Jan. 25, 2006 – The public is invited to tour the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vessel Bold when it's in the territory in early February to conduct a survey of the ocean floor off St. John.
The vessel will visit St. Thomas at Crown Bay Feb. 6 and St. Croix's Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted Feb. 8. One-hour tours for the public will be given at both locations from 3 to 5 p.m.
"EPA employees will explain what goes on at each location," Keshema Abramsen, life scientist at the EPA's St. Thomas office, said Tuesday.
She said guides will escort those attending. Groups will be limited to 15 people per tour. Abramsen said participants should wear rubber-soled shoes.
A converted U.S. Navy vessel, the 224-foot Bold is EPA's research flagship. It can house up to 18 scientists and 19 crew members and remain at sea for weeks.
The vessel is equipped with state-of-the-art sampling, mapping and analysis equipment, including side scan sonar, underwater video, water sampling instruments, and sediment sampling devices. All are used in a wide variety of monitoring activities.
"This is a great opportunity for the public to get a firsthand look at how we protect the ocean and coastal waters," EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said in a news release.
The Bold will conduct its surveys off St. John's south side from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7. Crews will work 24 hours a day.
The purpose is to map the sea bottom in order to determine the type, location and size of habitats that support fish species important to both recreational and commercial uses.
The Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Fish and Wildlife Division recommends that commercial fishermen remove their traps from the area to make sure their trap trot lines and buoy lines do not become entangled in the side scan sonar gear.
For more information on the vessel's scanning boundaries, call Roger Uwate, Fish and Wildlife's fisheries chief, at 775-6762.
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