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Buck Island Reef National Monument

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Buck Island

Buck Island offers a pristine white sand beach; excellent snorkeling and a wonderful look at marine life around spectacular coral reefs and gardens. There are several species of coral and almost 90 species of fish in the park's waters. This 880-acre monument created by nature is a mile off the northeast coast of St. Croix. It is made up of 176 acres of land and 704 acres of underwater area. It is one of the most popular attractions on St. Croix.

The crystal clear water and beautiful underwater scenery at Buck Island is legendary. With a mask and snorkel you will be treated to some of the most fabulous underwater views in the Caribbean. This ecological site may take the whole day to explore. There are hiking trails on the island that are worth visiting and underwater trails to follow while snorkeling. Several species of turtles and birds nest in the area. Two thirds of the island is surrounded by an Elkhorn coral reef and coral gardens. The water is teaming with hundreds of colorful tropical fish. Without question Buck Island is a must see.

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Variability of blue carbon storage in seagrass habitats in the U.S. Virgin Islands

CHRISTIANSTED –

The National Park Service will be partnering with the University of the Virgin Islands to conduct seagrass surveys at Buck Island Reef National Monument on Thursday, August 2nd. Researchers will be snorkeling and diving in the seagrass beds to the west and south of West Beach. Please be aware of the researchers and maintain a safe distance from them while they are in the water. Dive flags will indicate their location. These surveys will be part of a larger effort to understand the capacity of seagrasses to sequester and retain carbon that might otherwise rise up and trap heat in the atmosphere. Increases in atmospheric temperature can compound existing environmental stresses and lead to, for example, stronger hurricanes.

In the context of the global carbon cycle, “blue carbon” habitats like seagrass meadows, are substantial carbon sinks and provide a key ecosystem service by sequestering and storing significant amounts of carbon, particularly belowground in plant roots and rhizomes. Recent work shows that within these habitats, sediment carbon concentrations vary spatially, with depth below the ground surface, and with time since establishment and that this variation can be explained by species- specific differences in vegetation and geomorphic context. These relationships are not well understood for seagrass species common to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Previous work on St. Thomas, USVI explored carbon storage in two native seagrass species (Thalassia testudinum and Syringodium filiforme), the invasive seagrass (Halophila stipulacea) and un-vegetated sand. Results suggest that H. stipulacea may be storing carbon in a comparable amount to native seagrass species.

Collecting additional sediment cores around Buck Island seeks to answer the question of carbon storage in seagrass habitats with time since establishment- another key variable that may play a role in predicting carbon storage in these habitats. Halophila stipulacea was fist documented in St. John in 2012, then in St. Thomas in 2013, and finally St. Croix in 2016. The invasion history of H. stipulacea across the USVI sets up a natural experimental design and allows for researchers to gain a better understanding of seagrass habitats as blue carbon ecosystems.

If you would like additional information about this study, please contact: Clayton Pollock, NPS Biologist Ph 340-773-1460 x 238; clayton_pollock@nps.gov

The National Park Service thanks all of our community members and friends for 52 years of support for Buck Island Reef NM and we look forward to an exciting year of events celebrating our unique resource.

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.
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Variability of blue carbon storage in seagrass habitats in the U.S. Virgin IslandsCHRISTIANSTED –The National Park Service will be partnering with the University of the Virgin Islands to conduct seagrass surveys at Buck Island Reef National Monument on Thursday, August 2nd. Researchers will be snorkeling and diving in the seagrass beds to the west and south of West Beach. Please be aware of the researchers and maintain a safe distance from them while they are in the water. Dive flags will indicate their location. These surveys will be part of a larger effort to understand the capacity of seagrasses to sequester and retain carbon that might otherwise rise up and trap heat in the atmosphere. Increases in atmospheric temperature can compound existing environmental stresses and lead to, for example, stronger hurricanes.In the context of the global carbon cycle, “blue carbon” habitats like seagrass meadows, are substantial carbon sinks and provide a key ecosystem service by sequestering and storing significant amounts of carbon, particularly belowground in plant roots and rhizomes. Recent work shows that within these habitats, sediment carbon concentrations vary spatially, with depth below the ground surface, and with time since establishment and that this variation can be explained by species- specific differences in vegetation and geomorphic context. These relationships are not well understood for seagrass species common to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Previous work on St. Thomas, USVI explored carbon storage in two native seagrass species (Thalassia testudinum and Syringodium filiforme), the invasive seagrass (Halophila stipulacea) and un-vegetated sand. Results suggest that H. stipulacea may be storing carbon in a comparable amount to native seagrass species.Collecting additional sediment cores around Buck Island seeks to answer the question of carbon storage in seagrass habitats with time since establishment- another key variable that may play a role in predicting carbon storage in these habitats. Halophila stipulacea was fist documented in St. John in 2012, then in St. Thomas in 2013, and finally St. Croix in 2016. The invasion history of H. stipulacea across the USVI sets up a natural experimental design and allows for researchers to gain a better understanding of seagrass habitats as blue carbon ecosystems.If you would like additional information about this study, please contact: Clayton Pollock, NPS Biologist Ph 340-773-1460 x 238; clayton_pollock@nps.govThe National Park Service thanks all of our community members and friends for 52 years of support for Buck Island Reef NM and we look forward to an exciting year of events celebrating our unique resource.About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

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Buck Island
Buck Island
Buck Island

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St. John off the Beaten Track is your guide to the beaches, trails and hidden attractions of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Find quiet beaches, the best snorkeling spots and abandoned sugar estates. Learn about the islands history, geology, culture, people, ecology, plants and animals. National Park trails include detailed maps, information on historic ruins, and description on natural environment along the trails. Off trail adventures are also explored including secluded shorelines, pristine seasonal streams in the mountains (also known on island as guts), fresh water pools, seasonal waterfalls and more.

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