I will never forget stumbling upon the VIERS Tektite Museum at Lameshur Bay. Tacked to a corkboard display was a magazine story featuring underwater photographs taken during the Tektite II Project in 1970. I could not help but awe at the pictures of a lush coral reef, giant sea fans, and a rich array of fish. The marine life in the photos was healthier, richer, and more vibrant than anything I had seen snorkeling from the shores of St. John.
Photos of what coral reefs used to look like when folks like Dr. Sylvia Earle and Jacques Cousteau were out diving to raise awareness about protecting our oceans are vivid. Unfortunately, they are images of the past. I think a lot of us marvel at these photographs of nature to the point of memorializing what we’d love to see in current “real-life”.
I share this with you for a very specific reason. I think we need to reset our baseline for assessing the health of our marine resources to fully understand the urgent situation we are facing. Spots like Tektite remain exquisite, perhaps due to being protected and harder to reach. Yet still, they are in peril. Today coral coverage around the shores and bays of Virgin Islands National Park is estimated at about 6% as opposed to the over 50% coverage that existed 20 years ago!
We need everyone to be a friend of Virgin Islands National Park and help protect its’ natural and cultural resources. As a member and supporter of the Friends, we ask you to please help spread the word. Believe me, you can be a top advocate for our coral reefs just by sharing this information:

1. Use Reef-Safe Sun Protection
2. Don’t Stand On or Touch Coral (or Any Marine Life)
3. Social Distance from Sea Turtles
4. Pack It In, Pack It Out

As we work with our Park to plan our support for the coming season, we will be asking for your help. You can do more than your part by answering our calls to volunteer, donate, or both. Again, thank you for your support and the appreciation you have for the special places, plants, and animals, protected in Virgin Islands National Park for us all to enjoy!

Tonia Lovejoy, Acting Director
Community Matters Panel
V.I. Creole: Exploring the Relationship Between Language, Culture, and Freedom in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This seminar aired on WTJX Public Television on Thursday, July 8th and was moderated by St.JanCo President and Co-Founder, Dr. Hadiya Sewer. This panel discussion explored the importance of Virgin Islands Creole in the history, identity, politics, and culture of the people of the United States Virgin Islands. Panel participants are Dr. Gilbert Sprauve, Dr. Clement White, and Mr. Biko McMillan.
The Community Matters Seminar Series is sponsored by Friends thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands and WTJX/NPR.
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Kicks Off
We are excited to report that three confirmed and one suspected nests have already been laid on St. John this season! This is a great reminder to not put stakes in the sand and why dogs are not permitted on Park beaches.

The Turtle Patrol Team consists of over 50 volunteers who walk our beaches daily. Interested in joining the team? Please visit our turtle page for information about this incredible volunteer program.
Photographer In Residence
Please join us in welcoming Kayden Richards to our team as our Photographer In Residence.

Kayden is an ancestral native Virgin Islander from St. John fascinated with animals and nature. As our Photographer In Residence, he will create a photographic story about the park as well as record Friends and NPS events and programs.

Mentor Opportunity! Kayden's residency includes mentoring and professional development. If you would be interested in mentoring him on business management for professional artists please contact Tonia Lovejoy at .
Jeffrey Matheny Scholarship
Did you graduate high school in the Virgin Islands? Are you studying natural resource protection and other related fields of study at the university level? Do you know someone who is? Then, we have scholarship opportunities to share with you!

Visit our website to learn more about the Jeffrey Matheny Scholarship and how to apply for the 2020-2021 school year today! Scholarship Awards are limited. For more information please email
Useful Numbers for Park Stewards

VINP NPS Visitors Center in Cruz Bay
(340) 776-6201, ext 238 /

VINP NPS Park Ranger Hotline
(866) 995-8467

Report Sea Turtle Nesting Activity - (340) 643-8560 /

Report Injured Turtles/STAR Network (340) 690 0474