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Tropic news. Volume 9. Issue 10.

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Title:
Tropic news. Volume 9. Issue 10.
Series Title:
Tropic news
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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English

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Caribbean ( LCSH )
Newspapers -- Caribbean ( LCSH )
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serial ( sobekcm )
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North America -- United States Virgin Islands
Caribbean

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University of Florida
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TROPIC NEWS


APARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES
July 1997


DIVISION OF FTSH AND WTLnT.T r


Volume 9 Number 10


_____________________


Do Closed Areas Work?

In 1990, the spawning area for red hind grou-
pers south of St. Thomas was closed to all fishing
activities from December 1 to February 28 each
year. The purpose of this regulation was to protect
the hind during their spawning period to allow
stocks of this species to recover from previous over
harvest. Red hind, like most groupers, form spawn-
ing aggregations and are thus very easily caught in
large numbers.
The closure was enacted due to data which
indicated declining numbers of red hind being
caught, declining size of fish and a decline in num-
bers of male fish in the population (all are born as
females and change to males when they reach a
certain size but were being caught before they
could reach that size). Since the closure in 1990,
the effectiveness of this management action had
not been evaluated.
During January, 1997, an evaluation was made
of the spawning aggregation closure. The evalua-
tion used trap and handline sampling, video sam-
pling and direct visual transect sampling. The data
collected by these methods suggests that protection
of spawning aggregations is a very effective man-
agement strategy. Numbers of fish caught per unit
of gear (trap or handline) were higher than in 1988
(the last year where data was collected from the
spawning area), the overall size of fish was greater
and the number of males to females had increased
to approximately one male to four females (1:15 in
1988). This increase in health of the spawning
aggregation translates to more fish being caught
outside of the closed area and during the rest of the
year.
The success of this area closure suggests that
other spawning aggregations should be identified
and protected similarly. The conclusion of this
study is that this management strategy appears to
be very valuable for the conservation of species
which form spawning aggregations. Continuation
of this closure should result in more, larger fish in
the future in all areas of the northern Virgin Is-
lands waters. This will benefit not only fishermen
but everyone who loves to eat fish.
Excerpted from: Beets, J and A. Friedlander. 1997. Evalua-
tion of the spawning aggregation closure for red hind, St.
Thomas, USVI. Report to the Caribbean Fishery Management


Gone Fishing

S July is National Fishing
month and the local fish-
ing tournament season is
4 fin full swing. Fishermen of
all ages have had the
chance to participate in a
variety of fishing tourna-
ments during the month of
July.
The Division of Fish and
Wildlife attends these
tournaments in order to obtain information on
species, quantity, weight and length of fish caught.
This very important information is used in deter-
mining the status of the fish populations and
developing resource management strategies.
The July Open was held on July 5-6, at Sap-
phire Beach Resort. This tournament, organized by
the V.I. Gamefish Club, featured three categories,
Inshore, Offshore and Onshore. The Onshore
category was aimed at getting the youngsters to
enjoy the fishing experience. All of the participants
took home prizes including tackle boxes, flash-
lights, cash and bikes.
July 12-13, the Northside Sportfishing Club
hosted the Annual Bastille Day Tournament. This
is probably the highlight of the fishing season,
when fishing enthusiasts get a chance at a variety
of prizes.
The Governor's Cup Billfish Tournament was
held at American Yacht Harbor on July 18-20. In
this tournament, we saw a number of fishermen
from Puerto Rico. There was even talk of a Virgin
Islands vs. Puerto Rico Tournament since our
neighbors tend to win quite a number of the tour-
naments each year.
The Boy Scout and Vitelcellular Tournaments
will be held in August 15-18, 1997.

Quote
"If a child is to keep alive (their) inborn sense of
wonder... (they) need the companionship of at least
one adult who can share it, rediscovering with
(them) the joy, excitement and mystery of the
world we live in. "
Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder






Leatherback Turtles
The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea),
lacks the hard shell or carapace normally associ-
ated with other turtles. It's back is covered with
seven leather-like plates. It is the largest of the sea
turtles females grow to six feet in length and
weigh over 1,000 pounds; males grow even bigger.
Adult leatherbacks usually live in temperate/
subtropical waters where they feed mostly on
jellyfish. Every two or three years, female leather-
backs head for tropical waters where they nest on
warm sandy beaches like Sandy Point, St. Croix.
Nesting usually takes place from March to July.
It is quite a struggle for this huge animal to
move onto land to lay her eggs. She reaches out
with her strong flippers and drags herself forward
in the soft sand. It is thought that turtles normally
return to nest on the very beaches on which they
hatched, but no one knows how, out of the whole
vast ocean, they are able to find that one beach.
The turtle tends to be nervous as she ap-
proaches the beach. This is the time when loud
noises, lots of activity, movement, and especially
light like camp fires, flood lights or even flash
lights may upset her and send her back out to sea.
When the turtle finds a place on the beach that
she likes she begins the first phase of the nesting
ritual called- body pitting. Scientists are not sure
how turtles decide where to nest; there are even
times when the place she chooses is too close to the
water or where the beach is likely to wash out.
Body pitting is done with the long front flippers.
The turtle flings loose sand away from herself and
smooths the whole area around her nesting site.
This helps keep the dry surface sand from falling
into her nest.
The turtle now begins serious digging. Using her
back flippers first scooping sand out with one,


