Marine Awareness Guide 2008

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“In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand; we will understand only what we are taught.” — Baba Dioum


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Elkhorn Coral is listed as threatened in the US and is illegal to export out of the BVI. Photo by S. Gore

Dedicated to the future generations of the British Virgin Islands.

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


M E SSAGE F RO M T H E M IN IS TE R OF N AT U R A L R E SO URC E S & L A B OUR It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the British Virgin Islands. We are fortunate in many ways to be blessed by an abundance of nature and beauty that remain, to a large extent, pristine. I hope you enjoy this magazine and understand why we want to preserve our natural resources for generations to come. Under my Ministry, I want to ensure that the environment, the fishing industry and the resource base on which they depend are managed in a sustainable manner for the greatest possible benefit of the people of the British Virgin Islands and our visitors. You, our residents and visitors, have a role to play while enjoying the unique features of the BVI safely and sustainably. The information you will find in these pages will guide you in how to do just that. Your experience will be so much richer, knowing that you have helped to safeguard Nature’s Little Secrets.


Honourable Omar Hodge Minister of Natural Resources & Labour

S PE CIAL T HA NK S Hundreds of photos were donated for this publication, unfortunately, not all could be used in this first edition. We want to thank everyone for their generosity.


Armando Jenik (Scubashots)

Trish Baily

Torin Tofferi

George & Luana Marler

Brad Casey

Devin Wilson

Antonio Mignucci-Giannoni

Andrew Drake

Nancy Woodfield-Pascoe

Jim Scheiner (RainbowVisions)

Shannon Gore

Chris Syms

Terry Hucul

Laura Magruder Andy McGowan

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Flamingo Tongues, Photo by A. Jenik

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



The people of the British Virgin Islands depend on marine resources for food,

recreation, and the economic benefits that come from tourism. However, like many other small islands around the world, the sustainability of our marine resources is critically threatened. This guide was created to raise awareness on the importance of protecting these resources for the people of the BVI and those that visit these islands. I would like to welcome you to the BVI and I hope your experience here will be special and rewarding. In an effort to assist us with the management and conservation of the natural resources that you will see and enjoy, please take some time out to read this guide so that you will be aware of the “do’s & don’ts” in our marine environment. You can play an important role in ensuring its sustainability and that your next visit will be as or even more enjoyable than the present. Thank you for utilizing the Marine Awareness Guide and adhering to the laws and regulations of the Territory. I also want to thank you for choosing the British Virgin Islands for your vacation destination. I pray you will have a blessed and most memorable experience and that you will come again.

Bertrand Lettsome Chief Conservation & Fisheries Officer

Concept and Principal Author Shannon Gore, BVI Conservation & Fisheries Department Contributing Authors Mark Hayward Mervin Hastings Nadia James-Lord Lianna Jarecki, PhD. Bertrand Lettsome Cindy Rolli Mark Street Nancy Woodfield-Pascoe Editors Kerry Hucul 6

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Claire Rowe Tanya Whistler Andrew Wilkins Trish Bailey Antonio Mignucci-Giannoni Marie Shepherd Jim Stoll Publication Design Nick Cunha, Art Direction Richard George, Graphic Design aLookingGlass Ltd. Road Town, Tortola, BVI t 284.494.7788 f 284.494.8777

The Marine Awareness Guide and its contents are the intellectual property of the Government of the BVI. Neither this magazine nor any part of it may be reproduced without the written permission from the BVI Government The Marine Awareness Guide is funded entirely by The Moorings.

Orange ball corallimorph Photo by A. Jenik

In September 2007 the BVI Marine Awareness Stakeholders group was formed to bring together all marine resources users in the BVI as one voice. Without the help of this group, this publication would not have been possible. For anyone residing in the BVI that is interested in being a part of this group, contact the Conservation & Fisheries Department, 494-3429. Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008




Coral Reefs Seagrass Meadows Beaches Mangroves Salt Ponds MARINE SPECIES OF THE BVI

20 30

Fisheries Marine Mammals Sea Turtles Sea Birds MARINE RELATED LAWS OF THE BVI

Protection Closed Fishing Seasons Moratoriums Prohibited Fishing Methods Pollution Souvenirs CONSERVATION PRACTICES


Use of Moorings Anchoring Diving & Snorkeling Provisioning for the Eco-Friendly Boat Garbage Sewage Feeding the Fish POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS MARINE ORGANISMS

38 43 8

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Emergency Information Dangers Allergic Reactions Poisoning STORM PREPARATION & SAFETY

Ocean Safety Dive Safety Beach Safety Important Phone Numbers

Blenny on a sponge. Photo by A. Jenik. French Angels. Photo by A. Jenik. Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



Little Jost Great Tobago

Green Cay Jost Van Dyke Tortola Sandy Cay

Cane Garden Bay

Little Tobago Road Harbour Long Bay Great Thatch

Nanny Cay

Little Thatch

Frenchman’s Cay

Pete Pelican Island

Flannigan Island

Norman Isl


Not to scale in comparrison with other islands.

Necker Island

Moskito Island

Great Camanoe

Prickly Pear Island

The Dogs

Guana Island

Virgin Gorda Scrub Island Little Camanoe Marina Cay Beef Island

Fallen Jerusalem

Cooper Island


Ginger Island


Carval Rock Dead Chest


Rock or Rubble

Salt Island Sands and Muds Seagrass

er Island


Eustatia Island

Fisheries Priority*

Fisheries Protected* Shaded areas are estimated locations and may not reflect exact measurements.

*No anchoring


Left: White band disease seen on elkhorn coral nearly wiped out the species in the late 1970's. Photo by George & Luana Marler. Middle: Coral is destroyed by anchors and are unsafe to hold anchors. Photo by Nancy Woodfield-Pascoe. Right: Large anchor chain seen on the reef has moved and wiped out everything in its path. Photo by George & Luana Marler.

What are coral reefs? Coral reefs are complex ecosystems found in shallow, warm clear waters near low latitudes around the world. Reefs are defined not only by their physical structure but also by the organisms found on them. This includes a number of species of hard (reef building) and soft corals (sea fans and gorgonians), algae, sponges, echinoderms, mollusks, fish, crustaceans, bryozoans, tunicates, reptiles and marine mammals that all interact together to create a spectacular underwater world. A coral is made up of hundreds to thousands of primitive animals called polyps. Each polyp has a clear fleshy body with a ring of tentacles on top that helps the animal catch food. Algae called zooxanthellae not only give coral its color, but are a major source of food for the coral. There are about 80 species of reef building corals in the Atlantic compared to about 500 in the Pacific Ocean. These reef-building corals make up different types of reefs. They can either be fringing, patch, barrier or atoll reefs. There are no atolls in the BVI, but patch and fringing reefs are found around every island throughout the Territory. The Anegada Horseshoe Reef is the third largest in the Eastern Caribbean at 63km long and contains both patch and barrier reef.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Why are coral reefs important? Coral reefs are considered the rainforests of the ocean because they are among the most complex and diverse of all ecosystems in the world. Coral reefs provide food and shelter for a wide variety of marine species, but for humans their value seems endless. Coral reefs worldwide are valued economically in the billions of dollars, and once they are gone they are irreplaceable. Ask a fisherman and he will tell you how important the reef is for the fish. Ask the tour operators and they will tell you their business depends on the divers and snorkelers that visit the islands. Ask anyone who owns a home or business near the shore and they will tell you the reef protects their property from high energy waves during storms. BVI Laws protecting coral reefs • It is illegal to anchor, use a mooring without a permit, fish, take any artifact, or commercially film, within the Wreck of the Rhone Marine Park (Marine Parks and Prohibited Areas Regulations, 1991) • It is illegal to have in possession or to damage any coral, sponge or marine algae except with written permission of the Chief Conservation & Fisheries Officer (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec. 28 and within Marine Parks, National Parks Act, Sec. 49).

• It is illegal to sell shells (such as conch shells) and coral which are on the Convention of the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) to people leaving the Territory (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec. 28). • If you leave the BVI with live coral and enter the US, you can be prosecuted under US Federal Laws (Lacey Act). • Any activity in which pollution causes damage or adversely affects the living resource is illegal (VI Fisheries Act, 1997, Sec. 39)

Threats to coral reefs Natural threats • A number of predators on the reef eat coral polyps, such as parrotfish and butterfly fish, as well as urchins that can bore holes into the substrate (anything that might be on the bottom of the seafloor, including coral and carbonate pavement). • Warming sea temperatures can cause bleaching (see section on coral bleaching). • Rapid sea level rise can drown coral reefs if the rate of sea level rise is more than the rate of coral growth. • Increased number and intensity of storms destroy the structure of reefs. • Ocean acidification due to increased carbon dioxide dissolved into the water will cause coral structures made of

The Caribbean region experienced the worst coral bleaching event in 2005. Over 95% of hard corals turned pale to pure white. Photo by A. Jenik


calcium carbonate to disintegrate from carbonic acid. • Since the 1970’s, dust from Africa continues to cause a decline in the overall health of reefs in the Caribbean.

Threats from humans • Land development causes runoff in the form of sediments, which smother and kill corals. • Pollution from human sewage and garbage can kill fragile corals. • Over fishing causes an imbalance in the ecosystem as a whole. For example, when too many herbivorous fish (such as parrotfish) are caught, algae begin to grow over and smother corals because herbivorous fish eat the algae that can kill the reef. • Anchor damage kills coral by crushing it, breaking it apart or ripping it out of the seabed. • Touching, kicking or standing on coral will kill it. This may actually kill the coral right away; otherwise it is left to die slowly from loss of its protective covering, which protects it from disease and radiation.

What is coral bleaching? Coral bleaching occurs when water temperatures fall outside their normal range for coral survival, roughly between 76°F-82°F. When the water is too

hot or too cold, algae (zooxanthellae) are expelled from the coral polyps, leaving clear polyp tissue and exposing the underlying calcium carbonate skeleton. Because the coral appears pale or white in color, it is called “bleached” coral. If water temperatures return to normal, algae will return and the color of the coral will return to normal. However, if water temperatures remain too hot (or too cold) for an extended period of time, the polyp will die and the exposed skeleton will eventually become covered in algae. Your part • Avoid anchoring; use a mooring ball instead. If you must anchor, make sure the anchor is set in sand and the scope is not touching any corals. Because coral is made of calcium carbonate, it breaks easily so using a coral head to hold the anchor is not safe. • Make sure sewage is discharged offshore and not in marinas or bays. • While snorkeling or diving, look but don’t touch. • Suntan oils and bug sprays can end up on fragile corals so use biodegradable products. • Dispose of your garbage in proper receptacles, NOT into the ocean. • Use environmentally friendly products on the boat (See “Provisioning List”).

Reef Facts • There are over 350,000 acres of reef in the BVI. • During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, white band disease wiped out the majority of elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in the Caribbean. Today, these corals are found, but not in large colonies as seen prior to the spread of the disease. They are also the only corals listed as threatened under the United States Endangered Species Act. • In 1983-1984 the die-off of the spiny sea urchin (Diadema antillarum) drastically altered reef structure. The urchins kept algae from overgrowing on corals, and without the urchins, a large number of corals were smothered and died throughout the Caribbean.

For more information, visit There are over 2 million hits on Google for a search on coral reefs – here are a few with good info: • • • • • •

• If you see an oil slick, call the Conservation & Fisheries Department immediately! (494-3429). Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Conch live primarily in seagrass beds. Photo by J. Scheiner. Opposite Left: Diamond pipefish in seagrass. Photo by J. Scheiner. Right: Cushion sea star, photo by S. Gore


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

What are seagrasses? Seagrasses are flowering marine plants found throughout the world, except in arctic regions. Over 60 types of seagrasses are found worldwide, but only five are found in the BVI. Turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) and manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) are the most common seagrasses found in the BVI. They are found in shallow coastal areas around almost every island in the BVI. Other types of seagrasses found in the BVI are: shoal grass (Halodule wrightii); paddle grass (Halophila decipiens), found in deeper waters; and widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima), found only in salt ponds such as the Josiah’s salt pond. Why are seagrass meadows important? Seagrass meadows receive less attention compared to coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands, but they deliver a number of ecological services that are economically worth more than the other imperiled habitats. A study published in 1997 in Nature magazine provided a summary of the “average global value of annual ecosystem services” for a number of different habitats, including seagrass meadows. The total value for seagrass (per hectare, per year) came to $19,004 (US), nearly $13,000 more than the value put on coral reefs (per hectare, per year), at the estimated value of $6075! Explaining how these figures were calculated is beyond the scope of this article, but they might make people realize that although you don’t necessarily like to walk in seagrass because of the way it feels between your toes, seagrass is actually worth a lot of money. So if you are still wondering why seagrass meadows are so important, here are the reasons: Seagrass • Provides food and shelter to numerous commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as

hundreds of invertebrates that are produced within or migrate to seagrass meadows. • Absorbs and cycles nutrients from coastal run-off to maintain good water quality. • Stabilizes the seafloor to keep water clear.

