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Contact: Thomas Kelley
St. John, USVI – Virgin Islands National Park will hold a “Buoy Blitz” March 14 – 27 to perform mooring buoy maintenance and repair. This skilled work will be accomplished by Virgin Islands National Park’s divers with assistance from NPS divers from Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Dry Tortugas National Park and Biscayne National Park. The divers will replace terminal heads and line systems to provide safe moorings for boats. These moorings help visitors secure boats and enjoy park recreational activities at the most popular places, while protecting reefs from anchor damage.
Beginning March 14, two teams of divers will work simultaneously to complete the mooring replacements. Working from approximately 9:00 am – 3:30 pm daily, they will begin at Scott Bay, replacing the line systems and reinstalling missing buoys. Dive teams will then focus on bays with the largest number of moorings, such as Maho, Caneel, Francis, Hawksnest and Leinster, one bay at a time. Work on the park’s 217 mooring buoys is scheduled to be completed by March 27 with work at the south shore occurring last.
Vessels moored to buoys scheduled for work are expected to relocate temporarily when directed so that work may proceed in a safe and efficient manner. The mariner may ‘stand off’ during the repairs then return to the same mooring once work is completed. Park Dive Officer and Project Leader Devon Tyson estimates that each mooring system will take approximately 30-45 minutes for the team to replace.
Volunteers-In-Park Bay Hosts will help facilitate the notification and temporary relocation of boats while individual mooring systems are replaced.
Tyson estimates about five miles (26,400 feet) of line will have been replaced; requiring over 1,000 eye splices to join the components together. Nearly 450 dives will be logged by the two dive teams.
Mooring buoys help preserve the fragile coral reef ecosystem of the park by preventing anchors, ropes and chains from striking and damaging coral. They also provide a convenient way to secure boats. Mooring buoys are located at popular reefs in the park. For mooring buoy locations, please see the following link https://www.nps.gov/viis/planyourvisit/virgin-islands-marine-visitor-use-information.htm
Virgin Islands National Park is grateful for the assistance of the other park units. Recent hurricanes highlighted the need for a highly skilled national dive maintenance team. As part of the national dive team, Virgin Islands National Park divers have provided support at Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks in Florida in 2018. This Buoy Blitz offers an opportunity for cross-training for the various dive teams and is the first blitz held at Virgin Islands National Park since Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
Last updated: March 10, 2021