In June of this year, scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)will begin the second phase of research aimed at characterizing impacts of land-based sourcesof pollution on diverse habitats of the St. Thomas East End Reserve (STEER) in the US VirginIslands.
The first phase of the research took place in June of 2011 and involved a Bioeffectsassessment of sediment contamination, benthic community characterization and sedimenttoxicity throughout the STEER. During the second phase (Jun 2012), NCCOS researcherswill be conducting a biological habitat survey of the entire Reserve, along with the collectionof biota (coral, conch and fish) for chemical contaminant analysis and histological evaluation.
Additionally, as a part of this research, NCCOS and the University of the Virgin Islands arecollaborating on monthly monitoring for nutrients, total suspended solids (a measure of turbidityin the water column), and sedimentation (a measure of the amount of sediment being depositedon reefs and other habitats in the STEER) using sediment traps.
At its completion, this researchwill provide managers with integrated baseline assessment information that can be used tounderstand current conditions and optimize restoration and resource management efforts toenhance valuable resources in the STEER. Partners in the project include the USVI Departmentof Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Coastal ZoneManagement and Environmental Protection, the University of the Virgin Islands, and The NatureConservancy.