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reef etiquette

Just a few reminders about our reef...
It is alive, it is fragile, and it is easily destroyed. With this in mind, here are a few requests.  When snorkeling, diving or just lounging in the water, please try not to stand on the reef and coral. Do not touch the reef because the oils in human skin are very destructive to the little critters that make up the reef and coral systems.  If you rent a boat, most areas will have a dock or mooring area, please use these designated areas instead of throwing an anchor, possibly on the reef. 
You'll see many friendly, but shy little sea creatures in the waters that surround St. John. Photo © Bubble Makers Inc.
You'll see many friendly, but shy little sea creatures in the waters that surround St. John. Photo © Bubble Makers Inc.

Barracuda
Photo © Jeff Bozanic, 6-Paq Scuba

Barracuda
These fish look more intimidating than they really are. Rule of thumb- leave them alone and they will leave you alone, although they have earned the nickname "Tiger of the Sea". This fish is built to hunt with it's sleek body and dagger-like teeth and heavy appetite. Divers usually see them hanging lazily around the reef and then savagely attack another fish. They can reach lengths of up to 5 feet.


A very colorful, yet very shy reef fish
Photo © Jeff Bozanic, 6-Paq Scuba

Basslet
A very colorful, yet very shy reef fish. This is a small, perch-like fish with a round outline to the top of its head and elongated pelvic fins. The color of this fish makes it unmistakable. The rear half of the fish is bright yellow, and the front half is a purple-pink. The eye is outlined in blue and the pelvic fins are lined purple. A black dot is present on the front of the dorsal fin.



photo coming soon!
Long-spined Black Urchin (diadema antillarum)
If you see one of these spiny creatures on the rocks or coral of the sea bed, steer clear.  It's needlelike spines can penetrate rubber fins, clothing and , of course, skin.  The tip of the spine often breaks off, causing several hours of stinging discomfort.  Squeeze a lime on the area to help with the pain.  The spine will eventually disintegrate.

Octopus
Photo © Curtis Mueller
Octopus
You can find these very shy creatues balled up in holes, or scurrying on the reef. They are quick- so be careful not to miss them. They perfrom a beautiful underwater dance from one location to their next.

photo coming soon! Parrotfish (sparisuma viride)
Perhaps the most vibrantly colorful inhabitant of St. John's coral reefs, the Parrotfish is easily identifiable by its fused teeth, which resemble a parrot's beak.  It uses this feature to turn dead coral into sand at the astonishing rate of about a ton per year.  It keeps edible algae for itself and gives St. John the rest.

photo coming soon! Queen Conch (strombus gigas)
This giant snail inhabits all the waters surrounding the U.S.Virgin Islands.  They have been grossly over-harvested in recent years, so it is important to check with the government before taking any out of their natural habitat.  They are delicious, however, in chowder, fritters or as an entree.

Most of us are familiar with them in the bath isle of our local market- please do not take any from the water.
Photo © Jeff Bozanic, 6-Paq Scuba

Sea Sponge
Most sea sponges attach themselves to coral, rocks or rock walls, shell beds and other hard or stable surfaces along the ocean floor. Nutrients and oxygen are absorbed and wastes and carbon monoxide are eventually filtered out. They can be brightly colored when in the water. Most of us are familiar with them in the bath isle of our local market- please do not take any from the water. Occasionally, you will find them washed up on shore.


If you're lucky , you'll happen upon one of these majestic sea creatures while swimming or boating.
Photo © Curtis Mueller
Sea Turtles
If you're lucky , you'll happen upon one of these majestic sea creatures while swimming or boating.  The major types here in the Virgin Islands are the Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green Turtles.  They are protected and, occasionally, beaches or portions of beaches will be marked "off limits" to protect the turtle nestlings incubating in the sand.  Please honor our efforts to restore these endangered animals to a healthy population.

You have to look in a lot of holes to find one of our spiny lobsters.
Photo © Curtis Mueller
Spiny Lobster
You have to look in a lot of holes to find one of our spiny lobsters. These critters are shy- but magnificent when you do see them. They are affectionately known as bugs among the local fishermen. Don't try to get one on your own- leave that to the professionals!

Don't let this big-eyed fish scare you!
Photo © Jeff Bozanic, 6-Paq Scuba

Squirrel Fish
Don't let this big-eyed fish scare you! The large-eyed squirrel fish is a nocturnal hunter that is not as brightly colored as other marine fish. The chances of you seeign this fish on an incredible night dive is good.


Snorkeling along the reef, you will often see a Trumpetfish hanging, head down, gently swaying among soft coral and sea fans. 
Photo © Gary Bracken
Trumpetfish (aulostomus maculatus)
Snorkeling along the reef, you will often see a Trumpetfish hanging, head down, gently swaying among soft coral and sea fans.  It can change color to fit its surroundings and preys on smaller unwary fish by sucking them into its long slim body.


where to stay on St. John, USVI where to play on St. John, USVI Virgin Islands National Park who to hire on St. John, USVI useful info about St. John, VI
overview
campsites
hotels / inns
resorts
villas (by owner)
villas (by agent)
art scene
boating
dining
fishing
health and fitness
island hopping
land activities
nightlife
shopping
scuba
water activities

overview
facilities
beaches
programs
marine life
nature trails
plant life
wild life
suggested reading

car rentals
caterers
cyber cafes
business services
real estate agents
financial services
tour operators
taxi tours
travel agents
weddings
events calendar
ferry schedule
getting here
history / culture
info request
island maps
sky watch
webcam
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