Kids hike at Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve, St. Croix
U.S. Virgin Islands | Kids hike along trails at Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve in St. Croix © Marjo Aho

Places We Protect

Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Providing a Home for Endangered Sea Turtles

A pristine haven of marine and coastal beauty, Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve is home to hundreds of species, including endangered sea turtles in need of safe shores to nest on and give their populations a fighting chance at survival. We work hard to protect this special place and all the treasures like it found throughout the Caribbean, to ensure they are healthy and resilient for tomorrow's generations.

Established by The Nature Conservancy is 1999, Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve consists of 300 acres of rolling hills skirted by white sand beaches, crystal waters and vibrant coral reefs. It is an unspoiled haven and one of the greatest treasures of the Virgin Islands. Once slated for residential development, the preserve is adjacent to the East End Marine Park and the combined areas protect the entire eastern end of St. Croix, including key reef systems that help safeguard the shoreline.

 

A Home for Hundreds of Species

Coral reefs in these bays are home to at least 400 species of fish, including parrotfish, blue tangs, four-eyed butterfly fish and sergeant majors. Elkhorn, staghorn and brain corals, starfish, conch and a plethora of other marine species can be found in the thriving reefs and sea grass beds.

The largest nesting populations of green and hawksbill turtles on St. Croix are found on the beaches of Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve. TNC's sea turtle protection and monitoring initiative, operating since 2001, ensures that these endangered turtles can nest on the shores and their young can hatch safely without facing the threats that have devastated their populations.

 

Helping Endangered Sea Turtles Recover

In the early 1990s, it was determined through a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey that nearly one-third of all sea turtle nests on these beaches were lost due to various threats, including poachers. Commercial development also threatens nesting sites. Tourists' use of beaches, especially at night, causes female turtles to abort nesting attempts or lose egg clutches. In addition, newly hatched turtles use light reflected off the ocean to find their way to the water and become disoriented by artificial light from streetlights and beachfront properties.

After TNC established the preserve and launched its sea turtle protection and monitoring initiative, eggs from less than 1 percent of nests were poached. The number of green sea turtle nesting females rose from about eight to nearly 300 by removing threats and allowing the population to recover. TNC continues to vigilantly protect and monitor turtle populations each year from July to December during nesting season. We also help educate local communities and tourists about turtle behavior and how to avoid disturbing nesting sites.

By guarding nesting sites and raising awareness, we work to ensure that future generations of turtles have a chance for survival.