumes of dust from the surface. According to a University of Wisconsin-Madison study by Amato Evan, the amount of dust is said to be in the millions of tons….

During a dust storm in the Sahara, which can last for days, the visibility can drop to zero. These long dust storms yield clouds of dust that span one thousand miles or more. Large dust clouds can traverse westward across the Atlantic as they get steered by trade winds.

“Under favorable settings, dust aloft can reach customary tropical cyclone breeding areas, including “Hurricane Alley”, which stretches eastward from the Lesser Antilles,” Andrews said….” From Accuweather.com by Meghan Evans, Meteorologist

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St. John Sea Creatures: Parrotfish

Parrotfish are one of the most common species found on St. John reefs. They are extremely colorful and have fused teeth that look like a parrot’s beak. They swim using their pectoral fins.

Reef grazing fish, such as parrotfish, produce a significant amount of the sand found on our beaches. Parrotfish exist on a diet of algae, which they scrape off the surface of coral rock with their beak. They then grind this coral and algae mixture to a fine powder. The algae covering the coral are absorbed as food. The coral rock passes through their digestive tracts and is excreted in the form of sand. Snorkelers will frequently observe this process if they watch the parrotfish for a few minutes. Scientists say that for each acre of reef a ton of sand is produced by reef grazing fish every year.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Steven Sloan
7:00 – 9:00
201-1236

Beach Bar
Savirti
9:00
777-4220

Castaways
Karaoke Night
9:00
777-3316

Driftwood David’s
Benn Marr
5:30 – 8:30
777-4015

High Tide
Chris Carsel
6:00 – 9:00
714-6169

Island Blues
Karaoke & Open Mic
7:00
776-6800

La Tapa
Greg Kinslow
6:00 – 9:30
693-8141

Miss Lucy’s
David Reed
6:00 – 9:00
693-5254

Morgan’s Mango
Sambacombo
6:30 – 9:30
693-8141

Spyglass
T-Bird
5:00 – 8:00
776-1100

See Weekly Schedule

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