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Reef Check

BVI Marine Awareness Guide  –  According to principal author Shannon Gore, the idea for BVI Marine Awareness Guide originally came about because she overheard a charter captain explaining about anchoring. “Horrified that he actually told his guests to find a reef to drop the anchor on,” she writes, “I decided that something should be written for all those seasoned sailors who may not know much about marine life.”

  Opening pages of the publication. Photo courtesy of Jim Scheiner.

At a recent meeting of the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK), I learned that there have been other instances when megayachts anchored on reefs, resulting in major damage. Apparently, one particular boat—a research vessel, no less—had sophisticated equipment that showed they were anchoring on “rocks.” They later were horrified when ARK showed them the destruction their boat had caused to the corals.

The key word in the title of BVI Marine Awareness Guide is awareness. In the BVI, you don’t anchor on rocks because it is most likely reef. Nor do you anchor in seagrass meadows because they are home to juvenile reef fish and hundreds of invertebrates, according to Marine Awareness Guide. Mangrove stands and coral reefs are well known as being crucial parts of the marine ecosystem, but seagrass meadows are just as vital, and the Marine Awareness Guide hopes to educate visitors and residents about the importance of all marine habitats.

In addition to a chapter on habitats, BVI Marine Awareness Guide features sections on Species, Conservation, Safety, Dangers and Laws. Each chapter is sponsored by a local business with an interest in protecting the undersea world. Chapter sponsors include Victor International Corporation—parent company of Oil Nut Bay and Biras Creek Resort; Nanny Cay Resort and Marina; Mosaka Ventures; The Moorings and Sunsail; CCT Global Communications; and the youth programs of Action Quest, Sail Caribbean and Sea Trek. The publication was further supported by The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, Horizon Yacht Charters, Roadtown Wholesale, Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Sotheby’s International Realty. Finding support, according to sponsorship director Owen Waters, was not a difficult task, as he has recently seen what he calls “a crying out for the synergy between commerce and conservation…with an intention to secure what is in jeopardy.”

The stunning cover photo. Photo courtesy of Jim Scheiner.

While the sponsors generously gave of their funds to support the printing of the Guide, BVI-based photographers generously donated their art. The work of Jim Scheiner from Rainbow Visions Photography graces most pages of the Guide, including the stunning cover shot. Other photographers whose images fill the publication are Wayne Atkinson, Trish Baily, Clare Cottreau, Shannon Gore, Paul Hubbard, Katherine Huskey, Armando Jenik, Randy Keil, Laura Magruder, Walker Mangum, George and Luana Marler, Antonio Mignucci-Giannoni, Nancy Pascoe, Beverly Ruebeck, Gemma Salaman and Chris Syms. Designer on the project, Nick Cunha, says, “The design was inspired by the photography” and cites the cover as one place where he “had the freedom of taking elements from the graphic side and photographic side and combining them together.”  He adds that “one of the most difficult parts of this job was picking from 500 photos donated. The photography was so captivating, I often caught myself appreciating photos rather than analyzing them for use. Even though the book is a solid 70 pages, I was out of space before I knew it.”

With everyone donating so much, the Guide can remain a free publication. Shannon writes on the fifth page, “Much like the marine life, coral reefs and waters that surround these pristine islands, this publication is NOT for sale.” Shannon wants the information to be spread throughout the BVI. BVI Marine Awareness Guide is proudly distributed in the BVI for free, from June 2010. An online version is available at
www.bvimarineawareness.com.

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