Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Hassell Island, the island least visited
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 Material Information
Title: Hassell Island, the island least visited
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: 2000
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00251
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Hassell Island, the

Olaser Davis, an ecologist,. is a
Doily News contributing colum.-
nist. He lives on St. Crolx.
Very few Virgin Islanders know
the cultural and natural history of
Hassel Island. In fact. few of us
have ever visited this island.
A trip to Husel Island, which is
about 55 bectares located south in
St. Thomas harbor, can be well
worth your time. It is about 1.6
kilometers long and a little over
half a kilometer at the widest
There is good hiking, historical
ruins and wildlife to discover, and
small beaches for swimming and
Cowell Battery. the highest point
on the island. is about 80 meters
above sea level. The coastline has
both rocky promontories and shel-
tered coves.
There is no fresh water on this
island that was once connected to
St. Thomas by a low spit of land
called Iaulover.
History has it that the haulover
was removed during the early
1900s to ease the pollution in St.
Thomas harbor.
Whatever the reason, the island
is unique in terms of its natural
However, the vegetation has beon
greatly influenced by human activ-
ity Goats and cattle once grazed
on the island. This of course
impacted its natural vegetation.
The south end of the island, how-
ever. is probably the only area that
was untouched by domestic ani-
Hassel island has a very diverse
flora of 299 species in 66 families
in addition to many other orna-
mental plants. The mangrove for-
est is only one type in the island
vegetation ecosystems. Mangroves
are very productive systems which

support a high
fish and other
ecosystem food
on the release of
decomposition o
which supports
The ponds on
red. black, whit
mangroves. As
constant salt spr
the mangroves u
Another type
the basin moisi
is small, mostly
leys of the island
has 64 species
ices with the
tree, black olive
black olive tree i
one of the heavy
Virgin Islands.
The black oliw
construction of
pots, and chdao
for building floa
forms and heavy
tdon,.to mamea fe
from the bark w.
to relieve swollen
of the wood v
Irees were have
Hassel Islands
places in the Vit
the tree grows w
Dry evergree
forest occupies
It is character
small thick, hard

island least visited

The class of this forest has fewer
spiny species with more weedy
species. It has about 124 species.
0Disme 44 of which are trees. The thon
Davis and cactus is another type of vego-
ation that occupies Ithe island. The
tree cacti. pilocemus royenii and
opuntia rubcicens dominated this
particular type of spiny landscape
vegetation. This group of forest
diversity of bird. has 65 species. 22 of which are
wildlife. These trees.
web based largely e nck paemen and coasl
nutrients from the hedge of the island is diversified with
frmangrove leaves vegetation type rngig fim ca,
near shore fish- open patches. to a closed forest
canopy. In thiscoastal environment it
the island have the coanins41 speciesofplasaswitholy
e and butlonwood a few large tMe. Many species such
a lsul, from the asConopucrams, rithais, fiid-
ay from the ocean. oam Coccoloba uviferaSurianait.
usually grow dwarf iine and Caomine xylocapa ocpiied
lthe island coanul cvirtomment.
of. vegetation is The condalay vegetation occupies
forest. This forest mson of the island, This means to
located in the val. this vegetation type is not the virgin
d. This forest type Bes it was in 1493. It was disamted
of which 26 are due ohbu nacaaiviies
dominated tallest B havesubdividedthisve-
. The wood of the a type into four caegogies. They
s very hard. It was ame coion saub, leuoena scrub aca
'icst wood on the cia scrub palm and grass. This cavi-
rosment contains 120 species of
ee was used f6r plants including Pa.icum maximum
rence pols. house along the idg at higher elevalsi
aL It was also used on the island.
rs, machinery plat The terrestrial enviroamcal on
crior e onasttm the island also has a direct influ-
w. ence on the tsarine eavironmenat.
the resinous gum Trees. mangrove forests, scrub.
s boiled and used and other vegetation types hold the
n glands. Because soil together. When rain falls, the
alue, many large vegetation canopies act as a nar-
slted. al buffer to protect the marine
is one of the few environment
ngin Islands where If you want to see the historical
ild. siles and hike n Hassel Itland, once
thicket or scrub refered to as "Estate Ortmanillhe"
most of the island, which is Danish or hurricane, comle
aed by evergreen the Virgin Islands National Park
I or fleshy leaves. Service.

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