Reefs good, fish gone

EarleSylvia Earle, an oceanographer and "explorer in residence" at the National Geographic Society, dove off Lameshur Bay recently and surfaced with a good news/bad news report. 

The reefs look OK, but, "Nobody’s home.  I didn’t even seen a barracuda," she said, according to a report in the St. John Source

Earle was on island on  behalf of the Ocean Conservancy’s publication of "The State of the Coral Reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands."  When she dove off St. John nearly 35 years ago, Earle said she saw seven species of grouper.  "Today, I saw none of those big guys."  The staghorn and elkhorn coral are also gone, but she said the brain coral is alright.  This time she saw three lobsters; in 1970 she would expect to see 20.

The problems are not only St. John’s,  she explained.  Around the world, 90 percent of the "big fish" have disappeared.  She urged protection for spawning areas and a reduction in the number of fish allowed to be caught.  Now that people are paying attention, she said, "Weve got a chance."

1 thought on “Reefs good, fish gone”

  1. My wife and I first visted St. John in 1972. There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of fish over the last few years. Also a dramtic increase in houses, septic systems, yachts etc. commercial fishing has also increased with population growth. It is probably all related. But what to do is the question. The pattern is not experienced only by the Islands. Fish decline in the atlantic off of N.H. is more dramatic. I wish I had the answers.

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