St John, US Virgin Islands

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Fri 13 Mar 2009 13:53
18:21.93N 64:43.44W    Waterlemon Bay, St John
St John is one of the US Virgin Islands and is a nature reserve. After checking into Cruz Bay we headed up the coast to visit the many beautiful bays.  The parks services maintain this island very well and have placed mooring balls in all the bays to protect the coral and seagrasses from the horrors of poor anchoring. Payment for these balls is based on a trust system, where you put an envelope with the fee ($15) into a postbox on a raft in the bay, called an "Iron Ranger"  Imagine that working in South Africa!!
Yesterday we went for a paddle in the bay on our canoes. Passing another yacht, they called us to tell us about a dolphin close by. Quickly we got our snorkelling gear and then had the amazing experience of swimming with a wild dolphin.  This dolphin was calmly swimming around this yacht, taking notice of us, but showing no fear or concern.
Back at our boat I noticed something under the boat - and there were three large remora's who had taken residence under the keels. These amazing fish have "suckers" on the tops of their head so they can attach themselves to larger fish (usually sharks) and go alone for the ride, eating left-overs and cleaning the host. I wonder if they are hoping to catch a ride with us?
Remora                                                                                                    Water Melon Cay
Another amazing thing about this park, is that you are allowed to fish and take out lobsters, conch and whelks (with some seasonal and number limitations) In Francis Bay we saw a large number of conch, fairly close to the beach, but not quite big enough. However in Watermelon Bay, after a fairly long swim out to the point, I found my first giant Queen Conch. The official minimum size is 22.5cm, which I had worked out is slightly bigger than my foot (a perfectly mobile measuring device). I dived down and grabbed it, and then was faced with the interesting prospect of swimming all the way back while holding on to the big conch. Of course I made it back, proudly showing my catch to Mike and the camera. Hard to believe but we decided to put it back, as it is a really messy job to clean, and we still have some in the freezer which be bought down-island.
Our next stop is St Thomas