Citation
Tropic news. Vol. 3. No. 10.

Material Information

Title:
Tropic news. Vol. 3. No. 10.
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

Subjects

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

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
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.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text




TROPIC. NEWS


DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES


DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE


Volume 3 Number 10


EXTINCTION
It can be said with certainty that all species will
become extinct at some time. Major extinction periods
have occurred in the past and will undoubtedly occur
again. However, these differ from the extinctions occur-
ring now, in that one species, Homo sapiens (Man), is
directly responsible for an extinction spasm possibly
unprecedented in the history of our planet, unprece-
dented because of the rate at which it is occurring.
Extinctions are not confined to tropical areas, they
are occurring throughout the world. In temperate New
Zealand, the impact of humans on the endemic bird
fauna has been catastrophic, with 40 50% of all bird
species having become extinct since human settlement
some 1200 years ago. New Zealand plant species have
come under considerable pressure since human settle-
ment, especially in the 100 150 years of European
settlement. Researchers describe 97 plant species or
varieties now under direct threat of extinction in the
wild and one researcher considers that some 17% of the
New Zealand flora is presently at risk of extinction.
Islands have been particularly prone to extinctions,
with invasive animals (especially mammals such as
mongoose, rats and donkeys) and habitat destruction
being the major agents. The vulnerability of islands has
been largely a consequence of the absence of mammals
until the arrival of humans, and rapid habitat destruc-
tion (especially forest clearance) within the short period
of human settlement.
To conserve species at risk from extinction, we need
to understand the processes that lead to species extinc-
tion. In some cases these are obvious and direct (e.g.
habitat loss) but in many cases they are more subtle and
include a mixture of factors that may be random or the
result of a sequence of events. Unfortunately, in most
cases we have little information on the factors that
forced a species into extinction. It is important to docu-
ment those species where there is information, to help
prevent the extinction of other species.

FISH TRAP MESH SIZE
Commercial fishermen are reminded that as of
September 14, 1991 all fish traps set in federal waters
must have a mesh size of not less than 2 inches unless a
regulatory amendment is passed which will change this
requirement to a mesh size of one and one-half inch hex
mesh. All traps will also be required to have two 8" x 8"
escape panels fastened with 1/8 inch untreated jute. The
regulatory amendment will most likely be approved in
time. Please call 775-6762 for additional information.


The American Kestrel ("Sparrow Hawk"), Falco
sparverius, is the commonest of Antillean birds of prey.
Typically seen in pairs, this little falcon (9 12" from tip of
beak to tip of tail) may be seen to hover as it searches for
food. Food consists mainly of insects and lizards which are
often hunted from a high perch. Nests are made in cavities
in trees or on cliff ledges from February to June.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife is starting a project to
study the use of artificial nest habitat by this species. Nest
boxes are available for interested persons who wish to
place a nest box on their property, monitor it and provide
us with the information. Please call if interested.

NEW EMPLOYEE
The Division of Fish and Wildlife recently hired
Craig Barshinger as a Fisheries Biologist II on St.
Thomas. Craig has lived and worked in the Virgin
Islands off and on since 1979. During that time, Craig
earned a Masters degree in marine biology from the
University of Aix-Marseille, France. Craig will be
collecting, computerizing and analyzing commercial and
recreational fisheries data from the USVI.
We welcome Craig on board.


MARLIN STUDIES

ST. CROIX PROJECTS

MARINE RESERVE INFO


JULY 1991.


~L~IP ~lsl--~L~Bla~ ~P~d~e~C-~--t~e~l~Q~ -rc~8~~
rc~


- -








LEATHERBACK NEWS
While the 1991 leatherback turtle nesting season has
not set any records for number of turtles (as we had
thought it might) it has set a new record for number of
nests in one season. As of the middle of July, 38 individ-
ual turtles (the record is 48) have laid over 260 nests
(the previous record was 248). This means that the
turtles this year are laying many more than the usual
average of 5.5 nests per turtle per season. At least one
turtle has nested at least ten times this season.
Also, as of the middle of July, when the turtles are
supposed to have stopped laying, they are still coming in
one or two a night. This is producing a longer than
normal nesting season which will carry the hatching
season well into September with a greater chance of
nest loss due to hurricane and tropical storm activity.
To date, over 80 nests have hatched Success rates
have been relatively good. Persons interested in visiting
Sandy Pt. in August to observe hatching activity should
contact the St. Croix Environmental Assoc. at 773-1989.

