Following up on last year's contaminant characterization field mission, scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science recently completed a two-week field mission to the St. Thomas East End Reserve. This year's mission culminates a two-year effort to develop a baseline understanding of the reserve's contamination, its toxicity, and also marine resources protected within its bounds.
Divers surveyed fish communities and bottom habitats at 80 locations both in and near the reserve. In addition, scientists collected tissues from coral and conch at several locations for examination and analysis.
Results of this assessment will provide the reserve's managers with the information they need to preserve and restore habitats, and will help identify future projects to reduce land-based sources of pollution.
NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program funded this mission, which was conducted in collaboration with multiple regional partners, including The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and the University of the Virgin Islands.