Buck Island Reef National Monument Celebrating 50th Birthday

Fifty is a pretty special number in terms of one's existence, so it's not surprising that the folks at Buck Island Reef National Monument are celebrating that number this year.

It was back in late 1961 -- December 28, 1961 -- that the 176-acre Caribbean island gained national monument status. In 2001 the size of the monument grew to more than 19,000 acres as its boundaries were enlarged to encompass submerged lands surrounding the island. To mark the occasion, the National Park Service this year is offering a monthly lecture series on topics involving the island.

Of course, not everyone can easily reach Buck Island, even if you do live in the U.S. Virgin Islands. With that understood, this lecture series is being offered at Christiansted National Historic Site on St. Croix.

The lectures are held the second Thursday of each month from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. in the Danish Guinea West India Company Warehouse/Slave Market Building. While it's too late to make plans for this month's lecture, here's the schedule and topics for the rest of the year:

* June 14: Lizards and Lignum Vitae Trees: Restoring Buck Islands Plants and Animals

* July 12: Hatchlings off the Beach: Results from Buck Island Reef Sea Turtle Program

* August 9: Buck Island's Fisheries: Are Fishes Recovering?

* September 13: The Legacy of the Concessions Program At Buck Isand Reef

* October 11: Ups and Downs of Buck Island's Coral Health

* November 8: Buck Island's Ancient Peoples--Seen and Unseen

* December 13: The Rare and Unknown Of Buck Island's Marine Life