Steve Prosterman, who runs the diving program at the University of the Virgin Islands, escorted us out into the wide Caribbean Sea, where he showed us fabulous endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn Coral, and introduced us to the haunting calls of the Humpback Whale. Here's their description:
One of the highlights of the trip occurred today during our third snorkeling trip with Steve Prosterman from the University of the Virgin Islands. We anchored at a reef-friendly buoy, which is part of the buoy system started by Steve in an effort to preserve the remaining coral in the Virgin Islands from needless damage from boat anchors. The law of the Virgin Islands has since been altered to encourage a buoy system. The buoy system helps to preserve biodiversity because the buoys are permanently fixed to the ocean bottom, whereas boat anchors often drag across coral reefs, ripping up the coral as it they do. Steve showed us endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn Coral. We also had the opportunity to dive down about 3-4 meters, and then hear the beautiful songs and calls of wintering Humpback Whales. It was interesting to see the differences in biodiversity between this sight and the previous sights we had snorkeled, which were shallower, warmer, and didn’t have as many different types of fish, coral, crustaceans, molluscs, and other creatures. We topped the night off with a delicious homemade dinner of Falafel, Hummus and Pitas!
Tomorrow - our last day of Biodiversity Law class - we will meet with Jeff Weiss, one the Virgin Islands' best litigators, and a champion of endangered species.