Category Archives: St. John

Underwater Reggae!

This reggae video was filmed in St.John, above and below the water. Love the lyrics since I am crazy about snorkeling here and because the filming underwater matches up with the music!

http://youtu.be/AshZokZSN3Y

The official Rhythm of Life Music Video. Artist: Angel EXODUS Bolques, Produced and Directed by E Franklin Tulloch. Written by A.Bolques, J. Hamilton, EF Tulloch, Earthbound studios/EFT/AB copyright 2013 (C) Watch in 1080p HD.

Lyrics (with a few unknowns):

It’s the rhythm of life, sounds so nice, it’s paradise (x3)

Some like to talk about the birds and the bees,

I want to talk about the fish and the seas,

I love the currents of the lovely ocean,

I love to watch the waves in slow motion,

Watch them bust against the rocks and the sand,

It mixes up to make a love potion

The ocean is filled with wild life,

Come take a trip to Love City, Virgin Isle,

Come stay a while and set your sundial,

Under St. John it’s paradise mile for mile

Come feel it for yourself,

Just relax and swim,

You don’t need to move (?) just let the rhythm take you away,

So you’re diving under water and feeling so free,

Check out this underwater community,

It’s a hidden life under the sea,

It’s like a city within the coral reefs,

Watch out for de seafans, them a’sway like trees,

Fish and turtle dem swim round the reefs (?),

Schools of fishes dem a move like family,

Reflections of colors dem a look so pretty,

Nothing compares to this island’s beauty,

So come stay with us in Love City…

St. John’s Hermit Crab Migration

Beautiful red St. John hermit crab climbing up a rock in the beach after the mass migration to the water on August 22, 2013.
Beautiful red St. John hermit crab climbing up a rock in the beach after the mass migration to the water on August 22, 2013.

St. John had another hermit crab migration last Thursday (08/22/13) and I was able to see the very end of it. I arrived at 11:30am to the shore at Nanny Point and had to pick my way along the stone beach in order not to step on any hermit crabs.  St. John resident Pam Gaffin had been keeping an eye on the crabs for over a week as they gathered under the trees along the beach. She said she arrived around 5am and the migration was in full swing, with a pile up of hermit crabs at its deepest that would reach her elbow (if sticking her hand down into the migrating crabs.) Last year she and Steve Simonsen caught the migration on video at its height. You can watch it here.

Hermit crabs collecting along the rocky shore in St. John during their mass migration to the water to release their eggs.  Occasionally the crabs would wrestle and there is some lack of clarity on what is happening - maybe crab sex, although that should have happened earlier for egg release.  This wrestling usually brought other smaller crabs to the event who climbed on top of the two crabs...?
Hermit crabs collecting along the rocky shore in St. John during their mass migration to the water to release their eggs. Occasionally the crabs would wrestle and there is some lack of clarity on what is happening – maybe crab sex, although that should have happened earlier for egg release. This wrestling usually brought other smaller crabs to the event who climbed on top of the two crabs…?

 By the time I arrived it seems the stragglers were making their way back up to the trees, with a few hermit crabs still hoping to get close enough to the shore and incoming waves to release their eggs. Pam pointed out the area where the crabs were the thickest and the rocks were larger.  Here the hermit crabs can secure themselves in cracks and crevices in order not to get washed into the ocean with the incoming waves. Apparently the crabs fill their shells up with water in a motion that looks like they are lifting their shells up and down on their body, and this releases the eggs out in the ocean. The mass migration allows for some protection of the crabs and eggs from predators.

The view under my feet of the rocks and the way the remaining hermit crabs wedged themselves in between the rocks on the beach, hoping for a last big wave to wash over them.
The view under my feet of the rocks and the way the remaining hermit crabs wedged themselves in between the rocks on the beach, hoping for a last big wave to wash over them.
A hermit crab wedged between the rocks on the beach during the St. John hermit crab migration in August 2013.
A hermit crab wedged between the rocks on the beach during the St. John hermit crab migration in August 2013.

Despite not seeing the migration at its height, it was still more than I ever see on the beach or elsewhere at one time. They are rather fascinating to watch and with less of them converging on the beach at once their individual appearance and actions were more fun to watch! Here is a short video of a hiding hermit crab – maybe he understands english?!

My friend Gail also made it out to watch the migration and we chatted as we watched one particular crab make the long trek to the shore. She told me that she used to collect shells and leave them outside here door at her house. After a while she noticed that the nice shells she collected were gone, replaced by some ragged shells instead.  Wondering what was going on, she kept her eye on the shells.  Then one day she discovered that hermit crabs were coming up and exchanging old shells for her nice larger shells and heading back on their merry way!  After that day she made a point of collecting shells and putting them out there for the hermit crabs, a crustacean “Help-Yourself Shelf”!! I can’t tell you how badly I want to do that now! Especially since I saw hermit crabs in some shells that I did not know they live in.   (So please consider leaving any large shells you find on St. John beaches on the beach for a crab to take as his new home. But bring your camera for a good photograph instead!)

Hermit crabs collecting along the rocky shore in St. John during their mass migration to the water to release their eggs.
Hermit crabs collecting along the rocky shore in St. John during their mass migration to the water to release their eggs.
A lone hermit crab, red and purple, hiding from my camera.
A lone hermit crab, red and purple, hiding from my camera.

