July 18, 2003 — A student and a staff member on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus have just spent five weeks in Guam studying coral reef management.
"The first day of diving was like being in a candy store," said Christy Loomis, geographic information specialist at UVI's Eastern Caribbean Center.
"I came out of the water on the first day dazed. They have so many colors," she said, quoted in a UVI release, noting the near-perfect visibility of Pacific waters.
What struck Emily Broderick, a UVI junior marine biology major, was that "despite the fact that Guam and the Virgin Islands are literally islands across the world from each other, we all share the same concerns and issues when it comes to marine management."
There is a critical need "for everyone to start working together towards real solutions," said Broderick, a UVI honor student and one of two undergraduates enrolled in the summer course, "Assessment and Management of Coral Reefs," at the University of Guam.
Taught by top scientists from the University of Guam, the University of Hawaii, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Florida, the graduate course is designed to explore techniques for coral reef monitoring given problems brought about by development in economies, technologies and populations.
Loomis said that the class, which included students from several Hawaiian islands and the Marshall Islands, experienced plenty of hands-on learning, with participants spending most of their time in the sea identifying coral, fish, pollution and environmental issues. The group surveyed coral beds around Guam.
Loomis and Broderick both said that they were awestruck by the numerous fish and coral species in the Pacific and that they plan to put their experience and exposure to use back at home. Loomis, who works at ECC's Conservation Data Center, hopes one day to have a managerial role in marine conservation. Broderick plans a career in the same field.
"An entirely new management and preservation system needs to be implemented, one that allows those who hold the ocean and its life sacred to be included in the processes," Broderick said.
Both women completed a marine ecology course at UVI which helped to prepare them for the course in Guam. Both had their tuition, airfare, room and board paid for by a University of Guam National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant. They were recommended for the program by Teresa Turner, professor of marine biology at UVI.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.