- Sea Turtles
National Parks of the Virgin islands
Animals of the National Park
There are 140 species of birds, 302 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 22 species of mammals and 740 species of plants inhabiting the Island. In addition there are about 50 corals species and numerous gorgonians, and sponges providing St. Johnian’s and visitors with some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world.
Culture of the Virgin Islands
The first humans arrived in the Virgin Islands between 2500 to 3000 years ago.
The Taino culture developed between 500 to 1000 years ago.
Columbus discovers the islands in 1493.
Visitors from the United States began vacationing and moving to the Virgin Islands between 1920 and 1950.
The Virgin Islands National Park was established in 1956.
Nature of the Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands National Park located in the tropical Atlantic, contains examples of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems. These include various types of dry to moist forests, salt ponds, beaches, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The land is mountainous, with average slopes being 30 percent. Bordeaux mountain, 1286 feet high, plunges sharply to the sea.
Turtles of the Virgin Islands
There are seven species of sea turtles in the world, and three of these inhabit the waters of St. John. The two most common are the green and hawksbill turtles, while the leatherback is rarely seen. Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water only coming ashore to nest. Turtles travel thousands of miles a year.
For those that are not very familiar with the Virgin Islands, you might be surprised to hear that St. John is approximately 60% national park!
Quick history and facts about the St. John National Park
In 1917 the United States bought St. John from Denmark. By the 1930s, news of the beautiful American island had spread to the United States mainland and the beginning of what was to become a tourism boom on St. John was established.
Laurence Rockefeller in 1956 donated land to the Federal Government to establish a National Park. The 5000 acres became the nation’s twenty-ninth National Park. The land was presented to Fred Seaton, who was the Secretary of the Interior, he promised the government would ‘take good and proper care of these precious acres and verdant hills and valleys and miles of sunny, sandy shores’. Since then other donations have been made and presently the Virgin Islands National Park includes 7200 acres of land and 5600 acres of underwater land.
Today St. John thrives as a favored tourist destination. A construction boom in the past couple of years is changing St. John from a quiet, sleepy island to one with a little more traffic and development.
Note: The information contained in this brief history was gathered from St. John Back time Eyewitness Accounts from 1718 to 1956, compiled by Ruth Hull Low and Rafael Valls, printed in 1985, and John Lonzo Anderson’s Random Notes on the History of St. John printed in 1970. Compiled from The National Park Service.
You can also read more on the park at National Geographic by clicking here
Here in the Virgin Islands we love our SEA TURTLES! The community has many programs and non-profit organizations advocating for our turtles so we like to think they love us back!
About Sea Turtles
- Common items include jellyfish, seaweed, crabs, shrimp, sponges, snails, algae and mollusk.
- Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water, where not much information can be gathered on their behavior. Most of what is known about sea turtle behavior is obtained by observing hatchlings and females that leave the water to lay eggs. Sea turtles, like salmon, will return to the same nesting grounds at which they were born. When females come to the shore, they dig out a nest in the ground with their back flippers, bury their clutch of eggs and return to the ocean. After hatching, the young may take as long as a week to dig themselves out of the nest. They emerge at night, move toward the ocean and remain there, solitary, until it is time to mate.
- It is difficult to find population numbers for sea turtles because male and juvenile sea turtles do not return to shore once they hatch and reach the ocean, which makes it hard to keep track of them.
Sea Turtles of the Virgin Island
Friends of Virgin Islands National Park websites explains that two endangered sea turtles, the hawksbill and the green, are commonly seen in St. John’s waters. The hawksbill, shown here, comes ashore on remote St. John beaches to dig its nest and lay eggs. After burying the eggs in the warm sand, the female returns to offshore waters. When the youngsters hatch, they instinctively turn toward the sea. Despite laws protecting them in some countries, they are still hunted in some areas for their shells and meat.
Sea Turtle Information & Organizations
- The Sea Turtle Conservancy
- supports Sea Turtle Research and Conservation in the United States. The website has a ton of wonderful information, including a great Frequently Asked Questions About Sea Turtles section.
- They also have worked rehabilitating injured Sea Turtles and releasing them back into the Ocean with non invasive trackers. Would you like to see where these Turtles have been? Check out their live migration maps here!
Have you ever been to the Virgin Islands and spotted a Sea Turtle while snorkeling? Share your story with us below!