St. John Underwater Environment: Seagrass

St. John Marine Life: seagrass
Shoal Grass at Maho Bay

seagrass001Local seagrass species include shoal grass, turtle grass and manatee grass. These underwater grasses are commonly found on the sandy bottoms of calm bays and between coral reefs. They reproduce and grow by means of an underground root called a rhizome, which lies down horizontally just beneath the sand. From this rhizome the blades of grass grow up and the roots grow down, forming a mat of root fibers that hold the seagrass to the ocean floor. Seagrass is dependent on sunlight and therefore, cannot tolerate cloudy water for extended periods of time.

Seagrasses control erosion by holding down loose sandy soils with their mat of roots, thus protecting our beautiful beaches. Moreover, they help prevent turbidity, or water cloudiness. This is an important function because cloudy water blocks out sunlight.

Seagrasses control turbidity by trapping sediments washed down from land during rains and ultimately incorporating them into a seabed soil that is held securely by the seagrass roots. The blades of grass also slow down bottom currents and keep loose sediments from getting churned up.

Seagrass beds support a great deal of marine life. They provide nutrition for the green turtle and queen conch, and serve as a habitat for many species of juvenile fish and other sea creatures that are small enough to hide between the blades of grass.

Although not quite as sensitive as corals, seagrasses are also threatened by turbidity. They are currently in grave danger from the exponential increase in residential and commercial development on St. John. The prime turbidity-causing culprit is the failure to pave roads. Other enemies of clear water include unprotected and irresponsible excavation, especially on steep slopes, and improper sewage treatment.

A more immediate threat to seagrass comes from the proliferation of boat anchoring. The act of setting down and then pulling up an anchor tears the seagrass up by the roots and destroys the rhizomes, making recovery slow and difficult. Worse yet, when anchors are set improperly, they may drag, causing widespread damage that often includes injury to nearby coral reefs. Moreover, as an anchored boat swings around in the wind, the anchor chain is dragged over the sea floor in an arc, destroying all the grass in its path.

St. John Sea Creatures: Turtle
Sea Turtle Grazes Seagrass

Years ago, harbors such as Caneel, Maho and Francis Bays had extensive seagrass cover. In those days literally hundreds of conch ambled slowly through the seagrass leaves at the bottom of the bays. With the advent of modern tourism and the great increase in the number of boats anchoring in these picturesque and well-protected harbors, the seagrass has all but disappeared and the conch population has plummeted.

Today a mooring program has been instituted whereby mariners enjoying many of the most popular bays in St. John may secure their vessels to moorings as an alternative to anchoring. The mooring program is a powerful step towards the preservation of seagrass and coral reefs. Unlike anchors, moorings are relatively permanent fixtures. This minimizes the disruption of the seabed. Moreover, moorings do not depend on heavy chains lying on the sea bottom for a secure bite, nor are they subject to dragging.

Excerpted from St. John Off the Beaten Track by Gerald Singer

St. John Weather

Isolated showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. East wind 21 to 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Update me when site is updated

St. John USVI Marine Life: Sea Urchins

St. John US Virgin islands Marine Life: Sea Urchins
Sea Urchins

Before 1983, black sea urchins, Diadema antillarum, were one of the most prevalent species to be found on and nearby our St. John coral reefs.

The sea urchins survive by grazing the reef consuming the algae that grows on coral structures and reef substrates, serving an important function as they prevent the coral from being smothered by the fast growing algae and keep the rocks where new coral might grow clean.

In 1983, more than 97% of the sea urchins died throughout the Caribbean region extending as far south as South America and as far north as the Bahamas.

Following the spread of the die-off it was suspected that the cause of the problem was a disease that began when a ship coming from the Pacific passed through the Panama Canal and discharged water from its bilges.

St. John SunriseVirgin Islands Weather

Showers likely, mainly after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 81. East northeast wind around 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Update me when site is updated

Smooth Trunkfish at Maho Bay

Smooth Trunkfish Lactophrys triqueter
This odd-shapped fish was photographed over the grassbeds at Maho Bay. It was looking for food along the sea floor by shooting out a stream of water through its mouth trying to expose the small invertebrates that live just under the sand.

Maho Bay, a great choice for beginning snorkelers and families with children

 lenin-9  maho kids-9  lionel jacob-9

St. John Virgin islands Live Music Schedule

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

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
7:00 – 9:00

Wayne Clendenin and Pamela Love
4 :30 – 6:30

Inn at Tamarind Court
Brother Nature

Morgan’s Mango
6:30 – 9:30

Ocean Grill
Chris Carsel
6:30 – 9:30

Skinny Legs
Lauren Jones
6:00 – 9:00

James Milne
5:00 – 8:00

See Weekly St. John Music Schedule

Virgin Islands Weather

Scattered showers, mainly after 1pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. East wind 21 to 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Update me when site is updated

Happy New Year!

St. John Sunrise
Dawn of the first day of 2014 – St. John US Virgin Islands

St. John Virgin Islands Live Music Schedule

Beach Bar
Innner Vision

Karaoke Night

Coconut Coast
St. John Flutes
5:30 -7:00

High Tide
Steel Pan
Happy Hour 4:00 – 7:00

Rhumb Lines
Shane Meade & the Sound
7:00 – 10:00

Chris Carsel
6:30 – 9:30

St. John and Virgin Islands News

WAPA continues to bleed as V.I. government continues to fail to pay multi-million bills
By JENNY KANE (Daily News Staff)
Published: December 31, 2013

ST. THOMAS – Financial audits discussed at a specially called meeting of the V.I. Water and Power Authority board on Monday revealed that the utility suffered a net loss in its electric system of almost $10 million in 2013 and that the amount the V.I. government owes to the utility for electricity has increased by almost $7 million…. read more

St. John Weather
Scattered showers, mainly before 1pm. Sunny, with a high near 80. East northeast wind around 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Update me when site is updated