And St. John resident Rafe Boulon wrote a short and interesting article on hermit crabs for the St. John Historical Society. You can link to the article here.   You can watch some other video I captured:

Bringing People Together: Flat tires, Mooie and Maho Tents!

Living on a small island creates some distinct challenges.

As a small but recent example, last week as I was leaving for Cruz Bay I saw my car’s back tire was completely flat.  With no time to do anything about it, I headed down the hill to the Coral Bay “crossroads” to hitch a ride to town.  Since I was going to work I was completely overdressed for the short walk in the island’s persistent humidity.  On the way I spoke to a neighbor who told me he had an air compressor at the house. Perfect! All I have to do is buy a tire patch kit.  Reaching the crossroads, I got a ride immediately in a nice air-conditioned car with a couple from the east end.  Ahhhh…  The next morning, with the help of a friend and the neighbor’s air compressor, the car was on the road again. 

On St. John there is no Triple A to call for help, no dealer where you drop off your car and take a loaner for the day, and a tow truck might cost a week’s pay.   There is no hospital but a clinic where the doctor is called out of bed to come in if there is an emergency after hours and weekends, Internet and power is sometimes simply not there, and cell phone service is not consistent. Throw in hurricanes and what you have is an island that loves its Happy Hour! And it also makes you aware of how you need the help of others and they need your help in return. The very act of thinking who you know and seeking them out for a favor makes you more aware of this.

This is a lengthy way to convey that on St. John when people want to accomplish something, they usually do it by working with each other, not as a single entity or by working against one another other.  Perhaps it is because we never know who we will be asking assistance from in the future, or maybe it is just the friendly attitude of many of the people who live here, yet either way, we can often find someone willing to help when it is needed.

Secondly, there is the history of the island that makes many people wary when someone arrives suddenly and intends to change things, or non-residents want to make changes without any alliances with the people who live here.  No matter how needed the idea or good the intention (even assuming the best), it may be received poorly.  A important example relates to the establishment of the national park on St. John.  A brief background goes something like this:  Rockefeller wanted to help create the national park on St. John.  As most books will tell you, he bought some land and donated it to the park along with others. But before that the US Department of the Interior had intended to condemn the privately held land on the island in order to expand the park holdings.  Senator (V.I. Legislature) Theovald E. Moorehead, “Mooie” as he was known on St. John, led the protest against this amendment and won!  The St. John and Cruz Bay you see when you get off the ferry today is credited to the efforts of “Mooie”! 

This series of events occurred in the late 1950’s when tourists were just starting to visit St. John.  I have yet to find it in any books that write about the history of St. John but everyone who lives her knows that history.  I spent some time searching the internet because, without a finding the story in the history books written about the island, I was beginning to think it was an “urban legend”.  However I found numerous references online to Mooie’s hard work in saving St. John and have provided two links that discuss the remarkable history here.

With an awareness of these two island themes, I want to share some photos a friend posted on Facebook recently.  This person got a closer look at the Maho tents, shared the images and I was given permission to share them here.  By posting these images I am not trying to point out any problems or call for any changes.  My belief is that the time for “saving” Maho was in the years before it was sold.  I am sharing what I know of a place that has been a large part of the island for decades.  And I know the people who visited and cherished their time at Maho are curious.  It does not actually answer anyone’s questions other than to know their current physical state.  And I am encouraged to see what appears to be a thoughtful dismantling that is not damaging the fragile hillside or making a wreck of reusable lumber, particularly since resources here are precious.

A10 as it looks now, screens and "Stanley cloth" are gone.
A10 as it looks now, screens and “Stanley cloth” are gone.
View from inside A10 in May of this year (2013).
View from inside A10 in May of this year (2013).

I do hope that the wood that served as the tent-cabin floors is reused/donated, whatever the case may be.  It is currently exposed since the roofs have been removed and will not fare as well exposed to the tropical sun, rain and leaves that will fall, accumulate and hold moisture. There is plenty of wood that needs to be disposed of but not those pieces.

Tents at the end of the the A-Section boardwalk.
Tents at the end of the the A-Section boardwalk.
B11 and B12: Double Vision
B11 and B12: Double Vision

It might be nice to hear from the current owner, especially if the activity on the land is something locals can support.  And there are a number of island organizations that have decades of experience dealing with a variety of potentially relevant issues – from material reuse, native plantings, sustainability, to tropical design and construction – and would be a valuable resource.  Which leads me back to my introduction; that this is a community where people more accustomed to helping their neighbors because we know that we need each other to thrive on an island of limited resources.  All of our lives become entwined here in one way or another. 

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends.  Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies…”   – John F. Kennedy

A B-section tent. Without anyone there the leaves are beginning to accumulate. Seems the games of 'Leaf Golf' our housekeeping crew used to play kept the boardwalks looking great!
A B-section tent. Without anyone there the leaves are beginning to accumulate. Seems the games of ‘Leaf Golf’ our housekeeping crew used to play kept the boardwalks looking great!
A view from the A-boardwalk taken about 12 years ago.
A view from the A-boardwalk taken about 12 years ago.
Former Maho tent overlooking Big Maho Bay.
Former Maho tent overlooking Big Maho Bay.

 Little Maho beach with tiny baby Maho tress popping up in the sand already.Little Maho beach with tiny baby Maho tress popping up in the sand already.