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The Virgin Islands Network of Educators (VINE) have launched a new awareness campaign called, “Leave Paradise In Its Place” to tackle the problems we face in protecting our delicate ecosystems. We all share responsibility for keeping the marine life healthy and safe.

It’s the Law

All native plants and animals of the USVI are protected under the Indigenous Species Act. It is illegal to take, catch, possess, injure, harass, or kill any native animal, or plant. All fish (unless harvested for food), coral, shells, and other marine life are protected. You will not be permitted to leave the territory with shells, corals or any other marine life in your possession.

Keep your Hands in Your Pockets

As reported by GoToStCroix,

“Did you know that in the past two years alone, more than 1 ton of sand, coral and shells removed from St. Croix beaches alone has been confiscated by customs agents at Henry E. Rohlsen airport as visitors want to bring a piece of paradise home with them.

“Our famed white sand beaches are beautiful places to relax and hang out, but they are also living organisms that play an important part in the balance of our ecosystem as a whole. Sandy beaches are made of coral and shelled organisms whose remains erode into sand particles, and shells serve as homes for hermit crabs and other creatures that create habitats out of shells.

“By leaving the treasure of the beach in their place, you will be making sure our beaches are always beautiful and can be enjoyed for years to come.”

Don’t Touch and Watch that Anchor

St Croix has some of the best snorkeling in the world, but it needs to be protected. Respect the coral reefs, which are integral to the underwater ecosystems and as shelter and food for myriad organisms.

If you are in a boat, check first before you drop anchor so you don’t despoil a vital reef environment.

GoToStCroix encourages citizen participation in the VI Network of Educators’ efforts. “it’s our responsibility as residents and lovers of the Virgin Islands to do our part as well. Hotels should be putting up educational information and as residents we should be sure to share our knowledge and respect for the environment with visitors and friends as well.

“There are several ways you can help or get involved:

*Take advantage of FREE Snorkeling trips!

*Pick up some postcards while in the Virgin Islands, and share them with others.

*If you are a parent, make sure you encourage your kids NOT to take that shell or piece of coral off the beach, but instead gently give it back to the environment by leaving it where you found it.

*If you are a teacher or educator yourself, you may want to take some posters back to the mainland with you to share with your students. The next time they go to the beach (wherever that is) we hope they remember to leave paradise in its place.”

Let’s all do our parts to protect St Croix’s natural resources for future generations.