Your part • If there are moorings, use them. If you have to anchor, make sure the area is clear of all coral or seagrasses. Seagrass areas are poor holding ground for anchoring.

• Oxygenates coastal waters.

• While traveling through shallow areas in a motorboat, make sure the props are raised enough not to touch the grass. If you hit the bottom, stop, tilt your engine and use a pole or walk your boat out.

• Absorbs carbon from the atmosphere.

• Shallow areas are “no-wake zones” – drive slowly.

• Exports organic carbon to adjacent ecosystems.

• Do not throw garbage overboard; this can smother grass.

• Protects the shoreline from erosion by reducing incoming wave energy. • Provides food for coastal food webs.

• Is recognized as one of the indicator species for overall coastal habitat health. • Has potential for medicinal purposes such as remedies for pain, skin problems, and as an aid for curing malaria.

Threats to seagrass Seagrasses have been around for over a million years, but seagrasses around the world today are critically threatened by direct human impacts, particularly over the past 40 years. • Dredging destroys seagrasses. • Anchoring causes scarring of seagrass as well as “blow outs” where the area around the damaged area erodes. • Driving through shallow areas of seagrass can cause scarring from the prop. • Excessive nutrients and sediments being discharged into the water, possibly from agriculture or uncontrolled development, can cause eutrophication, a condition that causes increased productivity but ultimately leads to decay and lower oxygen levels in the water. • Water pollution can cause grass to fail to photosynthesize.

• If you see an oil slick, call the Conservation & Fisheries Department immediately! (494-3429)

Fun facts • There are over 10,000 acres of seagrass in the BVI. • There are over 340 marine species that actually eat seagrass. • Fish found on a reef are also found in seagrass, but those in the seagrass are small juveniles. • Stingrays and eagle rays often visit seagrass meadows to find food such as conch to eat. • Hundreds of years ago, manatees were found in seagrass meadows in the BVI; now the closest population is in Puerto Rico. • A local drink made of sea moss is believed not only to be nutritious but enhances your vitality.

For more information • • • seagrass/ •

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008




First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

What are beaches? A very general definition of a “beach” is the transitional zone between the low water mark along a body of water and landward where a definite change takes place such as the vegetation line. Other schools of thought expand this definition and include a broader scale such as the marine habitats in front of a beach. Beaches are found along the ocean, around lakes, even ponds and sediments that accumulate in this zone originate from the water or land. Seaward, currents and waves deposit marine particles such as mollusks, foraminifera (tiny marine animals with shells) and coral. From the land, sediments primarily come from rock (igneous, sedimentary and/or metamorphic) via rivers and valleys. However, not all beaches are sandy. There are different classifications of beaches by grain size; beaches may be made of “gravel” such as coral rubble, cobbles and even boulders.

• Pollution. • Clearing of vegetation along the beach, which causes erosion. • Building too close to the shore also accelerates erosion. • Loss of coral reefs and seagrass beds seaward of the beach will also cause erosion. • Dinghies that are dragged up onto the beach also cause erosion. • Climate change – more frequent and stronger hurricanes may cause severe erosion.

Your part • Use dinghy moorings or tie up to docks. Don’t drag dinghies onto the beach; it accelerates erosion and can be a hazard. • Do not remove any sand. • Do not clear any vegetation off the beach. • Pick up your garbage.

Why are beaches important? • They create a barrier between the land and sea. • They provide access to the ocean. • Beaches buffer coastal areas from storm energy. • Beaches support a number of life forms such as mollusks, algae, plants and shorebirds. • Beaches hold the answers to past weather conditions and sea levels. • Beaches provide a recreational area. • Beaches enhance the tourist-based economy.

BVI Laws protecting beaches • It is illegal to remove sand from any beach without permission form the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour (Beach Protection Ordinance, 1985). • All beaches in the BVI can be accessed via boat; by law there are no “private” beaches (VI Resolution No. 7 of 1989). • All beaches accessible to the public are non-smoking under Schedule 4 of the VI Tobacco Products Control Regulations, 2007.

Where to see Believe it or not, there are over 150 “sandy” beaches in the BVI and another 100 or so “gravelly” beaches made up of volcanic cobble and coral rubble. Threats • Sea level rise. • Light pollution and habitat destruction along turtle nesting beaches.

• Participate in or organize your own beach cleanup. • Do not have a bonfire – especially on turtle nesting beaches. • Do not drive your vehicle on the beach; only emergency vehicles are allowed on the beach.

Fun facts • Beaches are dynamic. They can be dramatically altered depending on the time of year, changes in currents, weather systems or even development somewhere else along the coast. • Beachrock are the ledges of rock formed roughly between the low and high water marks and consist of sand grains cemented by calcium carbonate and formed by chemical processes. In some areas beachrock can be seen further offshore, indicating a time when the sea level was lower. In other areas, where it is within the tidal zone, tidal pools have formed and a variety of echinoderms (such as starfish and urchins) and mollusks can be found. • Beaches in the BVI have formed over the last 6000 years, since the end of the last ice age. • Rogue’s Bay, also locally called “Lava Flow”, is an ancient eolian (wind blown) dune, not volcanic lava.

Opposite: Keel Point beach, Anegada. Photo by S. Gore. Top: Boulder beach on the south side of Fallen Jerusalem. Photo by S. Gore. Middle: Rogues Bay ancient sand dune. Photo by S. Gore. Bottom: Leatherback turtle, "Trunk" tracks on Rogues Bay. Photo by S. Gore

• Long ago, turtles most likely nested on almost every sandy beach in the BVI.

For more information • •

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Red mangroves. Photo by J. Scheiner. Opposite Right: Mangrove walk at HLSCC. Photo by Lynda Varlack. Right: Mangrove replanting photo by CFD Staff. Right: Mangroves at Hans Creek Fishery Protected Area. Photo by S. Gore.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

What are mangroves? Mangroves are salt tolerant plants that grow along sheltered coastlines and are often associated with lagoons and salt ponds. In the BVI there are four types of mangroves: the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), and the grey mangrove (Conocarpus erectus). Red Mangroves Red mangroves are the dominant mangrove species. They grow directly in seawater on prop roots that arch above the water. These roots provide many juvenile aquatic animals a nursery area where they are well protected from predators. The red mangroves are unlike other mangroves in the way they reproduce. Their seeds sprout while they are still on the parent tree, and once the seedling is large enough it will fall off the tree into the water, where it may stick in the sand or be carried downstream by the water. Black Mangroves Black mangroves grow inland from red mangroves. They are easily identified by their specialized roots called pneumatophores (or snorkel roots), which grow upward from the ground. These serve as airways to provide oxygen to the roots. This species is probably the most utilized type of mangrove found around the BVI. The wood is used for such things as fence posts and fish pots, and it is burned for charcoal. White Mangroves White mangroves grow further inland than black mangroves and red mangroves. Unlike the red or black mangrove, the white mangrove does not have a visible aerial root system. To identify a white mangrove, the light green, elliptical leaves have two distinguishing glands at the base of the leaf blade where the stem begins. Leaves grow on opposite sides of each other from the same point on the stem. Buttonwood This type of mangrove is considered a peripheral species and is not a true mangrove. It is identifiable

by the flowers that resemble buttons and, unlike other mangroves; the leaves extend on branches in an alternate pattern. Why are mangroves important? • Mangroves provide shelter for boats during intense storms (Paraquita Bay can store up to 355 on permanent moorings during hurricane season). • Mangroves protect the land from wave action. • Mangroves protect the marine environment from soil runoff due to their complex root structure. • Mangroves build up the land by trapping sediments. • Mangroves serve as nursery grounds for countless marine species. • Mangroves provide habitat for many species of birds.

There are a number of places to see mangroves around the BVI, but some of the most critically important sites include the following: Tortola Paraquita Bay, Witches Brew, Hodge’s Creek, Sea Cow’s Bay, Belmont Pond, Dubois Pt. Pond, Wickham’s Cay, Pockwood Pond, Chapel Hill, Slaney Point. Virgin Gorda Deep Bay Anegada East End, Flamingo Pond Beef Island Beef Island Channel north and south, Hans Creek, Trellis Bay Pond Jost Van Dyke East End Threats

Your part • Report any mangrove removal or oil spills near mangroves to the Conservation & Fisheries Department (494-3429) or Town & Country Planning (468-3701 ext. 2158 or 3146). • Pick up your trash. • Do not throw anything overboard. • Do not disturb nesting birds.

Fun facts • There are a number of areas where you will find PVC pipes sticking out of the water in shallow areas. These are red mangroves seedlings planted as part of the BVI National Parks Trust reforestation programme. Over 1000 red mangroves have been planted in the BVI since 1999. • The best place to see a mangrove forest is at the mangrove boardwalk at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College Marine Center in East End.

For more information, visit • • • • •

• Removal of mangroves for development. • Flooding kills mangroves due to inundation freshwater. • Pollution. • Oil spills.

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Snowy Egret and Great Egrets at the Hans Creek Salt Pond. Photo by T. Baily. Opposite Left: Flamingo chicks in Anegada Photo by Kevin Farley (www. Right: Flamingo Pond in Anegada. Photo by S. Gore.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

What are salt ponds? Salt ponds are a common feature of mangrove wetlands in the Caribbean. They are defined as coastal seawater ponds that accumulate sea-salts by evaporation, particularly in regions where precipitation is low. The geological formation of Caribbean salt ponds can be described in three steps:

continue to grow along the berm to completely enclose the pond. Continued sedimentation cuts off through-ground seawater seepage. The water in the shallow basin then evaporates during extended dry periods. Why are they important? • Provides storm protection and flood mitigation.

Reef crest formation Bays often have coral reefs forming across the entrance. Some of the corals with rapid growth rates can keep up with sea level rise and may break the surface to create an exposed reef crest. This crest becomes a barrier in which sediments are restricted from being transported out of the bay because wave energy landward of the bay is reduced. On the seaward side of the reef, waves bring coral rubble and sand, which eventually builds up the reef crest. Lagoon formation by mangrove growth and sediment accretion Red mangroves (Rhizopora mangle) colonize reef crests to form a complex network of roots that traps sediments and build land. It has also been demonstrated that mangrove cays are able to keep pace with rising sea levels. The combination and process of all these factors (reef growth, mangrove colonization, and sediment accretion) eventually expands the berm (protecting shelf) across the bay to form a lagoon. Sediments are washed down from the hillsides and sand is washed in by storms, which eventually lead to shallower water within the lagoon. Lagoon closure Sedimentation causes the lagoon to become shallower, and sand deposits may eventually block the entrance to the lagoon. Mangroves eventually

• Provides shoreline stabilization. • Provides erosion control. • Prevents sediments and nutrients from going into the ocean and smothering seagrass meadows and coral reefs. • Critical habitat and food resources for resident and migratory birds.

BVI Laws protecting salt ponds • No pollutants, poison or noxious substances may be put in the fresh, estuarine or fishery waters of the Virgin Islands (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec. 32).

Threats • Coastal development due to filling in the ponds. • Excavation of ponds to create marinas. • Island erosion. • Introduced animals such as feral cats and rats that kill bird chicks found near salt ponds.

Fun facts • The majority of BVI salt ponds are between two to seven times as saline as the sea, with Salt Pond on Salt Island being one of the most saline. • Bacteria in salt ponds give them their distinct odour and colour, ranging from reddishorange to bluish-green. Many invertebrates eat cyanobacteria and use the energy from this food to reproduce, which ensures a continued supply of food for the birds that visit the salt ponds. • Roseate flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) in Anegada were hunted to extinction over 50 years ago but 18 were reintroduced in 1992 from Bermuda. Today approximately 140 flamingos and their chicks can be spotted thriving around the ponds in Anegada. Another six flamingos live in the pond on Guana Island, but two are often seen flying over Beef Island or wading in Josiah’s Bay pond. • Salt ponds are created (or were once created) at the bottom of steep watersheds on most islands in the BVI. • Bone’s Bight Pond, Red Pond, and Flamingo Pond in Anegada were declared a RAMSAR site in 1991. RAMSAR is a treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. • An example of past extreme storm or possibly tsunami activity can be seen in an “overwash fan” on the southern edge of the salt pond on Salt Island. Strong wave action caused rocks and coral rubble to be deposited on the landward side forming the land into a fan shape.

