Reef Jam Crowd Feasts on Music, Food, and Ecology

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Mary Luna
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Reef Jam Crowd Feasts on Music, Food, and Ecology

Postby Mary Luna » Fri May 30, 2008 9:58 am

Reef Jam Crowd Feasts on Music, Food, and Ecology
Monday, May 26th 2008
Source: The Virgin Islands Daily News ... d=17624889

ST. CROIX - Crowds of beach lovers on Sunday donned their bathing suits and braved the scorching heat to support the Reef Jam, an event organizers hope will give them the resources they need to begin educating adults and children about how to protect the environment they love to play in.

Reef Jam kicked off at about 1 p.m. at Rainbow Beach in Frederiksted, drawing a large crowd that enjoyed the toe-tapping quelbe music of the Jamsie and the All Stars and the soothing sounds of Kurt Schindler while vendors kept the grills fired up with lots of food.

In the between the entertainment, the guest speakers, ecologist Olasee Davis, St. Croix Central High School science teacher Jesus Espinosa, and Scuba instructor Michelle Pugh, spoke on the importance of preserving the reef and about ongoing programs to teach the Virgin Islands youth about marine life.

On the beach, children learned more about the ocean, dissected a fish and colored pictures of the sea animals. They also learned some tips that will help preserve and protect coral reefs: Do not bring reusable grocery bags to the beach; do not litter or drive onto the beach; dispose of hazardous waste properly; and avoid depleting the ocean of grouper, snapper, shark, parrotfish and doctor - choose tuna, wahoo, mahi and tilapia.

The event was organized by the 2008 International Year of the Reef-St. Croix Committee, which comprises Karlyn Langjahr of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Environmental Protection Division; Emily Tyner of the University of the Virgin Islands' Marine Advisory Service; and Kim Ishida of the Ocean Conservancy. Volunteer Melanie Feltmate of the V.I. Nature Conservancy also plays a key role.

Their aim is to raise the community's awareness about how their behavior on land and at the beach affects the sensitive coral reefs that surround the island.

"The main reason we're doing this is to educate the community and raise awareness about coral reefs," Tyner said.

Tyner said the proceeds will pay for material that will used in the classrooms at school islandwide and other outreach efforts. In particular, the committee wants to offer snorkel clinics to high schools.

Reef Jam was sponsored by HOVENSA, Kurt Schindler, Presidente, Miller Brewing Co., Cruzan Rum, the V.I. Resource and Conservation Development, Seaborne Aviation and Paradise 93.5 FM.

Organizers have said they also want to motivate people to take this to the conservation level by joining organizations and talking to legislators.

International Year of the Reef is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of the coral reefs and threats to their sustainability. The St. Croix committee and others like it worldwide are dedicating time this year to encouraging people to take action to protect reefs.

In 1997, more than 225 organizations in 50 countries across the globe recognized the need to protect coral reefs and that year created the first International Year of the Reef to increase awareness of coral reefs, and to support conservation, research and management efforts.

Threats and loss of coral reefs and associated ecosystems, such as mangroves and sea grasses, had been increasing.

More than a decade later, organizations worldwide say coral reefs are still being threatened and the need to increase awareness, conservation and management of coral reefs continues to be urgent. The International Coral Reef Initiative designated 2008 International Year of the Reef.

- Contact Christine Lett at 774-8772 ext. 456 or e-mail

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