Apparently, the bioluminescent bay in Vieques has stopped luminescing. Here's an article from today's Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/17/wonder-world-climate-mosquito-bay-puerto-rico?CMP=ema_565. Has anyone noticed a similar change in Salt River? I really, really hope not.
I believe the Salt River "Bio Bay" was man-made, the residual of a long abandoned hotel/marina development that ran out of money. I'm no scientist, but I think the lesson with these bioluminescent phenomenon is that they can come and they can go and we should enjoy them while they are there.
I still see it every night leading my night snorkels in Hull Bay. Some nights are better than others but even last month I was able to get the Bermuda glow worms on film mating!! IT WAS AWSOME. Looked like aliens. You see the female at the surface put out a long trail and hen the male zips in lighting up at the last second. I haven't been able get the smaller dinoflagellates on video thou.
There's a second Bio Bay on Puerto Rico, right outside of La Parguera on the Southwestern point. It's incredible, but it's also dying due to residential construction near the Bay. Talks of dredging the entryway (to allow more tourists into the Bay) will also disturb the Bay's natural eco-system, and therefore cause the dinoflagellates to die. See these wonders while they're still here.
While I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, the situation in PR is sad...and the bay "going dark" is hurting the local tourist economy. Salt River Bay's own treasure is currently in jeopardy, too!!
Two studies were recently done (year long studies). One by the NPS and the MREC consortium, and the other was funded by SEA and local donors. The goal was to study this fantastic phenomena, and learn how to protect it, and let current and future generations enjoy it. A symposium on the studies' findings was held at UVI over Memorial Day weekend. Dr Latz, a renowned bioluminescent researcher from Scripps Institute of Oceanography revealed that our Bio Bay has comparable luminosity readings to some of the brightest recorded in the world!(daily readings do vary in intensity) There are currently less than 8 locations like this in the world...and the natural organism should be studied and protected, not destroyed.
It is true that the "mangrove lagoon" or Bio Bay as most of us know it was created back in the 1960's as part of a "future" marina for a hotel development this was subsequently stopped. Over the years, this historic area of Salt River Bay was fought for and protected by the NPS and local government and residents; the land surrounding Bio Bay and the Cape of Arrows originally belonging to the Sugar Bay Land Development, LTD was purchased and incorporated into the Salt River Bay Historical and Ecological Preserve. This park is a PUBLIC park that has BOTH A HISTORICAL LANDMARK AND NATURAL LANDMARK DESIGNATION. There are only a handful of US National Parks with this type of dual designation. St Croix we should all be proud of this!!
HERE'S WHERE WE NOW HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION, FOLKS!! This valuable land and BIO BAY are now part of a master plan to create a Marine Research and Education Center - created and managed by a consortium of universities, the NPS, Office of Insular Affairs and the Government of VI. Sounds great, right? WRONG!!!
The plan is for the Bio Bay to become the school's marina...building a dock, and housing several vessels. What happens to the bioluminescence?! The kayak and tourist business in and around both Bio Bay and Salt River Bay? Access to this "public park land and water" will be controlled by the MREC partners. Any changes to the turbidity or quality of the water will absolutely negatively impact the bioluminescent creatures...and almost guarantee it will go dark like PR. Hemer's Peninsula is slated for the parking lot... so mangrove trees will be removed (I believe this is a Federal offense, as they are protected?) Over 25 endangered species who call Salt River Bay their home will be impacted by the development on this historic "protected" land and sea. The very coral that the MREC wants to study will be negatively effected due to the construction, runoff, silt and changes in the typography of the land. Mangroves protect the coral and also are home to our vital fish nurseries... construction around them will also effect this ecosystem. The NPS will claim that since the "physical" lagoon was "man-made" it should not be protected or preserved... grossly disregarding that it now contains a NATURAL biological and UNIQUE TREASURE!! Was Mt Rushmore "natural" or man-made? The pyramids? I fail to see the logic of why the bay should not NOW be protected.
So, the question is... why is it now acceptable for the NPS to build on this land, when it was illegal and stopped in 1994? There are important archaeological burial and settlement finds in this land (not to be confused with the ceremonial ball court on Columbus Landing across the bay!).
You can find more about this subject on the SaveSaltRiverBay.com website...and if you want to take action to insure the bio bay doesn't go dark, please sign the petition!!! There are many alternative sites for the MREC project to be built on... but these suggestions - all of which would be more cost-effective and get the coral research started faster, are being ignored.
So we wonder ...why is this land even appropriate for building upon? So students can have a world-class view?? What is more important ...the research or the building? This land is also in the 100 yr flood plan and protected (or should be!!) by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (signed by Clinton back in 2000) which forbids development on this land...
Who is enforcing the laws around here??