Ocean acidification, warming sea temperatures, and changes in patterns of disturbance have all had a significant impact on organisms in marine environments. To better understand these marine environments and to collect information on change, Hollins University students and faculty have monitored population and abundance patterns of marine biodiversity (fish, turtles, invertebrates, sea grass and coral) in the waters surrounding St. John, USVI every January since 2011.
Students participating in the Hollins January Term Caribbean Ecology course spend the preceding Fall Term learning to recognize and identify over 200 marine species as well as to explore marine ecology and Caribbean Ecology. Once they arrive on St. John, they spend 4-8 hours at 10 different reef sites collecting data on marine populations. In addition to these research projects, student explore the terrestrial ecosystems and push their own boundaries with night hikes under moonlight and snorkels in dark oceans.
The unfortunate landfall of two Category 5 Hurricanes (Irma and Maria) in September of 2017 has provided us with the opportunity to examine how these marine environments have responded to intense disturbance (see research tab).