Monday, January 16, 2017

Sea Turtles: Which one did I see?

There are 7 species of sea turtles found in the world today. Three species can be found in the waters surrounding the Virgin Islands. Chances are when you are snorkeling around St. John, you are seeing a green turtle or a hawksbill sea turtle. St. Croix is lucky to be home to these two species as well as the leatherback turtle. By being able to identify different types of sea turtles I hope that we will develop a deeper connection to them. Sea turtles are in desperate need of our help for their survival. Follow three simple steps to reduce your impact on the turtles, 1.) say no to single use plastic bags, 2.) say no to plastic straws and 3.) use reefsafe sunscreen.
Sea Turtles of the US Virgin Islands poster found at

Sea Turtle identification is fairly simple once you know what to look for. A lot of times the location of the turtle is enough to tell you which turtle you are looking at. Green turtles and hawksbill look very similar but are different in some distinct ways. Green turtles are the vegetarians among sea turtles so they are found where there is sea grass. Hawksbill feed on sea anemoni. A hawksbill turtle has a mouth shaped almost like the beak of a hawk hence the name hawksbill. The green turtle's mouth is flat. The shells are a little different although easily mistaken for one another. The shell of a green turtle and hawksbill are made up of shell plates called shutes. On a hawksbill turtle these scutes overlap while green turtles do not. Leatherback turtles do not have scutes. Their shell is soft or leathery. They are absolutely enormous so when you see one you will know it! Here is link to a wonderful diagram that can be very helpful.

Here is a link to some interesting data about   Sea Turtle Nesting in the US Virgin Islands. I hope that
this is helpful to everyone that has been or plans to go snorkeling in the Virgin Islands. Let me know what you think and as always love the turtles. In this fast paced world we live in take some time to be like them and slow down.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Victory for Sea Turtles! | The US Virgin Islands Banned Plastic Bags

The Virgin Islands is taking a stand for the oceans! On January 1st of 2017 a new law went into effect banning single use plastic bags in the US Virgin Islands. These plastic bags are a huge problem for our oceans and our sealife. Sea Turtles mistake plastic bags for jelly fish (a vital part of their diet). Here is an article about the staggering amount of plastic in the ocean.  I have spent many years of my life almost completely plastic free and would like to share some of my favorite substitutions for disposable plastics.

Reusable tote bags are a must! Choose one that folds up so you can carry it in your purse.
Reusable tote bags are everywhere these days but sometimes they are cheaply made and fall apart so easily that they almost defeat the purpose of something reusable. Also they are easy to forget. I prefer a reusable bag that folds up and fits in my purse. That way I always have it with me. Run Run Run is a great brand that offers reusable bags made out of recycled plastic bags. They are durable and very strong. I am super rough with all of my totes and they really hold up. Run Run Run bags also fold up and snap. This is a great feature for making them easy to remember for shopping. I also really love an organic cotton tote. Always durable, easy to clean and if they end up in the landfill they are completely bio degradeable.

Living free of disposable plastics is easy with the right products!
Beyond single use plastic bags there are several other single use plastics we can reduce from our lives. Zip lock bags are so convenient! Tupperware in a more durable reusable plastic or glass is a great option for storage in your refrigerator but when packing your lunch they can be bulky. Blue Avocado brand has great reusable ziplock bags that are great for storing and traveling with snacks and sandwiches. I really never thought I would find a substitute for a ziplock but I did and they are great!

Reusable water bottles are something we all use these days and hopefully they are helping to curb our habit for buying drinks in plastic bottles. S'well water bottles are great and then there is my favorite water bottle by Life Factory! I just love drinking out of glass because there is no danger of any BPA's leaching into your drinking water. I also like Life Factory's storage containers for food.

Produce bags are a single use plastic bag that we don't really think of. When you buy as many fresh veggies as I do and then you try to go plastic free you quickly realize that you need an alternative for produce bags. Flip & Tumble makes great produce bags! They are light and transparent and very close to using the single use bags. Flip & Tumble also makes great and stylish reusable totes.

Plastic straws are terrible for our oceans. They litter our beaches and are dangerous to sea life. Since we usually only use straws when we eat out the best thing to do is to just opt out.  Make sure you tell your server at restaurants that you DO NOT want a plastic straw. Make it a habit, and recommend doing the same to your friends. If you absolutely love drinking from a straw there are alternatives. I love using my stainless steal straw. Buy one here! They also have glass straws. Check out all these options at Eco Straw.

I will be updating this list whenever I find new products that I feel would be useful to you. I would also love to hear about your favorite disposable plastic alternatives! Coffee cups, water bottles, tote bags, all suggestions are welcome. We have alot of work to do to keep wildife free of the harmful effects of  plastic.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reefsafe Sunscreen: What is it?

