Citation
Tropic news. Vol.1. No. 3

Material Information

Title:
Tropic news. Vol.1. No. 3
Series Title:
Tropic news
Creator:
United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Publisher:
United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Caribbean ( LCSH )
Newspapers -- Caribbean ( LCSH )
Genre:
serial ( sobekcm )
Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States Virgin Islands
Caribbean

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University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
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Copyright United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text







TROPIC


NEWS


DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL RESOURCES
DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS DECEMBER


MANATEE

The West Indian manatee1
(Trichechus manatus manatus) is!
found in the Caribbean and;
northern South America. This
mammal is listed as endangered by
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. The Puerto Rico
population is the only population
of this subspecies under U.S.
jurisdiction. It occurs around
the southern and eastern end of
the island and around Vieques!
Island. Manatees are considered
to be absent from the Virgin
Islands at present, but fossils
have been found in indian midens
on St. Croix. Manatees are
typically found in large, slow
moving rivers, river mouths and
shallow coastal bays with an
abundance of sea grasses.
Manatees eat marine and
terrestrial plants (when they can
reach them) and require a source
of fresh water to maintain their
water balance. Manatees may live
as long as 50 to 60 years. While
in Florida most manatees die or
boat strikes, in the Caribbean
the primary threat is
entanglement in gill nets.

Recently (November 1988) a
manatee appeared in Charlotte
Amalie harbor where it was seen
a number of times over several
days. It disappeared and wasi
presumed to have left. Several
days later it was found dead,
washed up on the gravel beach
south of the West Indian Co.
dock.


Cause of death i- unknown as it
was in advance states of decom-
position. It is possible that
this manatee was sick when it
arrived here as it is considered
unusual for manatees to cross deep
water. This individual may have
been sick and become lost,
finally succumbing to its
sickness or even a lack of fresh
water, there being no rivers in
the V.I.. It's sad to think of
such an infrequent visitor (last
on was 1979) as this gentle, slow
moving animal ending its visit in
death on our shores. We only
hope it's death was due to
natural causes and not a boat
strike or other human cause.

IT'S WHALE SEASON AGAIN.

This month we should start seeing
humpback whales in our waters
again as they make their annual
migration south to calve in the
warmer Caribbean. Some may
already have calves with them but
calves are more commonly seen in
February and March as the whales
head north again to food rich
waters. They are more frequently
seen off the north shores of our
islands in pairs or groups up to
six or eight. The sight of a 40
to 50 foot whale breaching
(projecting its body up out of
the water) is spectacular. Any
sightings of these or any other
whales should be reported to the
Division.


JOL I


NO. 3


19 89







FADs and Artificial Reef

Eighteen new artificial
reefs were constructed to
investigate structure and
location effectiveness. Monthly
visual censuses were conducted on
the FADs. Semi-monthly trolling
censuses were conducted off St.
Thomas and St. Croix, testing the
effectiveness of those
structures.

The inshore and shelf edge
FADs proved effective, greatly
increasing the catch rates.
Surface FADs on St. Croix proved
especially ttrrtali ive on wal-oo and
dolphin.

WILDLIFE


Survey
Avifauna


of Cay


Nesting


Surveys of winter nesting
birds were conducted from
October, 1987 through April,
1988. Over 50 landings were made
on the 19 accessible nesting
islands. The inaccessible
islands were surveyed through
binoculars from a boat.

We counted 70 pairs of
Masked Boobies, 160 pairs of Red-
footed Boobies, and. over 600
pairs of Brown Boobies. There
are about 200 pairs of Red billed
Tropicbirds. Brown Pelican
colonies wee surveyed whenever
possible throughout the year, and
we estimate the breeding
population to be between 390 and
400 pairs.


The summer surveys, from May
through July, involved seven
species of terns and a cursory
examination of the Laughing
gulls. The Roseate tern, a
Federally "threatened" species,
is abundant in the Virgin
Islands, and we counted 1,528
pairs in six nesting locations.
The average clutch size of 1.63
eggs is slightly higher than
previous years. Bridled terns,
on the other hand, are in a sharp
local decline. We found only 100
pairs this year, compared with
nearly 200 last year. Royal
terns were significantly more
abundant this year than last, and
we fonnd 75 nests comparea with
53 in 1987). Sooty terns are our
most abundant species, and two
biologists estimated the flock to
contain 10,000 to 12,000 adults.
Noddy terns were counted on cliff
edges, in low trees and under
vegetation. Our best estimate is
350 pairs.

We banded 922 repre-
sentatives of 9 species ranging
from 326 Brown Boobies to 1
Bridled tern.


Masked Booby
Translocation


Egg


Twenty-eight Masked Boobies
Eggs were transferred from Sula
and Cockroach Cays to Frenchcap.
Each egg was placed under a Brown
Booby. We hope, by continuing
this project, to establish a new
breeding colony of Masked Boobies
on Frenchcap where conditions are
much more favorable for Masked
Boobies tha either Sula or
Cockroach.

Nest mortality occurred at
all stages of incubation and
development, but at least four
birds survived into young
adulthood. The first pair of
Masked Boobies appeared on
Frenchcap in 1987. We think
these may be from our earlier
translocation efforts. They were
unsuccessful in 1987, but
apparently have returned this
year and are presently incubating
eggs on Frenchcao.




