Category Archives: St John Snorkeling

New Species of Fan Worm Discovered in Hurricane Hole

FanWormMaine researcher discovers new species of sea worm
By Kaitlin Schroeder Morning Sentinel

A member of the University of Maine at Farmington faculty was credited recently with discovering a new genus and species of marine worm, which she first spotted near the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Five years ago, Nancy Prentiss, a UMF lecturer in biology, was snorkeling at Hurricane Hole off St. John, an island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, when on the underside of a rock she found fanworms unlike any she had seen before.

At the time of the discovery, Prentiss, who had been teaching UMF students and working as an ecology camp science educator on the island, said she knew immediately the red-and-white worms protected by coiled calcium carbonate tubes were a unique find.

“I had never seen fanworms like these before and knew immediately I was looking at something special,” Prentiss said.

After years of painstaking research, working with experts in Greece and the Netherlands on eliminating the possibility that the worms were part of an existing genus or species, Prentiss published her work on the find in December in the academic journal Zootaxa.

“It’s not just a new species, but a whole new genus,” she said by phone Wednesday. A genus is a biological classification of plants or animals… read complete article

 

The newly discovered worm Turbocavus secretus is named for the location where it was found with “Turbocavus” referring to Hurricane Hole.

 

Specimens of the new fanworm species now are deposited permanently in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. In nature, they have been found only “attached to the undersides of rocks, firmly embedded in fine sediment,” according to the Zootaxa article….

St. John Live Music Schedule

Thursday 3/26

Aqua Bistro
T-Bird
5:30-8:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
Flipswitch
9:00
340-777-4220

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

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Erin Hart
8:00
340-201-1236

Concordia
Groovus
4:30 – 6:30
340-693-5855

Cruz Bay Landing
James
6:00-9:00
340-776-6908

Inn at Tamarind Court
Groove Thang
7:00
340-776-6378

Rhumb Lines
Shane Meade
7:00
340-776-0303

Virgin Fire
Hudson and the Hoodoo Cats
Kick off Blues Blowout Weekend
6:00 – 9:00
340-244-9713

See Weekly Schedule

Update me when site is updated

Black Durgon

Black Durgon
Black Durgon (Melichthys niger)

I’ve been trying for some time to get a good photo (better than this one) of the black durgon, but the fish won’t cooperate. I’m fascinated with the iridescent white band that outlines their dorsal and anal fins. But as soon as I approach, they swim away and head into their little crevices in the rocks.I read that they lock themselves in by raising their trigger.

The black durgon also known as black triggerfish has a really cool name in Hawaiian, “humuhumu’ele’ele.”

So until I learn to be sneakier underwater or the until that black durgon that I always seem to find at the Indians in the late afternoon, isn’t paying attention,  I’ll have to be satisfied with this photo taken from afar.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Friday 3/20

Aqua Bistro
Steven Sloan
5:30-8:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
Groove Thang
9:00
340-777-4220

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
T-Bird
8:00
340-201-1236

Cruz Bay Landing
Bri Felix
6:00-9:00
340-776-6908

Inn at Tamarind Court
Conor O’Brien of Big Blue World
7:00
340-776-6378

Shipwreck Landing
Tropical Sounds
6:30-9:30
340-693-5640

Skinny Legs
Chris Carsel & Friends
6:00-9:00
340-779-4982

Virgin Fire
Inner Vision
6:00 – 9:00
340-244-9713

See Weekly Schedule

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Maho Bay, The Place to See Turtles

I know I’ve said it before, but if you want to see sea turtles, just snorkel Maho Bay. You will not be disappointed!

I believe that we can thank the powers that be here.

To begin with, once turtles were routinely caught in turtle nets and now they are now protected. Catching them is illegal.

Secondly, not only are the turtles protected, but there habitat is also. The turtle thrive on seagrass (especially turtle grass) and the seagrass bed at Maho is lush and healthy. In great part this is due to the mooring program and the prohibition of anchoring in the bay. This prevents the seagrass from being torn up by anchor chains scraping the sea floor as the anchored boat swings to and fro.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Thursday 3/12

Aqua Bistro
T-Bird
5:30-8:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
Flipswitch
9:00
340-777-4220

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

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Erin Hart
8:00
340-201-1236

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

Cruz Bay Landing
James
6:00-9:00
340-776-6908

Rhumblines
Shane Meade
7:00
340-776-0303

See Weekly Schedule

Update me when site is updated

Mangroves

The Interaction of Mangroves, Coral Reefs, Salt Ponds and Beaches

Ecological environments everywhere depend upon one another for their survival. This is elegantly and plainly illustrated in the mangrove habitats of St. John as they quietly preside over the orderly transition of life between land and sea…. read more

Read a National Geographic article on the importance of mangrove forests

St. John Weather

Mostly cloudy in the morning then becoming variably cloudy. Scattered showers. Highs around 83. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent.