Your part • Report any activity in which a pond is being filled to the Conservation & Fisheries Department (494-3429) or Town & Country Planning (468-3701 ext. 2158 or 3146).

For more information • •

• Do not disturb any birds near salt ponds. • Pick up all you garbage and place in proper receptacles. Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



Left: Local Anegada fishermen knocking conch shells for the meat. Photo by N. Woodfield-Pascoe. Middle: Flyfishing. Photo by J. Scheiner. Right: Fish pot catch of the day. Photo by N. Woodfield-Pascoe.

What are the types of fisheries in the BVI? Fishing has been a tradition and important part of the culture of the BVI dating back to 400BC when the first known inhabitants of the islands existed. Artisanal (small scale commercial or subsistence fishing), pelagic and recreational fishing are the different types of fishing in the BVI. Artisanal fishing occurs on the shallow, near shore shelf surrounding the islands. (This shelf makes up part of the Puerto Rico – Virgin Islands bank that is defined by the 183m contour line around Puerto Rico, US and British Virgin Islands). Fishermen use small boats and traditional fishing methods, such as fish traps (known as fish and lobster “pots”), hook and line, and fishing nets (mainly gill nets and seine nets). Pelagic fishing (also called “deep sea fishing”) occurs within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and extends 200 miles north of the BVI and up to 50 miles southeast to the southern drop. A number of banks rise above the shelf floor that are also important for fishing and include the Barracuda Banks or the Sea Mount to the southeast of Virgin Gorda, and the Barracouta Banks and Whale Banks to the north of Jost Van Dyke. Pelagic fishing methods include long lining and trawling to catch the deepwater fish found offshore. Recreational fishing includes pleasure and sport fishing. Pleasure fishing is an amateur type of angling aimed at small fishes such as tarpon (Tarpon atlanticus) and bonefish (Albula vulpes), as well as many other fish found on the reef. Sport fishing is primarily a catch and release fishery aimed at billfish such as blue marlin (Makaira nigricans). 22

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

The increasing popularity of the sport fishing industry in the BVI is a high-income earner and could earn its own chapter here, but here are a few facts everyone needs to know: • During the 1950’s, bill fishing became popular in the USVI and Puerto Rico. Sadly, most bill fishing takes place in the waters of the British Virgin Islands, particularly the North Drop. • Efforts to understand billfish migration patterns and implementing sound management practices have been difficult due to the low number of returned tags. One study shows that between 1954 and 1988, 30% of the marlin tagged were ever recaptured, and according to the Billfish Foundation (, out of over 127,000 billfish tagged between 1990 and 2005, less than 2% were ever recaptured. • Research suggests that reviving billfish prior to their release increases their chances for survival. The possibility that billfish do not survive the hours of trauma caused by the exhaustive fight against sport fishers is real. More and more research has ensued concerning the physical and physiological consequences of capture and release, and chances are billfish are either left to succumb to lethal alterations in blood chemistry if they are not revived prior to release or their weakness leaves them vulnerable to predators such as tiger sharks known to exist off the North Drop.

Why are the fisheries important? The BVI has approximately 500 different species of reef and pelagic fish. This provides an opportunity

for the economy to become more diversified and for fisheries to become a larger industry in the BVI. (The twin pillars of the BVI economy are financial services and tourism, while the fisheries industry could become the third pillar). The fisheries industry is important for food and recreation for both visitors and local residents. The tourism industry relies upon fisheries for supplying hotels and restaurants with fresh local fish, as well as for the attraction it provides for the dive and charter boat industries. BVI Laws that protect the fisheries • Anyone who wants to fish in the BVI MUST apply for a fishing license through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour [(468-3701 ext. 2147 / 2137) (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003, Part I & Part II)]. • Any US boat found fishing in BVI waters without a license will not only be prosecuted in the BVI, but will most likely be prosecuted under US Federal Laws for bringing illegally caught fish into US waters under the Lacey Act. • You cannot take live animals (this includes coral) out of the BVI without permission. The Lacey Act also applies, and many countries have very strict laws about importing live species. In fact the US and UK will not only confiscate some items, but may also throw you in jail. • The Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) states specific species that cannot be transported internationally. This includes a number of shells. If you are not sure, contact CFD (494-3429).

Large school of cottonmouth jacks. Photo by T. Hucul.

FISHERIES • It is illegal to cut lines marking fish pots as well as “setting the fish free” from marked pots (VI Fisheries Regulation, 2003 Sec. 41). • It is illegal to catch a billfish and NOT release it (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec. 54). • As a “best management practice,” it is important to know how to revive billfish. Ask the tour operator if he “revives” the fish prior to release. If not, find another operator. • See the section “Marine Related Laws of the BVI” for more information on BVI laws.

Threats • Because the fisheries are part of a very complex ecosystem, anything that affects the fisheries can also have an adverse effect on marine habitats and vice versa. • Ocean pollution can kill pelagic fish. • Marina developments cause loss of juvenile habitat and coastal defense. • Residential/ recreational development causes sewage and detergent outflow into fishery waters.

threatens fishery habitats. • Agricultural activities add nutrients into shallow waters.

Your part • Make sure your boat is registered and you have a fishing license! • Know the BVI fishery laws (see the “Marine Related Laws of the BVI” section). • Notify the Conservation & Fisheries Department for any illegal fishing activity (494-3429). • Make sure billfish are revived prior to release. It ensures a better chance of survival. • Feeding the fish is like giving a wild dog a bone. It will keep coming back. Eventually its friends, much bigger shark friends, will follow…

being cut or lost during storms or natural causes. These traps are death traps and fish continue to become trapped and die. • The annual meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute is held every year to promote the preservation and sustainability of fisheries throughout the Caribbean. It was held in the BVI in 2003. • “Pots” are marked by some type of buoy (floats, plastic containers) on the surface of the water. A trap is like a cage made primarily of wire. It sometimes contains more than one entrance, through which marine species enter but are unable to find their way out. Fish are enticed into the traps by bait and by the presence of other fish. It is required by law in the BVI that all fish traps contain at least one biodegradable panel.

Fun facts • The BVI Fishing Complex located in Port Purcell is a major fish-landing site for local fishermen. The store is open to the general public and sells fresh local fish.

• Dredging causes total destruction of fishery habitats.

• “Fisherman’s Day” is an annual event held the first Monday in July at Long Bay, Beef Island to honour local BVI Fishermen and their craft.

• Sand mining causes coastal erosion that ultimately

• “Ghost traps” are traps that are lost due to

For more information • • •

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


In a nutshell, marine mammals include a number of unique and completely unrelated groups of mammals that depend on the ocean for part or all of their survival. These include cetaceans (whales and dolphins), pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walrus), sirenians (manatees & dugongs), and marine carnivores (otters & polar bears). Why are marine mammals important? • Historically, marine mammals have served as a socio-economic resource for traditional subsistence fisheries and have played an important part in the folklore and tradition of West Indian culture. • Marine mammals are also important indicators of the overall health of the marine environment. They also play an important role in local food webs. • Marine mammals have an inherent aesthetic and amenity value that can potentially contribute to local economies through whale / dolphin watching tours.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Opposite: Bottlenose dolphins are often seen in the BVI. Photo by A. Jenik. Left: Mother and calf humpback whales. Photo by J. Scheiner. Below: The fluke of a humpback whale. Photo by J. Scheiner. Below: Humpback seen in the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Photo by George & Luana Marler. Below: Rescue attempt of a manatee from Biras Creek in 2002. Photo by A. Mignucci-Giannoni. Below: Rare sighting of an escaped sea lion in Anegada, 2006. Photo by W. Magnum. Seal Dog islands were once believed to be inhabited by Caribbean Monk Seals. Photo by. Nancy Woodfield-Pascoe.

What marine mammals are found in the BVI? This list was compiled from both in-house data files from sightings called in to the BVI Conservation & Fisheries Department since the 1980’s, as well as a review of published scientific literature.


Scientific Name

Common Name

Balaenoptera physalus Balaenoptera borealis Balaenoptera edeni Balaenoptera acutorostrata Megaptera novaeangliae

Baleen Whales Fin Whale * (Mysticeti) Sei Whale * Bryde’s Whale Minke Whale Humpback Whale * Toothed Whales and Sperm Whale * Dolphins (Odontoceti) Pygmy Sperm Whale Dwarf Sperm Whale Melon-headed Whale False Killer Whale Pygmy Killer Whale Shortfin Pilot Whale Cuvier’s or Goosebeak Whale Antillean Beaked Whale Densebeak Whale Killer Whale Roughtooth Dolphin Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Spinner Dolphin Bottlenose Dolphin Striped Dolphin Shortsnout Saddleback Dolphin Longsnout Saddleback Dolphin Risso's Dolphin

Physeter macrocephalus Kogia breviceps Kogia sima Peponocephala electra Pseudorca crassidens Feresa attenuata Globicephala macrorhynchus Ziphius cavirostris Mesoplodon europaeus Mesoplodon densirostris Orcinus orca Steno bredanensis Stenella frontalis Stenella attenuata Stenella longirostris Tursiops truncatus Stenella coeruleoalba Delphinus delphis Delphinus capensis Grampus griseus

Sirenians West Indian Manatee *

Trichechus manatus manatus


Otaria flavescens Monachus Tropicalis Cystophora critata

Southern Sea lion (escaped) Caribbean Monk Seal (extinct) Hooded Seal (stray) * Endangered Species

This list might seem long, but some of these marine mammals are not seen on a regular basis. For instance, in the summer of 2006, the only Southern Sea Lion ever seen in the BVI was spotted off the island of Anegada. A few days earlier a sea lion had been spotted in northeastern Puerto Rico. Since their natural range does not expand this far north,

this sea lion was most likely the same sea lion that escaped an interactive programme in the Dominican Republic a few weeks earlier and was traveling southeastward. The animal was eventually captured in Puerto Rico and is presently at the Mayaguez Zoo. (See also the “Strandings” section to see more rare sightings). Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


This hooded seal, named "Wadadli", was successfully rescued in Antigua and released back to Maine & Canada. Sightings of seals in the BVI are rare but any sightings need to be reported to the Conservation & Fisheries Department immediately. Photo by Laura Magruder

BVI Laws protecting marine mammals • It is illegal to take, harm or fish for any marine mammal in BVI waters. This could include harassment (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec. 29).

a simple majority for the first time in two decades, but were unsuccessful in obtaining enough votes to lift the 1986 moratorium banning whaling. The Caribbean countries of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines all voted to reintroduce whaling.

What threats do marine mammals face? • Vessel strikes • Debris ingestion • Accidental catches in active and discarded fishing gear • Hunting & poaching • Live capture for display purposes • Land and ocean pollution • Underwater noise pollution • Habitat loss

The International Whaling Commission The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was founded in 1946 with a purpose to develop a regulatory body over whaling industries in order to promote the conservation of worldwide whale stocks. In 1986 a moratorium was placed on all whaling activities; however, some countries are given permission to hunt whales. Japan hunts whales due to the “scientific research” they conduct, and an exemption allows indigenous communities such as the Inuit tribe in Alaska to hunt whales. St. Vincent & the Grenadines is the only Caribbean country that has permission under the IWC to carry out a traditional subsistence hunt for whales with a quota of 4 per year by aboriginal whalers. During the 2006 annual IWC meeting held in St. Kitts, Japan and its pro-whaling allies managed to attain 26

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Strandings Infections, injuries or disorientation are common reasons for marine mammals to strand or beach themselves. Mass strandings are believed to be due to the strong social bonds among individuals that might cause otherwise healthy animals to follow a sick or disoriented animal ashore. There have been several strandings as well as rare sightings of marine mammals out of their normal range in the BVI. These are just a few of the most notorious strandings in the BVI: • After hurricane Marilyn passed over the BVI in 1995, five pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuate) stranded in Trellis Bay. They were guided back out to sea, but three returned and subsequently died. It is believed they stranded because they had become disoriented after the hurricane. • An unidentified species of seal was sighted off Virgin Gorda in 1995. In 1996 another hooded seal (Cystophora critata) stranded in St. John, USVI. • In 1999 12 pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) stranded on the island of Anegada, most likely due to military training in the area. • In 2003 a manatee (Trichechus manatus) was captured in Biras Creek, Virgin Gorda. It was 75 miles out of its normal range and was assessed to have been underweight and dehydrated. “Ochi”(Czech meaning sea cow), was flown to

the Caribbean Stranding Network in San Juan for treatment. However, it died several days later.