Full Text

PAGE 1

-/~ TROPIC ~ NEWS \.. " "'~ \\ DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION OF F1SH AND WILDLIFE UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS I NO.3 ./OL DECEMBER 19 &~ !-:1ANATEE CR'.1S/:, or a/:"nth j,~ ljnknnwn ~~ ; t wC:!.s'.in advatlce s tag~s of d~COfliposi'~ion. It is possible that this manatee was sic}~ when it arrived here as it is considered 'unusal for manatees to cross deep water. This individual may have been sick and become lost, finally succumbing to its sickness or even a lack of fresh water, there being no rivers in the V.I.. It's sad to think of such an infrequent visitor (last ore-was 1979) as this gentle, slow moving animal ending its visit in death on our shores. vve only hope it's death was due to natural causes and not a boat strike or other human cause. IT'S WHALE SEASON AGAIN. i The \vest Indian manat~~1 (Trichechus manatus manatus) is! found in the Caribbean and; northern South America. ThiS' , mammal is listed as endangered by the u.S. Fish and ,Wildlife! Service. The Puerto Rico population is the only population of this subspecies under u.s. jurisdiction. It occurs around the southern and eastern end of' the island and around Vieques Island. Manatees are considered to be absen-t from the Virgin Islands at present, but fossils have been found in indian midens on st. Croix. Manatees are typically found in large, slow moving rivers, river mouths and shallow coastal bays with an abundance of sea grasses. Manatees eat marine and terrestrial plants (when they can ~each them) qnd require a source of fresh water to maintain their water balance. Manatees may livej as long as 50 to 60 years. While in Flori~a most manatees die o~ boat strikes, in the Caribbean the primary threat is entanglement in gill nets. This month we should start seeing humpback whales in our waters again as they make their annual migration south to calve in the warmer Caribbean. Some may already have calves with them but calves are more commonly seen in February and I~arch as the whales head north again to food rich \•aters. They are more frequently seen off the north shores of our islands in pairs or groups up to six or eight. The sight of a 40 to 50 foot whale breaching (projecting its body up out of the water) is spectacular. Any sightings of these or any other whales should be reported to the Division. Recently (November 1988) a l manatee appeared in Charlotte, Amalie harbor whe~e it was seen , ! a number of times over several days. It disappeared and was! presumed to have left. Several I ' days later it was found dead, washed up on the gravel beach! south of the \1est Indian Co., dock. J

PAGE 2

FADs a:ad Artificial Reef Eighteen new artificj.al reefs were constructed to investigate structure and location effectiveness. Monthly visual censuses. were conducted on the FADs. Semi-monthly trollillg censuSes were conducted off st. Thomas and st. Croix, testing the effectiveness of those struc.tures. The inshore and shelf edge FADs proved effective, greatly increasing the catch rates. Surface FADs on st. Croix Droved e3i?cciall.y ~!rrH(~1 liT!? on ~ral{~":' and dolphin. WILDLIFE Survey Avifauna of Nesting The sumrae£ surveys r from May through July, involved se'ven species of terns and a cursory examination of the Laughing gulls. The Roseate tern, a Federally !'threatened" species, is abundant in the Virgin Islands, and we counted 1 ,528 pairs in si~ nesting locations. The average clutch size of 1.63 eggs is slightly higher tl~an pre.vious years. Bridled terns, on the other hand, are in a sharp ~ocal decline. ~ie found only 100 pairs this year, compared with nearly 200 last year. Royal terl~s were significantly more ab~ndant this year than last, and we fmlnn 7s::; n~sts (camparA T,.1;.th ::>3 in 1 ~I:)'/) . Sooty terns are our most abundant species, and two biologists estimated the flock to contain 10,000 to 12,000 adults. Noddy terns were counted on cliff edges, in loY1 trees and under vegetation. Our best estimate is 350 pairs. "'y \...a Surveys of winter nesting birds were conducted from October, 1987 through April, 1988. Over 50 landings were made on the 19 accessible nesting islands. The inaccessible islands vlere surveyed through binoculars from a boat. We banded 922 sentatives of 9 species from 326 Brov7n Boobies Bridled tern. repreranging to 1 Masked Booby Translocation Egg We counted 70 pairs of Masked Boobies, 160 pairs of Redfooted Boobies, and over 500 pairs of Brown Boobies. There are about 200 pairs of Red billed Tropicbirds. Brown Pelican colonies wee surveyed whenever possible throughout the year, and we estimate the breeding population to be between 3QO and 400 pairs. Twenty-eight Masked Boobies Eggs were transferred from Sula and Cockroach Cays to Frenchcap. Each egg was placed under a Brown Booby. l'le hope, by continuing this project, to establish a ne\q breeding colony of Masked Boobies on Frenchcap where conditions are much more favorable for Masked Boobies tha either Sula or Cockroach. !~est mortality occurred at all stages of incubation and development, but at least four birds survived into young adulthood. The first pair of Masked Boobies appeared on Frenchcap in 1987. v1e think these may be from our earlier translocation efforts. They were unsuccessful in 1987, but apparently have returned this year and are pre-sently incubating eggs on Frenchcao.