CHARLOTTE AMALIE -- St. Thomas has a new water sport that is suitable for divers, non-divers and anyone who wants to keeps his head dry.

Sea Trek, launched Oct. 23 at Coral World Marine Park and Undersea Observatory, enables participants to literally get into the underwater world of the U.S. Virgin Islands without strapping on a dive tank and flippers.

Ruth Butler, Coral World spokesperson, said that participants wear a Sea Trek helmet that provides air for breathing and allows communications with the guide while keeping the head dry.

"The guide leads his group of seven or less along the underwater marked trail that is equipped with a handrail," Butler said.

"The trail is 12 to 30 feet below the water right near the Undersea Observatory."

Butler emphasized that the tour is open to anyone 8 years of age and older and requires no prior dive experience.

A headset within each helmet enables participants to hear the guide's comments as he points out coral reefs, tropical fish and aquatic life.

According to Butler, the 30-minute Sea Trekkin' tour is $68 per person (15% agent commission) and includes admission to the rest of the marine park's attractions.

Admission to the park without the underwater tour is $18 per person.

Coral World reopened in 1998 after extensive renovations following damage from hurricanes.

Facilities at the park include the Predator Tank, one of the world's largest coral reefs and an aquarium with more than 20 portholes providing close-up views of Caribbean sea life.

Several outdoor pools allow visitors to touch starfish, pet a baby shark, feed stingrays and view endangered sea turtles.

Daily feedings and talks take place at many of the exhibits.

The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For information, call (340) 775-1555 or visit the Web site at www.coralworldvi.com.

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