Your part In order to increase the chances of survival, if you notice a marine mammal that has stranded itself onshore or sight a manatee or seal, please notify the Conservation and Fisheries Department immediately. 284 494 3429 or 284 468 3701 ext. 5555 What to do if you see a whale Whether it’s your first time spotting a whale or your 100th time, it is always an incredible experience to see such a majestic animal. Your first reaction is probably going to be to get as close to the animal as possible. Bad idea. As more and more boats come to the islands, more and more people want to get as close to these creatures as possible, so many animals are now moving to areas with less boat traffic. Before you follow the whales and dolphins, please remember these simple steps to ensure they continue to migrate through the Territory. • Stay at least 100 yards away from a whale. This also applies to swimmers and divers who should not get into the water with whales (being so close can disturb whales and may be VERY dangerous). • NEVER allow a boat or person to come between a mother and a calf. (Disruption of parental care may reduce a calf's chance of survival and mothers will be aggressive). • Avoid speeds over 10 knots or sudden changes in speed or direction within 1500 feet of a whale. • When paralleling or following whales, do not travel faster than the slowest whale as they are

easily startled by unfamiliar objects and may have come from areas where contacts with boats are rare. • If your vessel causes the whale to change direction, this disturbance can eventually drive whales away from critical habitats for them to feed and breed. • Calling other boats to a whale will frighten or aggravate whales. Make sure an arc of 180+degrees is open in front of the whales. • If whales approach within 100 yards of your vessel, put engine in neutral until whales are observed at the surface, clear of the vessel. (This avoids the risk of injury to the whale or damage to the vessel by a frightened whale.) • If you see a whale or dolphin - call the Conservation & Fisheries Department to report a sighting! This is the only way we can understand their migration patterns and their population abundance!

Fun Facts • There have been at least 12 hooded seals from the Atlantic arctic that have stranded in the Caribbean. • The most important marine mammal occurence in the BVI is the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). They migrate from the Acrctic waters in the north down to the Caribbean to mate and breed from December to April. They are known for their eerie but beautiful "songs" males sing to find mates. • Little is known about the Caribbean Monk Seal (Monachus tropicalis) due to its rapid extirpation (no longer found in a particular area) and extinction (unidentified seals have been seen in the Caribbean but were most likely hooded seals or escaped sea lions) , probably due to the rapid colonization of Americas. This particular seal was hunted extensively and considered rare by mid-1800. The last confirmed sighting was in Columbia, South America in 1952. • Caribbean monk seals historically existed from as far north as the coast of Georgia (USA), throughout the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as far south as the northern coast of South America and as far east as Guyana. • It was once common for early explorers to name localities based on observations of animals or other features of the location. Because seals were commonly called sea dogs or sea wolves, islands bearing names with “seal” “dog” or “wolf ” (translations from other nationalities) are thought to be suggestive of the former range of monk seals. • The Dog Islands in the BVI, particularly East and West Seal Dog, were possibly former haul-out and/or pupping sites.

For more information

Humpback and calf. Photo by George & Luana Marler

• • • • •

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


There are seven species of sea turtles that have survived more than 100 million years of evolution. They are reptiles and include the Kemp's Ridley, Flatback, Green, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, Hawksbill and the Leatherback turtles. Three are known to nest in the BVI: the hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles. Hawksbill and green turtles also forage in the BVI and an occasional loggerhead is also seen in BVI waters.


Hawksbill turtle over the reef. Photo by A. Jenik.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

A Turtle’s Life In general, sea turtles reach maturity at about 2530 years of age. Up until maturity it is not possible to determine their sex but once mature, males have a much longer tail. Courtship and mating occur near the nesting beach and when the female is ready to lay her eggs, she comes ashore to the same beach at which she was born. The female digs a nest about a meter deep and lays approximately 100 eggs. Females will nest several times during the season, laying hundreds of eggs, but do not nest every year. Normally females nest every two to three years. About two months later, hatchlings emerge from the nest and make their way to the sea. Once in the water they instinctively swim out to the open ocean.

the BVI for centuries, but formal documentation of these events didn’t begin until the early 1980’s when the Conservation & Fisheries Department was established in the BVI. In the early days of the programme, dedicated CFD staff spent countless hours on trunk, green and hawksbill nesting beaches in hopes of finding a turtle or her tracks. Those early records provided turtle species, date and location of nesting, as well as measurements of turtles or their tracks. However, little to no information was known about foraging turtles except for catch statistics reported by local turtle fishermen. In recent years, the marine turtle monitoring and awareness program has developed in the BVI. With CFD staff coordinating and leading the way, along with the help of international and regional agencies

. . . many questions remain unanswered, and the threat of never fully understanding the life cycle of turtles remains as turtle populations continue to decline. It is unclear how the hatchlings survive during the next several years (the “lost years”), but some species have been found in mats of seaweed floating in open ocean currents. After a number of years, the young turtles migrate into their juvenile foraging ground in coastal waters, most likely far from their nesting or natal beach. Within their foraging ground, turtles can be from many different nesting beaches. Once they reach sexual maturity, they migrate to their adult foraging ground. This location may be hundreds to thousands of miles away from their juvenile foraging grounds. The life stages of turtles are complex, and the more data collected from nesting and foraging turtles the better the chances of the puzzle being solved. The first tagging programme began in the 1950’s in Costa Rica and continues around the world today. However, many questions remain unanswered, and the threat of never fully understanding the life cycle of turtles remains as turtle populations continue to decline. Why are turtles important? The people of the BVI have always had a close relationship with turtles. Sea turtles have not only provided locals with food, but sea turtles have also been culturally significant. For instance, the oil from the leatherback (known locally as the “trunk”) is considered an important medicine for respiratory ailments. Sea turtles are also a popular tourist attraction for visiting boats and have added to the diversity of the islands. Because turtles migrate immense distances between breeding and foraging grounds, they are shared resources of numerous countries; therefore their conservation depends on international cooperation. BVI Laws protecting sea turtles • It is illegal to kill, possess, sell or buy turtle products during the closed season from Dec 1 March 31 (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec. 22). • It is a serious offence to bring turtle products into the US or UK.

What turtles are found in the BVI? Sea turtles have been foraging and nesting in

such as the Darwin Initiative, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Marine Conservation Society, the Marine Turtle Research Group and WIDECAST, a number of different projects are currently in progress. These projects include: • Trunk monitoring at nesting beaches • In-water capture of hawksbill and green turtles (tag & release) • Genetic sampling

be released. • Sea level, increased temperatures and increased intensity and numbers of storms will impact nesting beaches and foraging sites. • Degradation of reefs, seagrass beds, as well as increased coastal development threatens nesting and foraging sea turtles. • During all stages of life, sea turtles are threatened by predators (human and natural) on nesting beaches as well as foraging sites. • Boat propellers, even when going slow can kill a turtle.

Your part • While diving, do not harass turtles – you can scare them, and since they breathe air you can actually drown them. • Do not throw plastics (or anything at all) overboard. Turtles eat jellyfish and often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. • Notify Conservation & Fisheries of any turtle that appears injured and unable to dive. Chances are a boat struck it. They are very strong animals and are capable of surviving such injuries, but CFD needs to be notified. • Notify CFD of ANY turtle nesting activity, even if you only see the tracks (494-3429). There are a number of remote areas that CFD staff is unable to check every day and this type of activity is entered into our database. • While night diving, do not shine your lights into their eyes, they are very sensitive. • Do not buy turtle products, they are illegal to possess in most countries.

• Monitoring of green & hawksbill nesting sites

Fun facts In October 2001 the TCOT (Turtles of the Caribbean Overseas Territories) Project was launched in all six UK overseas territories to assess the status of endangered marine turtles in the Caribbean. Through this project, CFD staff was trained in turtle biology, conservation, monitoring and research techniques. This project also provided tagging equipment for both nesting and foraging turtles, which brought a new dimension to turtle monitoring in the BVI. All sea turtles caught both in the water or while nesting on the beach are tagged with flipper tags and injected with a small microchip that can permanently identify a turtle. The use of tags allows CFD scientists to not only count the number of turtles in the BVI but also monitor their growth and movement patterns. All turtles also have a DNA sample taken in order to determine its genetic makeup and ultimately where it came from. Turtles that nest on the same beach have a similar genetic makeup, comparable to how human families have similar genes. Lastly, blood sampling helps to determine the sex of a foraging turtle. On several occasions a satellite transmitter has also been attached to a nesting turtle.

• Over 500 turtles are tagged in the BVI. • Turtle kraals (Dutch for corral) were man-made structures built prior to refrigeration and used to keep seafoods fresh. Several can still be seen in the BVI. • Hawksbills are the most common foraging turtle and nesting turtle in the BVI. • Green turtles are the largest of the hard-shelled turtles; they can reach a length of about four feet. • Leatherbacks are the largest of all turtles but have a soft shell with seven prominent ridges. The largest leatherback ever recorded stranded in southern Wales in 1988. He was over eight feet in length and weighed over 2000 pounds. • The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the hatchling. • Archelon ischyros was the largest turtle known to inhabit earth 70 million years ago. It reached a width of nearly 15 feet and weighed 3-4 tons.

For more information • • •

Threats • For decades, sea turtles were over harvested and populations around the world have declined.

• • •

• Sea turtles are often accidentally caught in nets or hooked by long lines and drown before they can Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008




First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Opposite: Magnificent frigatebird. Photo by Andy McGowan. Left: Roseate Terns. Photo by T. Baily. Right: Brown booby at Great Tobago. Photo by N. Woodfield-Pascoe.

Because there are so many people that enjoy bird watching, this book wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning birds, seabirds in particular! Why are seabirds important The Puerto Rico bank (it includes Puerto Rico, the BVI and the US Virgin Islands except St. Croix) is considered one of the six primary endemic bird areas in the Caribbean and is a priority area for conservation. The Caribbean region has over 600 species of birds, including 22 species of seabirds; however, populations are thought to be only a fraction of their past levels. Fifteen species of seabird breed in the BVI, two of which have globally significant colonies and eight species with a regionally significant population.

** Common tern (Sterna hirundo)

• Do not remove any bird eggs.

** Least tern (Sterna antillarum)

• If you notice a number of dead birds, contact CFD (494-3429) immediately to ensure Avian flu is not the cause.

** Bridled tern (Sterna anaethetus)

BVI Laws that protect birds It is illegal in the BVI to kill, injure or take any wild bird or take, damage or destroy any wild bird egg or nest (Wild Bird Protection Cap. 96, 1959). Threats to seabirds • Habitat loss • Human disturbance • Development and tourism activities

Breeding seabirds in the BVI….

• Predators such as rats and feral cats

• Audubon’s shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri) • Red-billed tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus)

Your part

• White-tailed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus)

• Dispose of garbage properly

• Brown noddy (Anous stolidus)

• Notify CFD (494-3429) or the National Parks Trust (494-2069) on nesting sea birds, particularly if you find any other seabirds not listed

• Cayenne tern (Sterna eurygnatha) * Magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) * Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) ** Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) ** Brown booby (Sula leucogaster) ** Laughing gull (Larus atricilla) ** Gull-billed tern (Sterna nilotica) ** Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

__________________________ * 2 globally significant colonies ** 8 regionally significant colonies

• Take part in the Annual Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the National Parks Trust (494-2069).

Fun facts • Brown pelicans display a chestnut colored neck against a silvery gray body during breeding periods. • Locally, roseate terns are called “bonito birds.” • Brown boobies are clumsy when it comes to taking off or landing, but are generally powerful and agile fliers. • Laughing gulls arrive in the BVI the 1st of April and leave Sept 30. • Notorious for stealing fish from other birds, frigate birds do not rest on the water because wet wings hinder their flying ability.

For more information • • •

• Stay away from nesting colonies during nesting season – if you get too close to the chicks, the adult birds will dive bomb you!