HIGH SURF ADVISORY

A HIGH SURF ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM AST SATURDAY.

* WAVES AND SURF: NORTH-NORTHWEST TO NORTH SWELLS OF 8 TO 10 FEET WITH PERIOD OF 12 TO 14 SECONDS WILL PRODUCE BREAKING WAVES OF BETWEEN 12 TO 16 FEET.

* TIMING: FROM TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS: LARGE BREAKING WAVES WILL CAUSE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS IN THE SURF ZONE AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS. WAVE ACTION SURGING UPON THE COASTLINE AND HIGHER THAN NORMAL WATER LEVELS MAY POSE A THREAT TO LIFE AND PROPERTY.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Friday 2/13

Aqua Bistro
Steven Sloan
5:30-8:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
Get Right Band
9:00
340-777-4220

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
T-Bird
8:00
340-201-1236

Cruz Bay Landing
Bri Felix
6:00-9:00
340-776-6908

Shipwreck Landing
Tropical Sounds
6:30-9:30
340-693-5640

Skinny Legs
Chris Carsel & Friends
6:00-9:00
340-779-4982

Virgin Fire
Inner Vision
6:00 – 9:00
340-244-9713

See Weekly Schedule

 

Update me when site is updated

St. John Marine Life: Red Hind

Red Hind
Red Hind (Epinephelus guttatus)

St. John Live Music Schedule

Wednesday 2/4

Aqua Bistro
Mark Wallace
5:30-8:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
Mitch Woods
8:00
340-777-4220

Castaway’s
Karaoke Night
9:00 pm – 2:00 am
340-777-3316

Coconut Coast Studios
St. John Flutes
5:30 – 7:30
340-776-6944

Cruz Bay Landing
Matt Mirkut
6:00-9:00
340-776-6908

Shipwreck Landing
Chris Carsel
6:30-9:30
340-693-5640

Virgin Fire
Hot Club of Coral Bay
6:00 – 9:00
340-244-9713

See Weekly Schedule

Update me when site is updated

St. John Marine Life: Orange Cup Coral

orange cup coral
Orange Cup Coral (Tubastraea coccinea)
Cup Coral and Brain Coral
Brain Coral (top) and Cup Coral (bottom)

I just found out that one of my favorite hard corals, the Orange Cup Coral (Tubastraea coccinea), is considered an invasive species.

Orange cup corals are beautiful brightly colored orange corals with flower-like yellow tentacles that extend at night or in areas of low light.

Although the orange cup coral is a hard coral, it’s not a reef-building coral. Also, unlike other corals, the cup coral, does not depend on the symbiotic algae, which shares it’s photosynthesis-created food with the coral animal. Because of this, the cup coral can grow in dark places such as shaded walls, caves and underneath overhanging ledges.

I first noticed orange cup corals on the walls of an rocky indentation on the Tektite snorkel and again on the walls of the caves at Norman Island. Now I see them elsewhere even on the Trunk Bay Underwater Trail.

Cup corals do not seem to be a major problem here in the Virgin Islands as they seem to prefer the darker areas that other corals don’t like and I’ve not seen any great proliferation in all the years that I have been snorkeling around the Virgin Islands.

They are, however, a problem in the Gulf of Mexico where they tend to crowd out other native coral and sponge species. They especially like oil rig platforms where hundreds of thousands of colonies may be found attached a platform.

Update me when site is updated

Sea Wasp

sea-wasp-9You’ll need to look carefully to see the translucent jellyfish in the above photo, but seeing it in the water is even more difficult. It has a dome shaped head and four tentacles. It’s a sea wasp. It stings hard and it’s hard to avoid. If you are unfortunate enough to get stung, pour vinegar on the the affected area and in severe cases seek medical attention.

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St. John Sea Creatures: Upsidedown Jellyfish (Cassiopea)

upsidedown jellyfishI saw quit a few of these strange jellyfish while snorkeling the southwestern side of Maho Bay. They were resting on the bottom in about ten feet of water. While most jelly fish swim around with their head up and tentacles down, the Cassiopea spends most of its time with its’ head down resting on the sea floor and with its tentacles extended upward, hence the name, upsidedown jellyfish.

The upsidedown jellyfish can give divers a mild sting, which can be very itchy. According to Wikipedia: “The stinging cells are excreted in a mucus; swimming over the jellyfish (especially using swim fins) may cause transparent, essentially invisible, sheets of this mucus to be lifted up into the water column, where they are then encountered by unsuspecting swimmers,” but being that these jellies were in fairly deep water, this shouldn’t be a problem for snorkelers observing them.

Update me when site is updated