Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reef Restoration in San Juan Puerto Rico

The San Juan Bay Estuary Program finished placing artificial reef structures earlier this month as part of an environmental-restoration initiative. The $138,000 restoration project consists of placing cement reef-replication modules (known as Taíno reefs) to replace coral-reef habitat lost as a result of the 1994 grounding of the barge Morris J. Berman, which spilled approximately 925,000 gallons of oil into the waters and beaches of San Juan.

“The artificial reefs serve as a magnet to submarine life. Later, we will manually add natural coral reefs to further populate the area,” said San Juan Bay Estuary Program Executive Director Javier Laureano.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service and the local Department of Natural & Environmental Resources are the natural resource trustees in charge of restoring the balance of the injured ecosystem. In 2000, the parties reached an agreement to undertake three restoration projects, one of which was coral reefs.

A Taíno Reef in San Juan

“Tourists and citizens alike will be able to enjoy the coral reef landscape. We have set up an educative exhibition at Condado Beach. With a trail map and basic snorkeling equipment, visitors can enjoy the scenery in the Condado Lagoon. On the other hand, to take a look in Escambrón Beach, visitors need more experience as it is deeper and requires scuba-diving equipment,” Laureano said.

For more information, check out the Berman Restoration Projects Annual Report