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



The BVI National Parks Trust (NPT) and the Conservation and Fisheries Department (CFD) have legislation that protects, preserves, and allows for the regeneration of marine habitats and breeding grounds of aquatic life. Recently, the National Parks Trust (NPT) and the Conservation and Fisheries Department (CFD) collaborated on an Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP) project entitled “Assessment & Improved Management of New and Existing Marine Protected Areas in the British Virgin Islands”. The overall goal of this two year project was to increase the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the BVI by scientifically identifying where these special areas should be. These activities included surveying the BVI marine environment and mapping different habitat types using geographic information systems (GIS), establishing monitoring sites at coral reef and seagrass areas across the BVI and mapping the seabed using acoustic equipment. A final map of the proposed MPAs was incorporated into the proposed NPT System Plan of Protected Areas for the BVI 2007-2017, which represents all marine and terrestrial areas proposed for protection. The plan aims to expand existing protected areas, clarify boundaries and explain uses for each area. The updated plan was submitted to the Government for approval, so that these critical habitats in the BVI can be conserved and managed sustainably. For these efforts, NPT received a prestigious award from the United States Coral Reef Task Force in October 2006. The NPT was recognized for its outstanding efforts to improve the management of marine resources in the BVI through the development of a network of marine protected areas with exemplary use of sound science and stakeholder input, the development of strong partnerships, and a commitment to multilateral environmental agreements. Although legislation is still pending on these proposed and additional protected areas, there are currently, three types of protected areas. These 32

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

include: Fishery Protected Areas, Fishery Priority Areas and Marine Parks.

• Santa Monica Rock, SW Norman Island • North Bay, Guana Island • Frenchman’s Cay

Fisheries Priority Areas Fisheries Priority Areas are designated locations set aside for registered and licensed vessels to fish. Snorkeling, diving and other recreational activities are prohibited. Anchorage is also prohibited except during times of storms and hurricanes. These areas include (some do not include the entire bay) : • Great Harbour, Peter Island • The Bight, Norman Island • Benures Bay, Norman Island • Frenchman’s Cay • West Guana Island • Great Camanoe

Fishery Protected Areas Fishery Protected Areas (also commonly known as Marine Protected Areas) are reserves to protect and preserve breeding grounds and habitats of aquatic life. All human activity (except snorkeling) is prohibited in these areas. These areas include: • Horseshoe Reef • Hans Creek, Beef Island • Beef Island Channel

Marine Parks Marine Parks are managed by the National Parks Trust under the Virgin Islands National Parks Act, No. 4 of 2006. There is currently only one marine park in the BVI, established in 1980. The Wreck of the Rhone Marine Park includes the submerged wreck of the Royal Mail Steamer Rhone, which sank in 1867, and extends across to the island of Dead Man’s Chest. The anchor of the RMS Rhone, also a part of the Marine Park, is located on the seafloor at the entrance to Great Harbour, Peter Island. The park includes the dive sites of Blonde Rock and Painted Walls, to form a total park area of 798 acres. Section 49 of the National Parks Act, 2006 lists all of the prohibited activities within a park or protected area. The activities of direct reference to marine areas include the following. ‘A person shall not’: • Obstruct, pollute, or divert any ghut, river, coastal waters, or any other body of water. • Discharge or dispose of any sewage. • Discharge toxic or other hazardous substance, including petroleum and household cleaners.

• South Sound. Virgin Gorda

• Remove any living or dead coral from any coastal area.

• Taylor Bay, Virgin Gorda

• Use or have in possession a spear-fishing gun.

• The Sound, Salt Island

• Anchor or fish in the RMS Rhone Marine Park.

• The Sound, Ginger Island

• Remove any artifacts / marine life from any historic shipwreck.

• Dead Chest • Big Reef, Peter Island • Green Cay, Jost Van Dyke • Money Bay, Norman Island

Contact the National Parks Trust for more information (494-3904 or 494-2069)

Snorkeling at the Caves, Norman Island. Photo by J. Scheiner. Opposite Left: Spearfishing is STRICTLY prohibitted. Photo by George & Luana Marler. Right: FPAs are marked with buoys like this one. Photo provided by The Moorings.


Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Left: Queen Conch. Photo by A. Jenik. Right: Spiny Lobster. Photo by N. Woodfield-Pascoe. Opposite Left: Although these might make nice decorations for your house, it is illegal to carry them out of the country. Photo by T. Hucul. Right: Hawksbill turtle. Photo by CFD staff.

Applying for a Fishing License (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Part I & Part II) All BV Islanders, non-belongers and visitors boating in the BVI and wanting to fish are required to obtain a Certificate of Registration and Fishery License from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. There are three types of local fishing licenses, namely a commercial fishing license, a pleasure fishing license and a sport fishing license. The commercial license is for BV Islanders only and is for the sale of the boat’s catch. Recreational licenses limit the catch to 30 pounds of fish per boat per day. Under the sport fishing license, fish caught is on a catchand –release basis but is still also allowed the maximum retention of 30 pounds per boat. However, billfish such as blue marlin (Makaira nigricans), white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus), sailfish (Istiophorus americus) and swordfish (Xiphias gladius) must be released. All licenses can be obtained through the Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour. A temporary fishing license, which is valid for one month, may be obtained for a fee. Application forms may be requested and returned via fax (1-284-494-4283) and must be accompanied by a copy of a valid photo ID (passport or driver’s license). In the near future, licenses will be made easier to obtain


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

for those visiting the BVI at all ports of entry. Conditions of license are set forth by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and pleasure fishing licenses do not allow taking of lobsters, conch, turtles or whelk at any time. Moratoriums Fishing for, exposing for sale, purchase or at any time having in his possession at any time the following species (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec 27): • Jew fish (Epinephelus itajara) • Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) • Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) Prohibited Fishing Methods The following prohibited fishing falls under the VI Fisheries Regulation, 2003 Part VII: • In the BVI it is illegal to use or carry onboard a fishing vessel any spear gun, SCUBA equipment, explosive, poison or other noxious substance for fishing in the fishery waters. There is a maximum fine of $15,000 for this violation. • No person shall haul, take away, empty or cast adrift or destroy any fishing equipment belonging to some other person without their consent. • Remove fish from any type of fishing equipment. • Billfish must be released.

Anyone witnessing the harvesting or practicing of any ILLEGAL methods in the British Virgin Islands waters, should contact the Conservation and Fisheries Department (494-3429) or Marine Police (468-3701 ext. 3604 / 3607) immediately . Pollution Under the VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003, it is illegal to put any poisonous or noxious substance or other pollutant into the fresh, estuarine or fisheries waters of the BVI. This covers a number of pollutants so please dispose of in proper receptacles. There are numerous marina locations where trash can be disposed of but some areas do charge a small fee per bag. Also see the “Garbage & Sewage” section under “Best Conservation Practices”. Under the Litter Abatement Act, 1987, a person can be fined $500 for littering in the Territory. This includes litter that has accumulated on private property, littering from a moving vehicle, transporting garbage so that it litters the roadsides and placing litter on private property.

Souvenirs If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir to take home with you from the Caribbean, be

aware that what you buy could affect the environment you have come to enjoy. A number of plant and wildlife products you see for sale might come from sustainably managed populations, but you may need permits to take certain species out of the BVI (export) or to carry them into other countries (import). If the product is endangered or illegally taken, it could be confiscated and you could even receive a fine. A number of species found in the BVI are protected under BVI laws as well as under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). This treaty is signed by over 160 nations and monitors and regulates international trade of wildlife and wildlife products. Currently, 827 species of animals and plants are banned from international trade and a further 32,840 are strictly controlled. These include many types of corals, plants (such as orchids and cacti), shells (such as Queen Conch), live reptiles, live birds (some feathers) and all turtle products. If you are not sure if a product is illegal, don’t bother buying it. The country in which you came from

could have strict laws about importing wildlife. Possibly a bad ending to a good holiday! If you have questions, contact the Conservation & Fisheries Department (494-3429) or the Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour (468-3701 ext. 2147 / 2137). • Live coral, sponge or algae cannot leave the country without written permission from the Chief Conservation & Fisheries Officer (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Sec. 28). • Importing Queen Conch shells into the US or the UK requires a CITES export permit from the BVI. See the CITES website for information on importing to any other countries. • All historic shipwrecks (over 50 years) and their artifacts cannot be removed from the Territory. This includes wrecks within the 200 nautical mile exclusive fisheries zone (National Parks Act 2006 sec. 36).

For more information, visit:

CLOSED FISHING SEASONS Under the Virgin Islands Fisheries Regulations 2003, no person shall take from the fishery waters, expose for sale, purchase or at anytime have in his possession the following species during the closed season unless the Minister of Natural resources & Labour publishes otherwise in the Gazette and in a newspaper circulating the Territory:


Aug 15 – Oct 31

(Strombus gigas)


Aug 15 – Oct 31

(Cittarium pica)

Margate fish

Jan 1- Mar 31

(Haemulon album)

Nassau Grouper

Mar 1- May 31

(Epinephelus straiatus)

Green & Hawksbill Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Red Hind (Epinephelus guttatus)

Apr 1-Nov 30 Jan 1- Mar 31


Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus)

Jul 31 – 31 Oct

(Only the holder of a commercial fishing license may fish for conch, whelk, turtle or lobster when the season is open.) Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



Use of National Parks Trust mooring buoys The BVI National Parks Trust manages the marine environment through the BVI Marine Conservation Programme. Over 200 moorings are established throughout the Territory in order to prevent anchor damage on fragile coral reefs and seagrass beds. All boats must purchase a Marine Conservation Permit to use these moorings from NPT (57 Main Street, Road Town, Tortola; Tel: 494-3904 / 2069), from any charter company, or from Customs at all ports of entry. • Boats are required to use NPT mooring buoys at dive sites and must purchase a Marine Conservation Permit for their use (Marine Parks & Protected Areas Regulations, 1991). While using a NPT mooring, overnight use is not permitted, it is illegal to fish and there is a 90 minute time limit • Use with caution. NPT moorings should not be used during times of severe weather or rough waves.

Buoys are color coded! • Yellow / White – Commercial vessels / divers

you are not sure, ask someone onshore such as at the nearest marina or restaurant. Anchoring There are specific laws regarding anchoring in the Wreck of the Rhone Marine Park under the Marine Parks and Prohibited Areas Regulations, 1991. You are not allowed to anchor within the Marine Park or within a Fishery Protected or Priority Area (VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003 Part IX). See the Section “Marine Related Laws of the BVI”. Anchoring on a reef or seagrass bed can potentially be UNSAFE for you and your boat. (See the coral reef and seagrass sections.) Find a sandy patch if you have to anchor and make sure the chain is not rubbing against or tangles around any coral head. With approximately 1000 charter boats in the BVI, imagine if each boat anchored on a reef at least once each week for a year. Diving and Snorkeling Taken from the Project AWARE Foundation Copyright Project AWARE Foundation 2007. All rights reserved. Printed with permission of Project AWARE Foundation.

• Orange – Snorkel & Day Use • Blue – Dinghies dock lines

All other mooring buoys are privately installed to prevent damage to the sea bed. They are available throughout the Territory on a fee per night basis. However, there are a few privately owned moorings (usually very different from other moorings in the field) that are owned specifically by local boat owners and may not be used by anyone except the owner. If 36

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

TIPS FOR DIVERS • Dive carefully in fragile aquatic ecosystems such as coral reefs. Many aquatic organisms are fragile and are harmed by the bump of a tank, knee or camera, a swipe of a fin or even the touch of a hand. By being careful you can prevent devastating and long-lasting damage to magnificent dive sites. • Be aware of your body and equipment placement

when diving. Keep your gauges and alternate air source secured so they don’t drag over the reef or bottom. Control your buoyancy, taking care not to touch fragile organisms with your body or equipment. • Keep your dive skills sharp with continuing education. Before heading to the reefs, seek bottom time with a certified professional in a pool or other environment that won’t be damaged. Or refresh your skills and knowledge with a PADI Scuba Review, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course or Project AWARE Specialty course. • Consider how your interactions effect aquatic life. Resist the temptation to touch, handle, feed and even hitch rides on certain aquatic life. Your actions may cause stress to the animal, interrupt feeding and mating behavior or provoke aggressive behavior in normally nonaggressive species. • Understand and respect underwater life. Using them as toys or food for other animals can leave a trail of destruction, disrupt local ecosystems and rob other divers of experiencing these creatures. Consider enrolling in a Project AWARE Underwater Naturalist Specialty course to understand sustainable interactions. • Resist the urge to collect souvenirs. Dive sites can be depleted of their resources and beauty in a short time. If you want to return from dives with souvenirs, consider underwater photography. • If you hunt and/or gather game, obey all fish and game laws. Local laws are designed to ensure the reproduction and survival of these animals. As an underwater hunter, understand your effect on the environment and respect the rights of other divers in the area who are not hunting.

