Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Ocean's Rules and Regulations

Good afternoon everyone,

This is Ranger Lewis from the Virgin Islands National Park. The beginning of my week 2 started out with officially meeting my supervisor, park ranger Ludric Smith. He was out on medical leave my arrival week and I must say, he is a swell guy. We've gotten to know each other and he shared with me some stories & experiences that he had with the park service as an African-American male that I felt pertained to me a lot. I've never encountered an African-American ranger before in the park service so I appreciated his perspective on being a ranger.
Ranger Smith issuing a verbal warning to this individual to not exceed the 3 hour anchor zone time limit.

Part of being an effective ranger is knowing the major and most frequent laws that are often broken within the park. My first week here was more focused on the land of the park however, the ocean is a whole different ball game as far as regulations go. I've learned that there are numerous laws set in place that are here to protect the resources and there are a lot of habitual offenders that like to break these rules for personal gain. A very popular poaching item in the park service is Conch. The rule at V.I.N.P. is that any one person can take from the park a maximum of 2 per day per person. Conch is a sea animal that likes to live on the reefs of the park and can be poached for its meat. It is considered a delicacy on the islands. I haven't had any yet but the annual carnival is this Friday and I'll be getting some so I'll keep everyone posted about that.
A total of 17 Conch confiscated from a contact exceeding the said limit during boat patrol.
 I had my Adobo ready but they had to be stored as evidence, sadly.

Last year, I interned at Gettysburg National Military Park and made a lot of good friends up there but, I also learned that Gettysburg National Military Park and the Virgin Islands National Park having something in common. G.N.M.P. has a partner organization called the Gettysburg Foundation which helps them out with numerous things around the park. V.I.N.P. also has a partner organization called Friends of the Virgin Islands. Friends is a huge benefactor to the park and helps out financially. They implement systems and features to the park that would otherwise be impossible. Money is always tight with the park service. For example, the park started to move away from anchoring in 2013 and into moorings to secure vessels on the ocean inside of the park. The reason for this change from anchoring is because when a vessel throws out their anchor, it drags and moves destroying the sea grass beds that marine animals use for food. It also destroys coral reefs which is absolutely prohibited inside of the park. Moorings are cemented to large rocks in the ocean chained to a sphere ball structure that is floating and boats secure themselves without having the need to anchor. The whole system was provided by Friends and amounted to about 600,000 dollars to implement. That being said, NO ANCHORING within the park please.

Fun Fact: They drive on the left side of the rode down here. So awkward.

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