V.I. SEABIRD UPDATE
The Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to moni-
tor seabirds on the breeding grounds of the offshore cays
of St. Thomas and St. John. Sooty terns continue to be
the most abundant seabird in the territory and the large
colony on Saba appears to be stable. With the assistance
of twenty volunteers from Portland State University,
over 600 sooties were banded -- not a bad effort for two
hours of work.
Three mixed-species colonies of Sandwich and Royal
terns were found on offshore cays. The USVI breeding
population of Roseate terns was higher than last year's.
The Division has begun a study of the breeding and dis-
tribution of the Caribbean population of the Roseate
tern as part of a joint effort with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service for the recovery and conservation of this
threatened species.
ees were saved byprining on recycledpaper
Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper


GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES

Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
101 Estate Nazareth
St. Thomas, USVI 00802
(809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.)


For as yet unexplained reasons, the Bridled tern
populations in the USVI have continued to decrease
since hurricane Hugo.
1990/1991 WHALE SEASON
The 1990/1991 whale season was better than the
previous three years. Eighty one reports of marine
mammals from October 1990 to June 1991 resulted in
observations of over 90 adult humpbacks, 20 humpback
calves, two sperm, one finback, one minke and 20-22
pilot whales. In addition, 437+ spinner, nine bottlenose
and four possible Atlantic spotted dolphins were re-
ported. Four goosebeak and one Bryde's whale were
reported stranded on St. Croix. The Bryde's whale was
assisted in freeing itself and hopefully survived.
February was the peak month for sightings of hump-
back whales with over 50 adults and calves reported.
The majority of the humpback whale sightings occurred
north of St. Thomas and St. John (from .25 to 10 miles
offshore). Other sightings were from the British V.I., the
south and east sides of St. Thomas and St. John, the
North Dropoff and the west side of St. Croix.
Most of the reports were made by fishermen, sailors
and coastal residents. To every one of these people we
extend our thanks.

QUOTE
When the last individual of a race of
living things breathes no more, another
Heaven and another Earth must pass be-
fore such a one can be again.
William Beebe


'V "" I c This newsletter was funded by the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and
Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean
t7 Fishery Management Council and the
SGovernment of the VI.


BULK RATE
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.
PERMIT NO. 35


Address Correction Requested


e~a I ~ I I ---- ------------------ ------- ----------- ~--lc~--------- -------- ----


rs~--- ------s~-~ --------- ~-- --~-~-- ----- L---~---------~




Full Text

PAGE 1

Volume 3 Number 10 The American Kestrel ("Sparrow Hawk"), Falco sparverius, is the commonest of Antillean birds of prey. Typically seen in pairs, this little falcon (9 12" from tip of beak to tip of tail) may be seen to hover as it searches for food. Food consists mainly of'insects and lizards which are often hunted from a high perch. Nests are made in cavities in trees or on cliff ledges from February to June. The Division ofFish and Wildlife is starting a project to study the use of artificial nest habitat by this species. Nest boxes are available for interested persons who wish to place a nest box on their property, monitor it and provide us with the information. Please call if interested. NEW EMPLOYEE The Division of Fish and Wildlife recently hired Craig Barshinger as a Fisheries Biologist II on St. Thomas. Craig has lived and worked in the Virgin Islands off and on since 1979. During that time, Craig earned a Masters degree in marine biology from the University of Aix-Marseille, France. Craig will be collecting, computerizing and analyzing commercial and recreational fisheries data from the USVI. We welcome Craig on board. EXTINCTION It can be said with certainty that all species will become extinct at some time. Major extinction periods have occurred in the past and will undoubtedly occur again. However, these differ from the extinctions occurring now, in that one species, Homo sapiens (Man), is directly responsible for an extinction spasm possibly unprecedented ill the hIstory of our planet, unprecedented because of the rate at which it is occurring. Extinctions are not confined to tropical areas, they are occurring throughout the world. In temperate New Zealand, the impact of humans on the endemic bird fauna has been catastrophic, with 40 50% of all bird species having become extinct since human settlement some 1200 years ago. New Zealand plant species have come under considerable pressure since human settlement, especially in the 100 150 years of European settlement. Researchers describe 97 plant spe~ies or varieties now under direct threat of extinction in the wild and one researcher considers that some 17% of the New Zealand flora is presently at risk of extinction. Islands have been particularly prone to extinctions, with invasive animals (especially mammals such as mongoose, rats and donkeys) and habitat destruction being the major agents. The vulnerability of islands has been largely a consequence of the absence of mammals until the arrival of humans, and rapid habitat destruction (especially forest clearance) within the short period of human settlement. To conserve species at risk from extinction, we need to understand the processes that lead to species extinction. In some cases these are obvious and direct (e.g. habitat loss) but in many cases they are more subtle and include a mixture offactors that may be random or the result of a sequence of events. Unfortunately, in most cases we have little information on the factors that forced a species into extinction. It is important to document those species where there is information, to help prevent the extinction of other species. FISH TRAP MESH SIZE Commercial fishermen are reminded that as of September 14, 1991 all fish traps set in federal waters must have a mesh size of not less than 2 il')ches unless a regulatory amendment is passed which, will change this requirement to a mesh size of one and one-half inch hex mesh. All traps will also be required to have two'S" x S" escape panels fastened with VS inch untreated jute. The regulatory amendment will most likely be approved in time. Please call 775-6762 for additional information. MARLIN STUDIES ST. CROIX PROJECTS ~JNE RESERVE INFO