People ask me about reefsafe sunscreen all the time and I am more than happy to answer their questions. I would like to offer some more extensive resources here for those of you who want more information on the subject. Wearing reefsafe sunscreen is one of those extremely important things you can do to curb your impact on the wildlife of our planet. When we visit the Caribbean one of the first things we want to do is get our snorkel gear on and jump in the water! Show some love for all that beauty, wear reefsafe sunscreen!

Wear reefsafe sunscreen when you're snorkeling on your next vacation.
Four common sunscreen ingredients have been found to kill or bleach coral at extremely low concentrations (as low as one drop in 6.5 Olympic sized swimming pools). This means that the conventional sunscreens many people are wearing are extremely TOXIC to the LIVING coral.

  • Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3) - Sunscreen ingredient that disrupts coral reproduction, causes coral bleaching, and damages coral DNA. Oxybenzone is found in over 3500 sunscreen products worldwide.

  • Butylparaben - Preservative ingredient shown to cause coral bleaching.

  • Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) - Sunscreen ingredient shown to cause coral bleaching.

  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC) - Sunscreen ingredient shown to cause coral bleaching. Allowed in Europe and Canada, not in USA or Japan. 
My favorite reefsafe sunscreen is Badger. They are a fabulous company that really cares about the environment and offers alot of information on the topic. Check out their page here. There are other brands on the market so choose one that works the best for you. Anything that is biodegradable is ok. Zinc based sunscreens are the best!

A great article in the Washington Post in 2015 will really help you understand how very seriously terrible Oxybenzone is. Check it out! Here is a link to the study. Oxybenzone is really nasty stuff that you probably don't want on your skin anyways. Coral reefs are vital to the life of the oceans and are home to 25% of the ocean's marine life! They are amazing living creatures. You will find some amazing information on coral at

If you enjoy snorkeling you should really pay attention to this. Change starts with you! I always remind myself that just because everyone else on the beach is spraying themselves with chemicals doesn't mean that I should get discouraged and give up! We need to remember to try to make our impact on the environment as small as possible. Our places we call paradise are being jeopardized and it is up to us to show our gratitude.

Paradise in the Caribbean sun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Love the Sea Turtles, save our oceans

Sea Turtles are amazing creatures. We are blessed to still beable to see these prehistoric creatures swimming in our waters. This post will help you find information on sea turtle conservation and what you can do to ensure their survival. The following are a few suggestions of things you can do without even donating money or time.

Hibiscus Jazz offers some fabulous totes that can be reused over and over again!
1.) Say no to single use plastic bags. Sure you have to remember your reusable bags but make it a habit. I keep one rolled up in my purse and one in my car. When plastic escapes our landfills and ends up in the ocean it does irreparable damage to our reefs and sea life. Turtles ingest them because they are easily mistaken for jelly fish, a staple of many sea turtles' diets. They smother the coral just like they can suffocate any other living creature. When you REFUSE plastic you are helping to save our oceans and the life within it. You are making the world a better place! Visit The Plastic Coalition to learn more about how you can reduce your use of plastic!

Learn more about the harmful effects of sunscreens here
2.) Only use reef safe sunscreen when you are swimming in the ocean. Conventional sunscreens are full of nasty ingredients that have been found to contribute to the bleaching of our coral reefs. Anything that is bleaching coral can't be good for the overall health of the ocean and turtle habitats. Our skin is our largest organ so you probably don't want that stuff on you either. I know, I know those zinc based sunscreens can leave a little more white on your skin than you like but it's really a small price to pay for the life of the coral and sea turtles. When I see people covering themselves in spray cans full of sunscreen and then jumping in the water to snorkel I cringe. Just think of all of those chemicals soaking into the reef. Multiply that by all the visitors to coral reefs every year. Really the best way to keep the sun off of you when you are snorkeling is by wearing a rash guard or long sleeve shirt.

Say No to Plastic Straws!
3.) Refuse plastic straws. We really need to be more aware of this epidemic. As a beach loving community we need to speak up about this. Plastic straws litter our beaches and end up in the ocean where sea life ingests them. Tell your server when you sit down at your table that you do not want a straw and tell them why! They are harmful to the ocean. Encourage your friends to do the same.

Be the change you want to see in the world! Sure you might have to keep reminding yourself to do these things but it is totally worth it. When I see a sea turtle in the wild and feel that joy that only a majestic creature like that can give me, I think it's the least I can do for them! Bring your reusable bags to the store, sport that white streaked face and drink your cocktails straight out of the glass! Be a champion for sea turtles. Be compassionate and love nature!