then the other the turtle digs until she cannot
reach any deeper. This is usually about two to
three feet down into moist sand, and may take half
an hour or so. If the turtle is satisfied with her
nest, she begins to lay her eggs. If something is
wrong with the nest sometimes the sand caves in
or water or roots may be in the nest she may dig
elsewhere or return to sea and try another night.
Each female lays between 60 and 100 eggs in
each nest. The eggs are about 2.5 inches in diam-
eter, round and white. After all the eggs are laid in
the nest, the turtle uses her back flippers to cover
the eggs with sand. Camouflaging is the last phase
of the nesting ritual. When the turtle is satisfied
that her nest is well hidden, she heads back into
the sea. After about 10 days at sea, she will return
again. She will probably repeat this pattern from
three to eight times (up to 12) in a season.
After about two months in the sand, the eggs
will hatch. These tiny turtles, which are no bigger
than a child's hand, begin their journey to the sea.
The hatchlings may be eaten by night herons or
crabs. They can fall in a rut or footprint or become
tangled in seaweed or beach trash. If they are
trapped until day, mongoose or sea birds may eat
them or they may be baked by the sun.
Once the hatchlings finally reach the sea, fish
and sea birds prey on them. No one knows where
these young turtles go to grow. But we do know it
takes 12 to 14 years before they return to nest, and
life is not easy for a baby turtle.
By Carol B. Flemming and P. Joy Michaud, UVI CES
5$& h This newsletter was funded by the US
6?Pa Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and
;J Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean
:0R +O Fishery Management Council and the
%R Government of the VI.
Donna M. Griffin Editor
RalfH. Boulon Jr. ChierofEnvirr,nmren.ta FiucrPrin


GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES

Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
6291 Estate Nazareth 101
St. Thomas, USVI 00802-1104
(809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.)






Address Correction Requested


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


Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper


I~GIIPBI1EIPrrrm~PII~l~~l;n~G~J~FliF~JI _




Full Text

PAGE 1

July 1997 Volume 9 Number 10 Do Closed Areas Work? Gone Fishing ~ July is National Fishing month and the local fish. ing tournament season is in full swing. Fishermen of . all ages have had the chance to participate in a variety of fishing tournaments during the month of July. \ The Division of Fish and Wildlife attends these tournaments in order to obtain information on species, quantity, weight and length offish caught. This very important information is used in determining the status of the fish populations and developing resource management strategies. The July Open was held on July 5-6, at Sapphire Beach Resort. This tournament, organized by the V.I. Gamefish Club, featured three categories, Inshore, Offshore and Onshore. The Onshore category was aimed at getting the youngsters to enjoy the fishing experience. All of the participants took home prizes including tackle boxes, flashlights, cash and bikes. July 12-13, the Northside Sportfishing Club hosted the Annual Bastille Day Tournament. This is probably the highlight of the fishing season, when fishing enthusiasts get a chance at a variety of prizes. The Governor's Cup Billfish Tournament was held at American Yacht Harbor on July 18-20. In this tournament, we saw a number of fishermen from Puerto Rico. Ther~ was even talk of a Virgin Islands vs. Puerto Rico Tournament since our neighbors tend to win quite a number of the tournaments each year. The Boy Scout and Vitelcellular Tournaments will be held in August 15-18, 1997. In 1990, the spawning area for red hind groupers south of St. Thomas was closed to all fishing activities from December 1 to February 28 each year. The purpose of this regulation was to protect the hind during their spawning period to allow stocks of this species to recover from previous over harvest. Red hind, like most groupers, form spawning aggregations and are thus very easily caught in large numbers. The closure was enacted due to data which indicated declining numbers of red hind being caught, declining size offish and a decline in numbers of male fish in the population (all are born as females and change to males when they re~ch a certain size but were being caught before they could reach that size). Since the closure in 1990, the effectiveness of this management action had not been evaluated. During January, 1997, an evaluation was made of the spawning aggregation closure. The evaluation used trap and handline sampling, video sampling and direct visual transect sampling. The data collected by these methods suggests that protection of spawning aggregations is a very effective management strategy. Numbers of fish caught per unit of gear (trap or handline) were higher than in 1988 (the last year where data was collected from the spawning area), the overall size of fish was greater and the number of males to females had increased to approximately one male to four females (1:15 in 1988). This increase in health of the spawning aggregation translates to more fish being caught outside of the closed area and during the rest of the year. The success of this area closure suggests that other spawning aggregations should be identified and protected similarly. The conclusion of this study is that this management strategy appears to be very valuable for the conservation of species which form spawning aggregations. Continuation of this closure should result in more, larger fish in the future in all areas of the northern Virgin Islands waters. This will benefit not only fishermen but everyone who loves to eat fish. Quote "If a child is to keep alive (their) inborn sense of wonder... (they) need the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with (them) the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. " Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder Excerp~d from: Beets, J and A. Friedlander. 1997. Evalua. tion of the spawning aggregation closure for red hind, St. Thomas, USVI. Report to the Caribbean Fisherv Manaf!ement

