Coral Reef Education & Protection

This program aims to inform park visitors, charter boat companies, recreational boaters, snorkelers, divers and all other lovers and explorers of the sea to be mindful of the fragile state of our marine ecology. All living coral should be treated as sacred, and we should do all we can to protect and preserve the living corals in and around Virgin Islands Natioanal Park. The Friends helps to communicate best practices established by the park for underwater exploration, including but not limited to wearing sun protective clothing, instead of harmful chemical-based sunscreens known to damage reefs, avoiding standing on or otherwise touching any coral or creature underwater, and properly using moorings and access channels for beach entry/snorkeling. 

Coral reefs within Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument have been monitored for sucessive years at select sites for deterioration due to bleaching, diseases, sedimentation, overfishing, and damage from boats. Additionally, since the two Category Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed over the islands in September 2017 coral reefs have been observed and assessed by the park.

There are some positive signs, including limited recovery of corals on some of the reefs studied by the National Park Service Inventory & Monitoring biologists, active growth of some elkhorn colonies, and high “recruitment” of new corals in some sites.

April 7, 2018 Presentation by VINP Biologist Jeff Miller on the conditions of our reefs post-hurricane.

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