Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coral Reef Law 101

The second day of Biodiversity Law centered on a day-long visit to Botany Bay, one of the last large tracts of (mostly) undeveloped land on Saint Thomas. The students report:

First we went to the Botany Bay Estates, a large parcel of privately-owned land closed to the public. We walked around Little St. Thomas, a nature preserve, where we saw a variety of wildlife such as soldier crabs, pelicans, and corals. At Mermaid's Chair we snorkeled(many of us for the first time) and saw numerous species of fish and corals. Particularly exciting was a school of juvenile yellow jacks, which covered the bay floor beneath us and provided plenty of hunting opportunities for the pelicans above. We also found it interesting to see how different types of coral grew on other types, which showed how many species depend on each other. While there we met with Linda Keen, who gave us an idea of the difficulties of managing the proper balance between development and biodiversity conservation. Later in the day we collected samples of leaves from three different locations in order to look at biodiversity at different elevations on the island. We sorted the leaves, then compared and contrasted the species richness, evenness, and diversity at each elevation.

Tomorrow we will do a Cuban Tree Frog census and meet with the Trust for Public Lands on Saint John.


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