CHRISTIANSTED – Buck Island Reef National Monument is pleased to announce the beginning of partnership research project. Throughout July and August, biologists from California Polytechnic State University, in partnership with the University of the Virgin Islands, will be studying grazing scars on live coral tissues at several locations around Buck Island, including the South Fore-reef and the lagoon, and at several other study locations around St. Croix (Long Reef, Cane Bay, Carambola, and Teague Bay). The research team, led by California Polytechnic State University – Department of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Ben Ruttenberg and graduate student Madelyn Roycroft, will perform coral surveys, benthic photoquadrat surveys, and characterize coral colonies and benthic habitat surrounding coral colonies with grazing scars. The team will count and estimate the sizes of parrotfish, and record the habitat types encountered. The study will provide insight into the rates of parrotfish corallivory, or consumption and eating of coral, and compare these rates between Buck Island and the other study sites. This data may also provide evidence for the kinds of factors driving coral consumption at these locations.

Ruttenberg and Roycroft will present an overview of the project on Thursday, July 6th, 2017 at 5:30pm in the Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse first floor meeting room. Everyone is welcome. The Christiansted National Historic Site parking lot will remain open until 7:pm for those attending the talk.

The National Park Service thanks all of our community members and friends for 52 years of support for Buck Island Reef NM and we look forward to an exciting year of events celebrating our unique resource.