• Report environmental disturbances or destruction of your dive sites. As a diver, you are in a unique position to monitor the health of local waterways. Report these observations to responsible authorities in your country. • Be a role model for other divers in diving and nondiving interaction with the environment. As a diver, you see the underwater results of carelessness and neglect. Set a good example in your own interactions and other divers and nondivers will follow suit. • Get involved in local environmental activities and issues. You affect your corner of the planet. There are plenty of opportunities to show your support of a clean aquatic environment, including participating in local beach and underwater cleanups, attending public hearings that impact local water resources and supporting environmental legislative issues.

TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS • Photograph with Care. Dive carefully as many aquatic creatures are fragile regardless of size. Improper techniques while taking or editing photos underwater can damage sensitive aquatic life and harm fragile organisms with the bump of a camera or tank, swipe of a fin or even the touch of a hand. • Dive Neutral. Camera systems may add weight or be buoyant. Make sure to secure photo and dive equipment and be properly weighted to avoid contact with reefs or other vital habitat. Practice buoyancy control and photography skills in a pool before swimming near sensitive and fragile environments. • Resist Temptation. Avoid touching, handling, feeding, chasing or riding aquatic life. Avoid altering an organism’s location to get the perfect shot. Many aquatic creatures are shy and easily stressed. These actions may interrupt feeding, disturb mating or provoke aggression in a normally nonaggressive species. • Easy Does It. While diving, move slowly and deliberately through the water. Be patient and still while photographing – allow organisms to show their natural behavior for a more significant and meaningful shot.

• Sharpen Your Skills. Make sure the difficulty of the dive and the environmental conditions are appropriate for your current skills and comfort level. Avoid stabilizing underwater by grabbing onto the reef for a better photo. Enroll in PADI’s Underwater Photographer, Digital Underwater Photography and Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty courses to become a more skilled and successful photographer. • Be Informed. Be aware of local regulations and protocols regarding behavior around marine mammals and other species before entering the water. These regulations protect creatures and aim to assure their preservation for future generations. • Be an AWARE Diver. Consider enrolling in an AWARE - Coral Reef Conservation, Project AWARE Specialty or Underwater Naturalist course to learn sustainable dive techniques and increase knowledge about the environment you’re photographing. • Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Bubbles. Avoid souvenir collection. Nearly everything found in the aquatic realm is alive or will be used by a living creature. Removing specimens such as corals and shells can disturb the delicate balance and quickly deplete dive sites of both their resources and their beauty. • Share Your Images. Use images for conservation by reporting environmental disturbances or destruction using your photographs as evidence. Assist scientific research and improve resource management by contributing your photos to The Whale Shark Project and other monitoring programs. You may also submit your photos to Project AWARE. Your images have the power to change perspectives and influence conservation. • Conserve the Adventure. Join Project AWARE Foundation, the dive industry’s leading nonprofit environmental organization. Your support helps conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. Opposite: Ginger Steps at Gionger Island. Photo by J. Scheiner. Top: Whether snorkeling or diving, leave only bubbles. Photo by A. Jenik. Below: One of the largest single celled organisms in the world, sea pearls (Ventricaria ventricosus). Photo by A. Jenik.

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



Unfriendly Ingredients Alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols Ammonia Aromatic hydrocarbons Artificial colors: ex. FD&C Red #6 Benzalkonium chloride Cocamide DEA EDTA Fatty acid alkanol amides/amines Homosalate Napthalene NTA (banned in USA) O-benzyl-p-chlorophenol Optical brighteners (used to make clothes appear brighter or whiter) Paradichlorobenzene (PDCB) Petroleum distillates (napthas) Phosphates Polycarboxylates Polyethylene glycol (PEG) Quaternium 15 Xylene sulfonate

Provisioning for the eco-friendly boat Before you provision for your boat, think about the products you are going to buy. Most cleaning products (soaps, shampoos, detergents, etc.) end up in the water. Purchasing less harmful products helps conserve the environment for future generations to enjoy. Here are a few brand products sold locally at grocery stores and health food stores.


Commonly Found In

Non-biodegradable Toxic to marine ecosystem Non-biodegradable Toxic to marine fish and mammals Toxic to marine ecosystem Toxic to marine ecosystem Non-biodegradable, toxic to marine ecosystem Toxic to marine ecosystem Toxic to marine ecosystems Extremely toxic to marine ecosystems, non-biodegradable Non-biodegradable and toxic Toxic to marine ecosystems Toxic to fish Non-biodegradable Toxic to marine ecosystem Extremely toxic to marine ecosystems Non-biodegradable Non-biodegradable Toxic to marine ecosystems Non-biodegradable, toxic

All-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents Window cleaners and some face cleansers Degreasers and deodorizers. Many personal care products Anti-bacterial hand soaps and lotions Shampoos and cosmetics Laundry detergents, face cleansers

Alternative cleaning agents: • Instead of bleach, use Borax or hydrogen peroxide. • Instead of scouring powders, try baking soda and a little “elbow grease”. • Instead of fiberglass stain remover, try baking soda paste, scrub pad and “elbow grease”.

Shampoo: Suave and Suave Professionals, Salon

• Instead of window cleaner, try vinegar and lemon juice mixed with warm water.

Selectives, Finesse, Herbal Essences, JASÖN.

• Instead of Chrome cleaner, try apple cider vinegar to clean and baby oil to polish.

Conditioners: Herbal Essences, JASÖN.

• Instead of copper cleaner, try lemon or lime juice and salt.

Soap: Clearly Natural and most fragrance-free, colorfree brands are good as well as most olive, coconut, chamomile, castile, sea savon, or jojoba oil soaps (avoid mineral oil).

• Instead of shower cleaner, try baking soda, scouring cloth, warm water and a little “elbow grease”.

Body Wash: Herbal Essence.

• Instead of wood polish, try olive or almond oil.

Check labels to see if: • Products are sold in recyclable containers.

Shaving Lotion / Gel: ALBA.

• Products are produced without animal testing.

Deodorant: Nature’s Gate.

• Products are made of natural ingredients rather than synthetic.

Toothpaste: Nature’s Gate. Dishwashing Liquid: ECOVER; 7th Generation. Laundry Detergent: 7th Generation, ECOS, Dr. Bronners.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

• Products are non-toxic and biodegradable. • Products list all of their ingredients, be wary of those that don’t. • Products list primarily ingredients that a ten year old could pronounce or spell. • Label says “harmful or fatal if swallowed”, consider it even more so for the fish.

Shampoos and conditioners Sunscreens Deodorizers Imported cleaning and personal care products Hand soaps Laundry detergents Deodorizers Variety of cleaning and personal care products Laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners Laundry detergents, all-purpose cleaners Shampoos, conditioners, lotions Detergents, deodorizers, disinfectants All-purpose cleaners, detergents

Opposite: Tyre found on the reef at Great Thatch. Photo by N. Woodfield-Pascoe. Left: Feeding the fish disrupts their diet and can cause disease amongst the fish. Photo by J. Scheiner. Right: French grunts Photo by A. Jenik.

Garbage There are numerous locations where trash can be disposed of but some areas do charge a small fee per bag. Remember under the VI Fisheries Regulations, 2003, it is illegal to put any poisonous or noxious substance or other pollutant into the fresh, estuarine or fisheries waters of the BVI. This would include oil. Several other “best conservation practices” would include the following: • Waste oils from boats should be taken to the incinerator plant in Pockwood Pond and not placed next to or inside dumpsters. • Stow any loose items such as plastic bags and cans so they don’t end up overboard. • Bring back whatever you took out to sea. • Do not discard fishing line overboard. • Avoid taking plastic onboard such as six-pack rings, plastic bags, disposable plates, cups and cutlery. • Take your own Non disposable bags to the supermarket. • Dispose of cigarette butts in trash receptacles.

Sewage The BVI is notorious for not having laws regarding holding tanks but even if the laws aren’t changed immediately, boats with holding tanks should use the holding tanks and empty them offshore. This is one of the biggest issues in the BVI and instead of complaining about not having the laws to require tanks we can all do our part and use them. There is no law saying you can’t use them. Other “best conservation practices” include: • Rent from companies using holding tanks. • Use marine sanitation devices (MSD), such as holding tanks that are designed to prevent overboard discharge of sewage. Empty

offshore, not in harbors or bays. • Use onshore restrooms when at the dock. • Use pumpout facilities when they become available in the BVI, several marinas will be installing them in the near future. • Dispose of pet waste properly.

Feeding the fish For years, people have thrown leftover food into the water. Yes, it attracts fish and makes things interesting for those watching, but it can actually harm the fish. Here are six reasons why you shouldn’t feed the fish: • Food added to the water column alters the nutrient balance of the reef. It can cause a decline in water quality and clarity of the reef. • Feeding fish human food alters their natural feeding behaviour. Once they expect “handouts”, they will ignore their important roles within the ecosystem. This could ultimately result in algal overgrowth on corals. • Feeding night feeders during the day, such as snappers and jacks, causes a disruption in the natural predator-prey interactions that keep the circle of life on the reef in balance. • Hand fed fish at dive sites can cause the fish to become aggressive and therefore a nuisance to divers and snorkelers. • Human food we feed fish doesn't meet their nutritional requirements. This could cause the fish to become malnourished and more susceptible to lesions, sores and parasites around the mouth and gills. • Feeding the fish could bring in much bigger species looking for food, such as sharks.

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



Left: Tiger Shark. Photo by A. Jenik. Middle: Corals have a hard and jagged skeleton that can cause serious scrapes. Photo by S. Gore. Right: Caribbean reef squid can squirt ink but rarely pose any threat. Photo by J. Scheiner. Opposite: Moray Eel. Photo by J. Scheiner.

This is a list of marine life common in the waters around the BVI that could potentially have an adverse effect on someone. Some of these organisms are usually harmless, but their behaviour or the effects of a cut, scrape or puncture caused by an organism could be unpredictable. Effects of a sting or scrape can vary from a minor rash to extreme swelling to anaphylactic shock depending on a person’s own physiology so it is important to know what to do if you become injured. Information contained in this section was collected from the Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) website: Any further questions may be directed to the nonemergency medical questions hotline at: 1-800-4462671 or 1-919-684-2948, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm (ET). FOR EMERGENCIES WITHIN THE BVI, CONTACT THE VIRGIN ISLANDS SEARCH & RESCUE (VISAR) • Dial 767 • Dial 999 or 911 • Dial 494 4357 (494-HELP) • A distress call on VHF Channel 16

Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) Most instances of an attack are from hand feeding or spear fishing. Barracuda are quite curious, especially of shiny jewelry, and will follow you around but most likely will swim away, unless provoked. Barracuda turn dark in color when they become agitated so if you see one turning dark in color, slowly move away from it. • Bites can be extremely serious. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding and seek medical attention immediately.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Corals Coral scrapes are common injuries from marine life. Corals have a thin mucous covering over a rigid structure and if skin is rubbed against it, the soft live tissue will remain in the cut. Because it is living tissue, this may prolong the time it takes to heal. There are no extremely toxic species in the Caribbean. • Clean area thoroughly with soap and water. Hydrogen peroxide may also be used. Apply a topical antibiotic and cover. Repeat twice a day. In the case of an infection, (such as swollen lymph glands) seek medical attention.

Fire coral (Millepora spp.) Like jellyfish, fire corals give you an electrifying sting if you rub up against it. This is caused by stinging cells called nematocysts. Although DAN does not list it as a treatment, it is known by divers that the best remedy is to take sand and scrub it over the effected area. Believe it or not, the sand grains will help pull the stinging cells out of your skin; otherwise the stinging cells will continue to fire and you will have an annoying and itchy rash. • Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water and apply an anti-itch antibiotic 2-3 times daily.

Eels (Family Muraenidae) Eels always look as though they are ready to attack since their mouth is usually open but they are actually just breathing. However, sticking your finger into crevasses could potentially cause an eel to bite. • Bites can be extremely serious, apply pressure to stop the bleeding and use an antibiotic ointment to keep from becoming infected. If bleeding does not stop, seek medical attention.

