An Amazing Underwater Video

I don’t even know where to start with this one. First, this is by far my favorite underwater video I have seen yet taken on St. John. Second, I can’t think of a better way to start off your Sunday than by spending 10 minutes to watch this incredible video.

It was filmed and edited by Brian Naess. Brian teaches a coral reef ecology class at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Each Spring Break, they head to St. John to snorkel. You have to check this out…

(Definitely turn on your sound)

19 thoughts on “An Amazing Underwater Video”

      • This video was wonderful! After viewing this (and sharing with my family), I checked out some of the others that came up on youtube. Seeing the one which was a montage of college students, camping at Cinnamon Bay, studying on the beach, snorkeling, scuba diving, the Baths…it took me back to 1998-99 when I did a study abroad in St. John with Michigan State University! That was my very first time to St. John or the Caribbean. I am now sharing that love and knowledge with my own children – we will be heading to St. John for the sixth time in as many years this fall. It is priceless that these trips are offered to students in college! 🙂

  1. What location on St. John is this thriving reef? We will be there in 3 weeks and are so excited to get back to the USVI 😀 Great quality video by the way, we really enjoyed watching!

  2. Hope you reported that Lionfish sighting so that it could be removed.

    @Sarah, there are a lot of places to go snorkel around St. John for better reef life. From shore you’ll need to take longer trips. Examples: 1) Around Waterlemon Cay, 2) From Francis Beach swim out to the end of Mary Point (watch the current though, you don’t want to get shot to Tortola), 3) Channels off to the right of Blue Stone Beach (or swim from St. Pond around to Blue Stone. 4) Whistling Cay is good too but I wouldn’t try to swim it (kayak it) or sail. Most of the beaches have coral access you just got to be willing to swim out to the points.

  3. @Eric – Unfortunately, there really is no point to reporting lionfish anymore. I saw at least one every day I snorkeled. Four or five years ago, when they were just appearing, we did report our sightings, but the organizations that were working to take them out were already overloaded.

    That battle is lost, I’m afraid. The good news is that lionfish remains have been found in some deepwater snapper species in the British VI, and there are reports of lionfish remains in grouper in the Bahamas.

    If lionfish was served on the menu at all of St. Johns restaurants (instead of snapper/grouper, which are severely overfished), then we may make a dent in local lionfish populations.

    @Sarah – Eric is right. The further you swim from shore, the better the reefs are. Don’t be afraid to explore around the corner, if you are a capable swimmer. You will be rewarded!

    • @Brian – I’ll have to watch closer for the Lion fish now. Been in St. John every summer for the past 12 years and haven’t seen one, maybe it’s too warm in the summer water. Seems to be have been an increase in Nurse Sharks, for years I rarely saw one, the past 3 years I’ve seen 9 or 10 over a couple weeks.

    • Many local studies have shown that eating Lionfish from waters near St John or St Thomas is dangerous due to high levels of Ciguatera toxins.

  4. This is an absolutely amazing and beautiful video! We’ve been to St. John four times but not for six years, going back this summer for our 10th anniversary and couldn’t be more excited. Thank you so much for sharing this with us…it really is incredible! Do you mind sharing a few of your locations where you saw those amazing reefs? We’ve always had good luck seeing cool things at Waterlemon, Maho, etc. but again, it’s been a while. Never seen an octopus or nurse shark though!

  5. WOW< WOW< WOW!!!! Thanks for the memories. Imagined I could identify many of the locations. Sometimes I close my eyes and snorkel certain reefs in my mind! What a beautiful video, best quality Ive seen. When you Photograhed spotted drums, were you using extra light? Once saw an 18 inch spotted drum!!! (two years in a row in the same area) Got it on film too. Also saw an extraordinary scrawled filefish and blue trumpet fish n same area. Always my favorite place to snorkel, but I'm not telling!!! Thanks again-what a treat. Love my weekly St. John News! You are appreciated!

  6. @Brian – Nice video; glad you id’ed the fish at the end. St. John should sponsor lion fish spear fishing contests like they do in Belize. That gets a lot of them out of the water. And, the more that come out, the more likely the restaurants will start serving them instead of the other fish, which are overfished and really should not be served.

    @Kelly – This year, we saw a huge nurse shark off Maho right as it meets up with Little Maho. They prefer deeper water so you need to get further away from shore. Saw lots of octopus a few years back at Chocolate Hole.

  7. Great Video Brian. Well done. We are adding some links on our villa website showing some nice STJ activities. Might I post a link to your video? Bob

  8. @Bob – Sure, you can link to the video.

    @Ja – I attached a very small LED underwater light to the end of my GoPole. It doesn’t produce much light, but it does help to illuminate a small circle in darker areas, and I found that helped with filming.

    @Lee – If lionfish are indeed carrying ciguetara, that is a problem for trying to serve it in restaurants. I imagine there are rapid ciguatoxin tests out there, so perhaps enterprising restauranteurs can ensure that the fish they buy are safe to heat. That stigma would be hard to overcome, though.

    I guess we’ll have to rely on lionfish derbies and hope that snapper and grouper can evolve quickly enough to consider them predators. And that means that we need to make sure there are enough large snapper and grouper on the reef…

    For everyone: If you want to see a lionfish while snorkeling, you will normally need to dive down and look under large overhangs. Lionfish are generally stationary, as they rely on their prey getting used to their presence and forgetting that they are there. I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but please do not touch any lionfish – you’ll regret it!

  9. @Brian: Thanks for the great video, nicely done, even from the Chapel Hill gang! (from a proud NCSU grad, grateful for all the grand schools in NC) We enjoyed snorkeling at the national park at St John’s in 2009, enjoyed immensely, and took some photos with a department store underwater disposable camera. Our pics don’t compare well with the great video! And perhaps we should return to venture further from shore for the great views!

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