PAGE 2

LEATHERBACK NEWS While the 1991 leatherback turtle nesting season has not set any records for number of turtles (as we had thought it might) it has set a new record ~or number of nests in one season. As of the middle of July, 38 individual turtles (th~ record is 48) have laid over 260 nests (the previous record was 248). 'I11is means that the turtles this year are laying many more than the usual average of 5.5 nests per turtle per season. At least one turtle has nested at least ten times this season. Also, as of the middle of July, when the turtles are supposed to have stopped laying, they are still coming in one or two a night. 'I11is is producing a longer than normal nesting season which will carry the hatching season well into September with a greater chance of nest loss due to hurricane and tropical storm activity. To date, over 80 nests have hatched. Success rates have been relatively good. Persons interested in visiting Sandy Pt. in August to observe hatching activity should contact the St. Croix Environmental Assoc. at 773-1989. For as yet unexplained reasons, the Bridled tern populations in the USVI have continued to decrease since hurricane Hugo. 1990/1991 WHALE SEASON The 1990/1991 whale season was better than the previous three years. Eighty one reports of marine mammals from October 1990 to June 1991 resulted in observations of over 90 adult humpbacks, 20 humpback calves, two sperm, one finback, one minke and 20-22 pilot whales. In addition, 437+ spinner, nine bottlenose and four possible Atlantic spotted dolphins were reported. Four goosebeak and one Bryde's whale were reported stranded on St. Croix. The Bryde's whale was assisted in freeing itself and hopefully survived. February was the peak month for sightings of humpback whales with over 50 adults and calves reported. The majority of the humpback whale sightings occurred north of St. Thomas and St. John (from .25 to 10 miles offshore). Other sightings were from the British V.I., the south and east sides of St. Thomas and St. John, the North Dropoff and the west side of St. Croix. Most of the reports were made by fishermen, sailors and coastal residents. To every one of these people we extend our thanks. QUOTE When the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another Heaven and another Earth must pass before such a one can be again. William Beebe ;\.~a & ~ f..r ~ ~ ~ This newsletter was funded by the US ~ ~ Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and 2Q';;J ~ ~ildlife Restoration Acts, the.Caribbean t/) ~~~L/ I'7'i FIshery Management CouncIl and the ~t"... 0':::Government of the VI. .(ORA.'\:~ V.I. SEABIRD UPDATE The Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to monitor seabirds on the breeding grounds of the offshore cays of St. Thomas and St, John. Sooty terns continue to be the most abundant seabird in the territory and the large colony on Saba appears to be stable. With the assistance of twenty volunteers from Portland State University, over 600 sooties were banded -not a bad effort for two hours of work. Three mixed-species colonies of Sandwich and Royal terns were found on offshore cays. The USVI breeding population of Roseate terns was higher than last year's. The Division has begun a study of the breeding and distribution of the Caribbean population of the Roseate tern as part ofajoint effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the recovery and conservation of this threatened species. Tree. were ,(;Wed by printing on recycled paper BULK RATE u.s. POSTAGE PAID CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V. PERMIT NO. 35 GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OF THE UNITED STAreS ****** Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife 101 Estate Nazareth St. Thomas, USVI 00802 (809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.) Address Correction Requested