Mangrove Restoration Project

Mangrove Restoration Project Logo

The Mangrove Restoration Project is a citizen science-rooted effort to 1) Aid in the restoration of mangrove forests, 2) Improve growth and survival rates of transplanted mangroves, and 3) Collect and utilize scientific data to aid in the protection of this important natural resource. Started back in 2015, this project has grown immensely and is supported by research faculty and staff within the Center for Marine and Environmental Studies as well as the Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
See how you can get involved to support our restoration efforts!


Mangrove SPY USVI

The Mangrove SPY USVI project is a Citizen Science project that relies on community support to better understand what types of animals inhaibt our mangrove sites. This measure of biodiversity is one metric that our team uses to get a snapshot of our ecosystem's health.
Schoolmaster snapper by prop roots
Watch any of the video clips and be sure to pay attention to the different types of animals you see in the video. You don't have to be an expert on animal identification; be sure to review our Field Guide below to familiarize yourself with commonly found fish at these sites.
Students assessing the health of planted red mangroves.
Either during or after the video, open our Mangrove SPY USVI animal tracker to document your findings. Every observation of a type of fish you saw during the video(s) is helpful to our team towards better understanding how healthy our mangrove ecosytems are.


Our team analyzes the data you submit to better understand the biodiversity of animals using our mangrove sites. This approach helps us to get a snapshot of an ecosystem's health which establishes benchmarks for success.

Mangrove SPY USVI Field Guide 

Use this fieldguide to assist you in learning more about the types of fish found in our mangrove sites as well as distinguishing features of each that will help you to make accurate identifications. 

 Juvenile barracuda

Barracuda are a slender bodied, silver-colored fish that have sharp teeth, often giving them a very menacing appearance. As juveniles (babies), they have brown spots on their body which they lose as they mature. They can often be seen by themselves in the background waiting for unsuspecting prey to swim by. 

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Damselffish have an oval-shaped body and are considered to be somewhat territorial; defending their patches of algae. In the USVI, we have several species of damselfsh which do change colors as they mature; some species are mostly brown in color whereas some have a bi-color appearance like the one shown in the image.

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French grunt fish

French grunts are a common fish found in Caribbean waters that are earn their name from the iconin grunting noise they make. Juvenile or baby french grunts have several dark stripes that run across the lenth of their body; as they mature, they lose these stripes and develop a more pronounced yellow color with some blue speckles. 

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 Goby fish

Gobies are slendered bodied fish that are often found resting on the sea floor or on the surfaces of rocks. They may sometimes have the appearance as though they are walking on the sea floor with the use of their fins.

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Mojarra are silver bodied fish typically found on reefs, seagrasses, and areas with mangroves. These also have several faint colored bars along the sides of their body. 

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Mullet (fish)

There are many different species of mullet, some found in both fresh and salt water environments. Mullet seen in our mangrove sites are typically silver in color and usually tend to form small schools in the shallow water where they reside.

Checkered pufferfish

Checkered pufferfish are often seen in segrass beds as well as in areas with mangroves. A checkered pattern can be seen on their dorsal (top) surface. These fish may be solitary or in a pair and feed primarily on snails and other shelled marine animals which they can pry open with their beak. 

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Schoolmaster snapper

Schoolmaster snapper have a pointed snout and large mouths. In their juvenile phase, they have several vertical colored bars that run the length of their body; these bars usually disappear as they mature.

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Sergeant Major fish Sergeant majors are a species of damselfish which have a signature oval-shaped body with a yellow highlight on their upper body with sveral black vertical bars, extending from mid-body to the length of its tail. They can often be seen in groups 

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School of baitfish Baitfish are commonly found in our Caribbean waters and are often seen in large schools. These small fish are a food source by larger predators and are caught by fishers as bait to catch larger fish.




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