Fire worms (Order Amphinomidae) Fire worms have tiny bristles that can break off into the skin and cause a painful and irritating rash. • If you know you have been stung by a fire worm, the best remedy is to apply a wide piece of tape over the affected area to lift the particles out. Shaving the area is another method. Use a topical antibiotic to keep from becoming infected. Jellyfish The Caribbean has a number of species of jellyfish but luckily, not as dangerous as those found in the Pacific Ocean. They contain stinging cells called nematocysts and depending on the species, size, time of year and other natural factors, the sting can be minor or so severe that the person stung may go into anaphylactic shock. Even broken off tentacles sometimes found on the beach can retain their toxicity and should not be touched. Here are types known to be seen in the BVI: • Cauliflower jellyfish (Drymonema dalmatinum) • Moon jellies (Aurelia aurita) – One of the most common jellyfish in the BVI. • Portuguese-man-of-war (Physalia physalis) – Distinguishable by their “sails” above water. • Sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) • Sea wasp also know as a box jellyfish (Carybdea alata) – Often seen at night as they are attracted to light. • Thimble Jellyfish (Linuche unguiculata) – Usually seen in very large “smacks” (smacks are “schools” of jellyfish). •

Upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea ssp.) – Often found in shallow lagoons. If treading through the water where these jellyfish occur,

POTENTIAL DANGERS Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Main: Mantis Shrimp. Photo by J. Scheiner; Right-Top: Long-spined Sea Urchin. Photo by J. Scheiner; Middle: Scorpionfish. Photo by A. Jenik; Bottom: Caribbean Reef Octopus, Photo by O. Scheiner

stinging cells can become detached from the jellyfish and continue to sting.

ALLERGIC REACTIONS MAY OCCUR Be sure an oral antihistamine is in your first aid kit and if possible, an injectable epinephrine pen. Soak the affected area for 30 minutes with vinegar, one-quarter strength ammonia or baking soda (Do not use vinegar if it is Portuguese-man-of-war as the vinegar will cause the stinging cells to fire). Lime juice is an alternative. Rinsing with fresh water must be forceful enough (as in a shower) to physically force the stinging cells off. Gentle rinsing could cause the cells to fire. After soaking and rinsing, lather the area up with soap or shaving gel and shave the affected area. Reapply vinegar or substitute for 15 minutes then apply hydrocortisone lotion twice a day. If the victim is showing a severe reaction, seek medical attention immediately. Mantis shrimp (Order Stomatapoda) They are neither a shrimp nor a mantid but are given the name due to their resemblance to a praying mantis. Divers have called them “thumb splitters” due to their ability to inflict wounds like a gunshot. 42

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

(They are also capable of breaking the glass in an aquarium!). As long as you don’t stick your fingers in dark crevasses, you won’t experience the serious injury they can inflict. • Apply pressure to slow the bleeding and seek medical attention immediately.

Octopus (Order Octopoda) Octopuses are not always easy to see and are quite shy but they do have a beak similar to a parrot and can bite. • Clean area with soap and water. Cover with a topical antibiotic.

Scorpionfish (Scorpaena spp.) Spines of the scorpionfish transport venom into the puncture wounds. This can be extremely painful and will cause redness, swelling and blistering. • Soak the wound in water hot enough not to scald the skin (110-113° F / 43.3-45° C). This may not help with the pain but it will help to inactivate the venom. A topical antiseptic may be applied with daily dressing changes, however, it will take weeks to months to heal therefore, seek medical attention.

Sea urchin (Class Echinoidea) Sea urchin spines can cause painful puncture wounds that may cause muscle spasms, breathing difficulties, weakness and possibly other allergic reactions.

• Do not try to pull out the spines. Soak the wound in water hot enough not to scald the skin. This will help with pain relief (110-113° F / 43.3-45° C). Purple or black markings are not necessarily spine fragments but dye leached from the urchin. If there are black markings after 48-72 hours, then spine fragments are most likely still in the skin. Usually the spine naturally expels itself, however, if there are signs of infection (fever, swollen lymph glands, etc.), seek medical attention.

Seaweed Although this seems perfectly harmless, some people do tend to react to “seaweed”. “Seaweed” is actually seagrass, algae or a mixture of the two, it’s just a more commonly used term. • Scrub the area with soap and water and follow with a rinse of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and apply hydrocortisone lotion twice a day.

Shark According to a report produced by the Census of Life programme, 70% of the world's oceans are shark-free – thus the reason for being listed as endangered. However, they are out there and they are occasionally seen in the BVI, especially during the summer when they are mating. Females also often come into various bays and harbours to give birth to their pups.

Fire worms are often found in seagrass beds as well as on corals. Photo by S. Gore

• Two types of injuries are possible, severe bleeding or severe internal injuries due to impact. Seek medical attention immediately.

Shells A number of shells or their fragments have naturally sharp edges that can easily cut your foot if you step on, or brush up against them while snorkeling. Just remember to wear protective shoes if you are walking in shallow areas. • Clean the area with soap and water. Cover with a topical antibiotic.

Squid Squid are quite harmless but if one jumps out of the water while you are racing across the mooring field, it can hit you pretty hard. It will also eject ink all over you and the boat. • Although this is rare, it can knock the wind out of you. Relax and take deep breaths.

Stingray The sad and unfortunate death of animal activist Steve Irwin has raised the awareness that stingray envenomation can be fatal. However, most wounds are on the feet or legs as unsuspecting swimmers tread upon the rays hidden in the sand. • Rinse the wound with clean water and soak in water hot enough not to scald the skin (110-113° F / 43.3-45° C) for up to 90 minutes. Scrub the wound with soap and water but do not try to close up the wound as harmful bacteria can become trapped under the skin. Seek medical attention.

Fun Facts • Nematocysts are venomous cells unique to cnidarians (corals, anemones, and jellyfish). They contain a bulb shaped capsule that contains a

coiled hollow thread-like structure attached to it. The outside of the cell has a hair-like trigger (as seen while looking at a fire coral up close!). When the trigger is activated, the threadlike structure uncoils and penetrates the target organism, and the hollow thread is injected into it. The toxic content of the nematocysts paralyzes its prey and eats it. This is what is responsible for the stings that are delivered by fire corals and jellyfish.

because the toxin is heat-resistant, the fish cannot be detoxified by cooking. It is locally known that fish caught south of the islands are more likely to carry the ciguatoxin. Local fishermen know of locations prone to ciguatera and do not acquire fish in those regions. As a result it is in the best interest of individuals that are unaware of the fishing practices in the BVI to acquire all fish they consume from reputable businesses, and/or commercial fishermen.

• Despite all the dangerous marine organisms known to physically harm humans, hundreds of pharmaceutical products are currently in clinical trials to prevent or aid in anything from pain relief, inflammation to Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information, visit: •

Fish Poisoning Ciguatera poisoning is a foodborne illness caused by eating marine species whose flesh is contaminated with a toxin called ciguatoxin. Ciguatoxin accumulates in lower-level organisms, resulting in higher concentrations of ciguatoxin at higher levels (bigger fish) of the food chain. When ingested by humans, initial gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, cramping and vomiting. This is often followed by neurological symptoms such as headache, flushing, muscular aching, weakness, tingling and numbing sensation of the lips, tongue and mouth. Symptoms usually begin 15-30 minutes after eating the contaminated fish and can last from days to months. Seek medical attention immediately if you think ciguatera poisoning has occurred. There is no way to tell if a fish has the toxin and

Sea nettle. Photo by J. Scheiner

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide




Opposite: Anegada Waters. Photo by A. Jenik. Left: Coastline & infrastructure damaged from flooding. Photo by CFD staff. Right: Be prepared in the case of a hurricane and seek shelter. Photo by CFD staff after Hurricane Bertha, 1996.

The following information was taken from the Department of Disaster Management’s Community Preparedness Handbook: Before the onset of a Tropical Storm or Hurricane it is very important for fishermen and boat owners to secure their boats and equipment. The following precautions should be followed: • Boat moorings, anchors, chains, cables and ropes should be kept in good condition and rechecked well in advance. • Monitor and listen to the radio for regular weather reports, warnings and Marine Notices. • Remove fish pots and gear out of the water at the first warning. • Remove boats from the water if you can, or take them to one of the approved marine shelters. • If possible, move boats on trailers close to your house. Fill boat with water to weight it down. Lash the boat securely to the trailer and use tie-downs to secure the entire unit to the ground. Strip off and remove all loose or movable accessories, let the air out of your trailer tires, and tighten tie-downs. • Make sure that your boat or its moorings, anchors, etc. do not block or otherwise obstruct the navigable channel or other access into the mooring or anchorage. Leave room for late arriving boats. • Do not tie-up parallel to the bank or shoreline

(receding tides may leave your boat stranded or cause it to capsize). • If possible, boats should be moored in a group (rafted). Bow lines must be secured, individually tied to trees, piling, or other strong points on land; allowing sufficient slack for rising tides. The stern too should be similarly secured above ground or with an anchor or other strong point on the sea bed. Boats assembled in groups must also be secured to adjacent boats with breast-lines and spring lines forward and aft. Fenders or cushions of car tires should be placed between the boats to absorb movement, impact, and friction. • Mooring lines and cables should be of sufficient strength and long enough to absorb any surge or excessive high tides. They must be protected against chafing. • Moor and secure your boat in good time before the advent of the Tropical Storm or Hurricane; then, leave it and do not return to it until the storm has passed and the winds and seas have subsided. • Relatively large vessels may not fit into the listed marine shelters. Their operators should seek other places to safely secure their vessels which are comparable with the respective size and type of vessel, or put vessel to sea in due time to travel away from the storm or Hurricane to avoid it altogether.

For further information, please contact the BVI Maritime Administration at (284) 468-9180 Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Divers using a mooring. Photo by J. Scheiner. Opposite: Whether snorkeling or diving , leave only bubbles. Photo by A Jenik.


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

you are not familiar with the BVI dive sites it is 1 Ifhighly recommended that you dive with one of the BVI-based dive companies. dive alone. Always dive with a buddy or 2 asNever a group. Always have a dive flag clearly visible on the vessel 3 you are diving from.


No matter how experienced a diver you are there are several issues that should be taken into consideration before entering the water. For professional advice, equipment rental and dive instruction contact any of the dive operators or visit the BVI Scuba organization website at: Recompression Chamber Locations • St Thomas USVI – 1 340 776 8311 • Netherlands Antilles Island of Saba - Marine Park Hyperbaric Facility 1 800 883 7222 or 1 713 789 1396.

If you see someone in trouble - tell a Lifeguard, call the Police or call VISAR immediately. EMERGENCY NUMBERS 999 911 767

For Diving accidents – call Ch16 for the nearest Commercial Dive Boat/US Coast Guard. Be sure to state your location & nature of accident.

A responsible person should be on-board the vessel at all times. A maximum time limit should be discussed with them so they know when to expect you back and make sure you are either back at the boat or on the surface by that time. Agree what action should be taken if divers are not visible by this time. (i.e. call VISAR)

Aid Kit and Oxygen (if possible) should be on 5 1stboard or readily available. within your own limits and training. (60ft 6 Dive for Novice Divers, do not dive past 130ft). currents with a drop line and sea 7 Check conditions in general before entering the water. Do not dive if conditions are not favorable. This is especially important on the Wreck of the Rhone as this dive can have very strong currents. not dive in areas where there is a lot of boat 8 Do and dinghy traffic, for example close to dinghy docks. close to the vessel if you are unsure of the 9 Stay dive site. Always have your BCD inflated when at the 10 surface - beginning and end of dive. Monitor air regularly and always make sure you 11 are at the surface with at least 500psi/50bar left in tank.

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Cappoon's Bay in front of Bomba Shack is a popular surfing area. Photo by A. Jenik.



First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

BVI BEACH SAFETY FLAGS Red & Yellow Flags - mark areas of water that are patrolled by Lifeguards. These are the safest places to swim.

Black & White Chequered Flags - mean an area of water that has been marked out for use by craft, ie. wind surfing and dinghies. Do not swim in this area. Red Flags - indicate danger. Do not swim in the area. At the Baths, Devils Bay & Spring Bay the Red Flag indicates Yachts are prohibited from the mooring field. Yellow Flags - inform swimmers to take caution; weak swimmersare discouraged from entering the water. At the Baths, Devils Bay & Spring Bay the Yellow Flag indicates Yachts should take caution when using the mooring field. Purple Flags - indicate a marine life warning, for example Jelly Fish. This flag may be flown with the Yellow or Red Flags.

For more information

Rip Currents Rips are strong currents running out to sea that can easily take swimmers from shallow water out beyond their depth. Rip currents are particularly powerful in large surf conditions but they can also be found around man-made structures like marinas, piers and dinghy docks. It is easy to identify a rip current but here are some common signs to look for: • Discoloured, brown water (caused by sand being stirred up from the sea bed). • Foam on the water’s surface. • A break in the surf line where the waves are not as big. • Debris floating out to sea. • A rippled patch of sea, when the water around is generally calm.

