Virgin Islands National Park 2015

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Ringing in the New Year in the Caribbean. The National Parks Experience fall semester students enjoyed the first days of 2015 in Virgin Island National Park on the island of St. John. We arrived on the island on December 30 after a long day of traveling. New Years Eve was spent snorkeling Salt Pond Bay and Blue Cobblestone Beach. We ushered in the New Year by hiking up to Ram Head cliffs before sunrise. The first light of a new year shone on our faces as we looked out over the Caribbean Sea.

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Above: New Year’s Day 2015 on Ram Head Cliffs

The following days were spent snorkeling locations such as Water Lemon Cay, Hanson Bay and the Princess Bay mangroves. Students also explored the sugar mill ruins of Annaburg, Cathrineburg, Reef Bay and Cinnamon Bay. No trip to St. John could be complete without a hike to view the petroglyphs. These petroglyphs were carved by the native people of St. John over a thousand years ago. The true meaning of the images can only be theorized as the people and culture that created them have been erased.

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Above: Snorkeling in Princess Bay Mangroves

The night snorkels brought shrieks of excitement and fear, especially when several members of the group were fortunate enough to have a nurse shark swim by and check them out. The list of wildlife that we had the opportunity to observe is much too long to list. Highlights would include: spotted eagle ray, hawksbill sea turtles, nurse sharks, reef shark, octopus, squid, and over 100 different species of fish and invertebrates that call the coral reef home. Cap off the week with an evening of singing and dancing with Ital, and you have created memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

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