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