Coral Reefs St. John USVI

Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth and Saint John is home to so many captivating reefs as they all differ depending upon location and hurricane storm damage.  The Coral Reefs provide valuable resources for marine life, protect our coastlines from storms and erosion, and support the snorkeling/diving tourism industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Over the past couple of years, the U.S. Virgin Islands government legislature has passed a Reef-Safe Sunscreen law to ban sunscreen products containing harmful ingredients which damage our coral reefs.  Hopefully, this will have a monumental effect on the health of our reefs.

Coral is a small animal that lives in warm water and attaches itself to rocks, with some types building a hard skeleton. More than 25% of all ocean animals need coral reefs to survive.  Corals can form into three different structures:  fringing reefs close to the shore, barrier reefs alongside the shore and separated by deep water, and an atoll reef circling a body of water.

With around 400 species of reef fish living on our coral reefs, you will never get bored while snorkeling or diving.  Below are the four main categories of coral you while exploring the underwater landscape of Saint John.

HYDROCORALS:

  • Fire Corals

 

BEWARE OF FIRE CORAL.  Not only are they not a true coral, but they have stinging polyps. Their smooth appearance is because they do have coral polyp cups like real corals do.  They sting their prey to paralyze them.

 

STONY CORALS (HARD):

  • Elkhorn Corals
  • Staghorn Corals
  • Finger Corals
  • Pillar Corals
  • Star Corals
  • Golfball Coral
  • Massive Starlet Coral
  • Brain Corals
  • Rose Coral
  • Mustard Hill Coral
  • Lettuce Corals
  • Yellow Pencil Coral

OCTOCORALS (SOFT):

  • Corky Sea Finger
  • Encrusting Gorgonian
  • Black Sea Rod
  • Yellow Sea Whip
  • Sea Rods
  • Sea Fans

 

CUP AND TUBE CORAL:

  • Orange Cup
  • Hidden Cup
  • Speckled Cup
  • Dwarf Cup
  • Smooth Flower
  • Tube Coral
  • Star Coral

HELP SUPPORT OUR CORAL REEFS!

Reef Response -- USVI
Virgin Islands Conservation Society
Friends of the National Park
MAP OF ST. JOHN USVI