Red Hook Salt Pond from Red Hook Plaza. Red Hook is a GMF CRP project (#1004C) located
on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
GMF Executive Director Dr. Quenton Dokken gives
opening remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for
the Red Hook Salt Pond on August 11, 2008.
Environmental Rangers, a youth conservation organization on St. Thomas, attended the event.
The students have been very involved in the Red Hook project from its inception.
After the ribbon-cutting, from left: Daphne Macfarlan (NOAA Restoration Center), Ryan Fikes (GMF),
Andrea King (Red Hook Project Manager) and Dr. Quenton Dokken (GMF)
Attendees line the newly-built boardwalk that lines much
of the salt pond. Along the trail there are several outlooks,
observation platforms and signs that educate people about
wildlife and the pond's importance.
The Environmental Rangers take a good long look at the finished product.
GMF's Project Coordinator Ryan Fikes stands next to a sign acknowledging the GMF's support.
After the ribbon-cutting Andrea King arranged for a wonderful beach brunch at St. John, USVI.
Individuals involved in restoration efforts from all three of the US Virgin Islands met at the
American Yacht Harbor to discuss ways to increase conservation and restoration efforts
in the islands. Participants represented non-profit conservation groups, University of the
Virgin Islands and local business owners.
Attendees of the USVI meetings. Shortly after arriving back to the mainland, they announced
that they were starting the Virgin Islands Conservation Alliance.
The marine lab at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). The facilities recently received
NSF EPSCOR funding to improve the current facilities.
The private dock behind the marine lab at UVI where the
boats are kept. How would you like to come out to
that every morning?
The Piñones National Forest near Loiza, Puerto Rico, is where one of the GMF’s newest projects
#3002C in the Piñones Lagoon is aiming to re-open the Piñones Channel.
The GMF site visit group views an aerial image of the Red Hook Salt Pond project site. From
left are Ryan Fikes (GMF), Craig Lilyestrom (Director of Marine Resources, Puerto Rico),
Doreen Pares Jordan (Forest Manager) and Daphne Macfarlan (NOAA).
The back shoreline in the Piñones Lagoon shows the amount of sediment accretion that is
taking place in the lagoon since the channels have been restricted.
Daphne walks the plank to get onto one of the boats for a tour
of the lagoon.
Ryan Fikes and Vivian Vera Rivera (PRDNER) ride in the other tour boat. Two local men donated
their time and fuel to show the Red Hook Salt Pond project site to GMF staff and others.
Enjoying the tour of the lagoon, the passengers are glad to be out of the thick mangroves,
which created quite a problem to drive through. Everyone ended up a little beaten.
Vivian, left, and Doreen, right, are ecstatic to receive a check from the Gulf of Mexico
Foundation to purchase a new boat for the Red Hook Salt Pond project. They will
no longer have to depend on local fishermen to lend their time and fuel.
On the opposite end of Puerto Rico is Rincon, location of the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve.
Within the reserve is another GMF CRP project, #2001C, which removes tires for Elkhorn Coral
restoration, which is coordinated by the Surfrider Foundation.
The marine reserve has beautiful blue waters and
contains the largest communities of Elkhorn Coral
(Acropora palmata) in the area.
Craig Lilyestrom (PRDNER) measures a coral head from which he had removed clothing.
Refugees often shed their wet clothes upon arrival in Puerto Rico. As a result, the clothes
often get tangled in the coral, blocking the sunlight and eventually killing the coral.
GMF Project Coordinator Ryan Fikes notes the size, location and depth of a debris removal site
-- in this case an old tire.
A Caribbean Spiny Lobster and many tropical fishes have made this artificial habitat their home.
Since this tire was not destroying coral heads it was temporarily left so as not to disturb the
GMF's Dr. Quenton Dokken helps to remove a tire from the
reserve with the help of a local fisherman. Leon Richter
(Surfrider) stands ready behind.
Craig, Daphne, and Ryan snorkel in the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve to get an up-close and
personal look at the area’s biodiversity.
In the distance, Ryan and Craig conduct Manta Tows through
the reserve. By attaching a piece of wood to rope and towing
it behind the boat, one is able to view large portions
of the reserve without expending a lot of energy. All you
have to do is hold on and “fly” through the water.
Quenton and Daphne conduct manta tows. Pushing down on the board moves the rider
towards the ocean floor and pulling up returns them to the surface for a breath.
The reserve’s shoreline and parts of the small town of Rincon.
The San Juan Bay Estuary Program (SJBEP) in USVI's capital city of San Juan has begun
a mangrove restoration project near Old San Juan.
GMF Executive Director Dr. Quenton Dokken, right, speaks with SJBEP Executive Director Javier
Laureano. The GMF values building relationships and expanding partnership opportunities.
Dr. Jorge Bauza gives GMF staff a tour of the new SJBEP
facilities, which contain offices, a water monitoring lab and
direct access to the bay.