Coral Reef Protection

Help Us Protect Our Reefs.  Avoid standing on or otherwise touching any coral or creature underwater, wear sun protective clothing and reef-safe sunscreen, and properly use moorings and access channels for beach entry.

Our beautiful coral reefs and marine ecology are fragile!  Friends programs support coral related research, programs to address threats like Lionfish and Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), create safeguards like anchorless moorings, teach our youth to be stewards of the future, and inform Park visitors what steps to take to avoid damaging coral including the use of reef safe sunscreen.

protect the reef

Reef Safe Sunscreen

Help us protect our coral reefs! Sunscreen with ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate is banned in the USVI because it is believed to contribute to coral bleaching and is harmful to marine life.  Find a full list of options here.


Anchorless Park

To protect coral reef and sea grass beds within the Park, the Friends worked with the National Park Service to install over 200 moorings.  Friends continues to contribute to the maintenance of the mooring system. Mooring locations can be found on the interactive boater awareness map.

CORE treatment 1

Fighting SCTLD

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) showed up in St. John waters in early 2020. Friends works collaboratively with a consortium that includes NOAA, Dept. of Planning and Natural Resources, USVI Coastal Zone Management Program, University of the Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Coral Bay Community Council, VI-EPSCoR, and CORE Foundation.


Lionfish Outreach

Friends supports the work of the Caribbean Oceanic Restoration and Education Foundation (C.O.R.E.) to help train first responders to spot, report and kill invasive lionfish in Virgin Islands National Park.


Coral Research

The coral reefs within Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument are monitored by biologists for deterioration due to bleaching, diseases, sedimentation, overfishing, and damage from boats. 


Safe Snorkeling

Have fun and enjoy our beautiful under-water world safely:

  • Don't touch anything on the bottom, especially orange or other brightly colored objects. There are many organisms on the reef that can cause a painful sting. Corals are also fragile creatures and can be significantly harmed if handled.
  • Avoid snorkeling in shallow water of the reef for your own safety.  A large wake could throw you onto corals harming you and damaging the reef.
  • Avoid walking in shallow rocky areas as sea urchins can inflict a nasty sting.