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Reef expert pleasantly surprised to find hurricane damage in Virgin Islands NP less than expected

Looking at the plants and trees in the Virgin Islands, it’s possible to get a sense of how nature can recover from two category 5 hurricanes. Right after Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6 and Hurricane Maria on Sept. 19, it seemed almost impossible that hillsides stripped of every leaf would ever be green again. Four months later, even the most devastated northwest-facing slopes are becoming lush and verdant once more.

But what’s going on in the world below the surface of the sea? What’s happened to the coral reefs, and to the fish and other sea creatures that were first pummeled by storm surge and waves, then inundated with massive amounts of rainwater, some of it carrying toxic runoff?


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