Escape a Rip The most important thing is to remain calm and try not to panic. Keep hold of your body board, surfboard, inflatable and don’t fight the rip current. Signal to someone on the beach that you need help by raising your hand and shouting for help. Try and swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the rip current, then swim towards the shore. Never try and swim directly towards the shore against the rip. If you can stand up, wade instead of swimming. Remember If you see someone in trouble - tell a Lifeguard, call the Police or call VISAR immediately. Tel: 999/911/767

WATCH OUT FOR THE WAVES Waves are formed by the wind blowing across the surface of the sea. The longer the wind blows, the bigger the waves will be. How steeply the beach shelves will also affect the size and type of wave. Lifeguards The BVI beach safety programme began in 2006 and is divided into two parts, the lifeguard programme and the beach safety education programme. Both facets are a huge step for life saving in the Territory. Lifeguards are stationed at particularly dangerous beaches to help prevent accidents and act accordingly in the event of an emergency. Amongst the first beaches to have Lifeguards are Cane Garden Bay and Josiah’s Bay on the north shore of Tortola. The beach safety education programme is an ongoing programme directed at visitors to the Territory and the local population alike. A flag warning system with signs has already been established at a few locations with more to come in the near future. Ocean safety presentations are conducted at all schools and are available for local organizations on request. Surf Life Saving BVI Ltd. is a local non-profit organization that is a full member of the International Life Saving Federation. Under this organization, the Josiah’s Bay Surf Life Saving Club was started in September 2007 as part of the education programme in order to build local capacity in aquatic life saving skills.

TYPES OF WAVES Spilling waves appear when the top of the wave tumbles down the front of the wave. These types of wave are generally the safest for swimming in. Surging waves never actually break. Look out for this type of wave, as they can easily knock people off their feet and drag them back out to sea – especially when standing on rocks, the shoreline or harbour walls. Dumping waves break with great force and in shallow water. These dangerous waves usually occur on reefs and on sand banks or beaches that are steep. Avoid going into the sea when you see dumping waves. For more info, visit • •

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


DDM AUTHORIZED MARINE SHELTERS Paraquita Bay, Tortola Sea Cow’s Bay, Tortola Soper’s Hole, West End Tortola Nanny Cay, Tortola (privately owned) Hodges Creek, Tortola Inner Harbour, Tortola Trellis Bay, Beef Island Hamms (Hans) Creek, Beef Island The Bight, Norman Island South Sound, Salt Island Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke Marine Protected Areas under the BVI National Park’s Trust may not be used for the purpose of marine sheltering except in extreme circumstances. For further information, please contact the National Park’s Trust at 494-3904 or the Conservation & Fisheries Department (494-3429).


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Above: Yachts use mangroves as shelter at Paraquita Bay. Photo by George & Luana Marler. Below: Hodge's Creek marina is one of many of the approved marine shelters in the BVI. Photo by S. Gore


Yachts at Paraquita Bay Marine Shelter. Photo by George & Luana Marler

NANNY CAY Depth at Entrance: Depth of Bay: Mooring Type: Vessels Accommodated:

10 Feet 10 Feet Anchoring Up to 30 Feet LOA

The entrance is about 10 feet deep and the marina allows vessels up to 90 feet in length. The area of the bay that is reserved for use as a marine shelter is the inner portion next to the road and the mangroves. This inner area has depths of about 10 feet but cannot accommodate large vessels. SEA COWS BAY Depth at Entrance: Depth of Bay around Mangrove Island: Area Adjacent to Road: feet deep Mooring Type: Vessels Accommodated:

17 Feet 5-7 Feet 75 yards long, 4-5 Anchoring 40 – 100 Feet LOA

This marine shelter can accommodate yachts, ferries, barges and power boats ranging from 15 – 100 feet in length with a minimum draft of two feet and a maximum draft of 7 feet. TRELLIS BAY, BEEF ISLAND Depth at Entrance: Depth of Bay: Mooring Type: Vessels Accommodated: HODGES CREEK Depth at Entrance: Depth of Bay: Mooring Type: Vessels Accommodated:

12 Feet 8 - 10 Feet Moorings 40 – 100 Feet LOA

10 - 12 Feet 12 - 18 Feet Moorings Up to 40 Feet LOA

GREAT HARBOUR, JOST VAN DYKE Depth at Entrance: 50 Feet Depth of Bay: 30 Feet Depth of Inner Bay: 16 Feet Mooring Type: Anchoring and moorings Vessel Accommodated: 40 -45 Feet LOA

HAMMS CREEK, BEEF ISLAND Depth at Entrance: Depth of Bay: Mooring Type: Vessels Accommodated: 10 small boats)

8 Feet 3 Feet Anchoring (limited, with caution) 10 – 25 Feet LOA (maximum of

PLEASE NOTE: This is a FISHERIES PROTECTED AREA – SMALL VESSELS ONLY. THE BIGHT, NORMAN ISLAND Depth at Entrance: Depth of Bay: Mooring Type: Vessels Accommodated: SOPERS HOLE, TORTOLA Depth at Entrance: Depth of Inner Bay: small vessels only) Mooring Type:

50 Feet 15 - 50 Feet Anchoring, moorings 30 – 100 Feet LOA

70-80 Feet (larger vessels) 3 - 4 Feet (close to the bridge, Anchoring, moorings

GORDA SOUND, VIRGIN GORDA Depth at Entrance: Marked Channel; 12 – 18 Feet Unmarked Channel; 4 – 5 Feet Depth of Bay: 30 -65 Feet (Gun Creek: 5 -16 Feet) Mooring Type: Anchoring PARAQUITA BAY LAGOON Depth at Entrance: 6 Feet Depth of Bay: 6 Feet Mooring Type: Moorings Vessel Accommodated: 47 Feet LOA Slips Reserved for Local Boats: 6 for fishing boats in Inner Lagoon, 3 for HLSCC, 2 for Ports Authority Management of the Lagoon is currently being handled by the BVI Marine Association. Please contact them for usage requirements (494-2751). List was taken from the 2007 VI Shipping Registry Report - Official Marine Shelter Listings.

Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



Spotted eagle ray, photo by A. Jenik


First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

Adam, PJ, G. Garcia. 2003. New information on the natural history, distribution, and skull size of the extinct (?) West indian monk seal, Monachus tropicalis. Marine Mammal Science, 19(2):297-317 Allen, J. A. 1880. History of North American pinnipeds. United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, Miscellaneous Publications 12: 1-785. Blasco F, Saenger P, Janodet E. 1996. Mangroves as indicators of coastal change. Catena 27:167-178. Debrota, 0. 2000. A review of records of the extinct West Indian monk seal, Monachus tropicalis (Carnivora: Phocidae), for the Netherlands Antilles. Marine Mammal Science 1 6:s 34-8 37. Erdman, D. S. J. Harms, and M. Marcial Flores. 1973. Cetacean records from the northeastern Caribbean region. Cetology 17:1-14. Fish University. Reviving and releasing billfish. www. Friedlander, A.The recreational fishery for blue marlin, Makaira nigricans (Pisces: Istiophoridae), in the US Virgin Islands. Hemminga, M. and Duarte, C. 2000. Seagrass Ecology. Cambridge University Press. 298pp. Good Mate Recreational Boating and Marina Manual. Produced by the Ocean Conservancy, 2003. Gore, S. 2007. Beaches, not just sand. BVI Yacht Guide, Sept. 2007. Gore, S. 2007. BVI Fishery Regulations. BVI Yacht Guide, July 2007. Gore, S. 2005. 'Warm Water Threatens Coral Reefs', Marine Melee column, BVI Beacon

forests in Puerto Rico, the U.S.Virgin Islands and Florida, U.S.A.Tabasco: INIREB. P.319-342. Lidtz B, Shinn EA. 1991. Paleoshorelines, reefs, and a rising sea: South Florida, USA. Journal of Coastal Resources 7:203-229. Lugo AE, Snedaker SC. 1974.The ecology of mangroves. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 5:39-64. Lutz, P., Musick, J. eds. The Biology of Sea Turtles. CRC Press, 1997. 432p. Matilla, DK, Clapham, PJ, 1989. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and other cetaceans on the Virgin bank and in the northern leeward islands, 1985 and 1986. Can. J. Zool. 67(9): 2201-11. McGowan, A., Broderick, A., Gore,S., Hilton, G., Woodfield, N., Godley, B. 2006. Breeding Seabirds in the British Virgin Islands. Endangered Species Research.Vol. 2:15-20 Mignucci-Giannoan. AA, . 1989. Zoogeography of marine mammals in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Master’s thesis,The University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI.448pp. Mignucci-Giannoni, AA, 1998. Zoogeography of Cetaceans off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Caribbean Journal of Science,Vol. 34, No.3-4, 173-190.

Mignucci-Giannoni, AA,Toyos-González, GM, Pérez-Padilla, J, Rodríguez-López, MA, Overing, J. 1999. Mass stranding of pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) in the British Virgen Islands. J.Mar.Biol.Ass.UK, 80;759-760. Overing, J. Survey of Marine Mammals in the British Virgin Islands December 1993-to July 1994. Technicla Report No. 25. 15p.

Hastings, M. Survey of Hawksbill / Green Turtle Nesting Sites in 1990 & 1991 in the British Virgin Islands.Technical Report No. 13. 21p.

Overing, J. Survey of Marine Mammals in the British Virgin Islands December 1991-to April 1992. Technicla Report No. 14. 12p.

Jarecki L. 2004. Salt Ponds of the British Virgin Islands: Investigation in an unexplored ecosystem. In PhD Thesis University of Kent at Canterbury, Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology.

Overing, J. “Fish Eat Too”. BVI Welcome Magazine. Dec/ Jan 1997.

Kathiresan K, Bingham BL. 2001. Biology of mangroves and mangrove ecosystems. Adv Mar Biol 40:81-227. Leatherwood, S.,, D. K. Caldwell, and H. E. Winn. 1976. Whales, dolphins and porpoises of the western North Atlantic: A guide to their identification.Tech. Rep., Natl. Mar. Fish. Serv. CIRC-396, 176 pp. Lewis RR. 1988. Management and restoration of mangroves

Mekell Delpleche, Age 12. Leonora Delville Primary School

Mignucci-Giannoni AA, Odell DK. 2001.Tropical and subtropical Western Atlantic records of hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) dispel the myth of extant Caribbean monk seals (Monachus tropicalis). Bulletin of Marine Science 68(1):47-58.

Gore, S. Manatee Rescue. Final Report to the Government of the BVI. Unpublished report. 7pages.

Katona, SK, Beard, JA, 1990. Population size, migrations and feeding aggregations of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Rep. int. Whal.Commn. (special issue) 12:295-305.

Ashemba Frett, Age 13. Leonora Delville Primary School.

Reeves, RR, Swartz SL, Witmore, SE, Clapham, PJ, 2001. Historical occurrence and distribution of humpback whales in the eastern and southern Caribbean Sea based on historical data from American whaling logbooks. J.Cetacean Res. Manage. 3(2):117-129 Report of the 2006 ICCAT Billfish Stock Assessment. Madrid, May 15-19, 2006. Sail Caribbean. List of environmentally safe products for summer programmes.

Asha Frett Age, 12. Leonora Delville Primary School

Methods. Elsevier Science. 473pp. Spalding, M, Ravilious, C. and Green, E. 2001. World Atlas of Coral Reefs. University of California Press. 424pp. WINGE, S. 1992. West Indian monk seal. Pages 35-40 in S. R. Humphrey, ed. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume I. Mammals. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, FL. Winn, HE, Edel, RK,Taruski, AG, 1975. Population estimate of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the West Indies by visual and acoustic techniques. Journal Fish.Res.Bd Can. 32(4):499-506. Ward, N., Moscrop, A. and Carlson, C. 2000. Elements for the development of a marine mammal action plan for the Wider Caribbean: a review of marine mammal distribution. UNEP (WATER)/CAR WG.22/INF.7.

Sheppard, C. (2002) 'Coral Reefs', World Life Library Series. Short, F. and Coles, R. eds. 2001. Global Seagrass Research Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008



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Marine Awareness Guide First Edition 2008


Seahorses are often found in seagrass beds. Photo by J. Scheiner

IM PORTA NT P HONE NU MBE RS Medical emergency while at sea - VISAR

Marine Police BVI Tourist Board Conservation & Fisheries Department 56

Dialling 767 Dialling 999 or 911 Dialling 494 4357 (494-HELP) A distress call on VHF Channel 16 468-3701 Ext. 3604 / 3607 494 3864, 494-3429,

First Edition 2008 Marine Awareness Guide

National Parks Trust Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour Department of Disaster Management Marine Services Customs Solid Waste Department

494-3904 / 494-2069, 468-3701 Ext. 2147 / 2137 468-3701 Ext. 4457 / 4530, 494-2751 494-3475 494-6245

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