PAGE 2

;'f;!, L th b k T 1 ,;;:""c ,:;: ea er ac urt es ,:", , ::T:he:leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), lackS the hard shell or carapace normally associatedWith;otherturtles. It's back is covered With " seven leather-like plates. It is the largest of the sea t1irtles ,-females grow to six feet in length and ,~~i~~:?ver:l,OOO pounds; ~ales grow even bigger. : Adult leatherbacks usually live in temperate! subtropical waters where they feed mostly on jellyfish. Every two or three years, female leatherbac~headfor tropical waters where they nest on :warmsandy beaches like Sandy Point, St. Croix. Nesting usually takes place from March to July. :..1t.is quite a struggle forthishuge:aI).imal to move onto land to lay her eggs. She ,reaches out ,With: her, strong flippers and drags herself forward in,the:soft:sand..lt is thought that turtles normally ;return:tonestopthe very beaches on which 'they , hatched, but no one knows how, out of the whole vast ocean, they are able to find that one beach. ;:::The:tunletends to be nervous as she approachesthe :beach. This is the time when loud ,,: ,: .. . nolses",lots;:ofactlVlty, movement, and es~clally light,likecamp:fires, flood lights or even flash lights may upset her:andsend her back out to sea. : : When:the:turtle:findsaplace on the beach that : ' she likes she begins the first phase of the nesting ritual:called-bodypitting. Scientists are not sure how:t.urtles decide where to nest; there are even timeswhen:the place:shechooses is too close to the water;or:wherethebeach is likely to wash out. Body'pittingis:done With the long front flippers. The turtle flings loose sand away from herself and " smooths; the whole area around her nesting site. This helps keep the dry surface sand from falling :into:hernest.:":: : ,,' : , The turtle now begins serious digging. Using her back:flippers-first:scooninE! sand out With one. ~ then the other the turtle digs until she cannot reach any deeper. This is usually about two to three feet down into moist sand, and may take half an hour or so. .If the turtle is satisfied with her nest, she begins to lay her eggs. If something is wrong with the nest sometimes the sand caves in or water or roots may be W the nest -she may dig elsewhere or return to sea and try another night. EachfemaIe lays between 60 and 100 eggs in each nest. The eggs are about 2.5 inches in diameter, round and white. Mer all the eggs are laid in the nest, the turtle uses her back flippers to cover the eggs with sand. Camouflaging is the last phase of the nesting ritual. When the turtle is satisfied that her nest is well hidden, she heads back into the sea. After about 10 days at sea, she will return again. She will probably repeat this pattern from three to eight times (up to 12) in a season. Mer about two months in the sand, the eggs will hatch. These tiny turtles, which are no bigger than a child's hand, begin their journey to the sea. The hatchlings may be eaten by night herons or crabs.. They can fall in a rut or footprint or become tangled in seaweed or beach trash. ffthey are trapped until day, mongoose or sea birds may eat them or they may be baked by the sun. Once the hatchlings finally reach the sea, fish and sea birds prey on them. No one knows where these young turtles go to grow. But we do know it takes 12 to 14 years before they return to nest, and life is not easy for a baby turtle. By Carol B. Flemminr! and P. JOY Michaud. WI CES ,. ~S1\ &: ~ This newsletter was funded by the US "" ~~ Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and ~~:~~~ ~ildlife Restoration Acts, the,Caribbean ~J:'i 0-<' Fishery Management CouncIl and the ~.fbR"~~ Government of the VI. Donna M. Griffin Editor RalfH. BoulonJr. -Chief of Environmental Rt!IIl'"tinn BULK RATE U.S. POSTAGE PAID CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.I. PERMIT NO. 35 'c " , , "GOYERN~NTOP,rnEYIRGIN ISLANDS "",," 0 P'rnE UN ITED S TATES .'OepartmentofPlanriing and Natural Resources Diyisionof Fish and Wildlife t{c','6291Estate Nazareth 101 St. Thomas. usvr 00802-1104 (809)I7;5~6762{ST..T:o).C809)772-1955 CST .X.) Address Correction Requested Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper