Research Quantifies Chemical Contaminants in Southwest Puerto Rico to Enhance Management of Coral Reefs
NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science research presented in an article in the March 2008 issue of Marine Pollution Bulletin is part of a larger Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment effort to link chemical contamination with coral condition, in order to help resource managers preserve and restore these valuable ecosystems. The article, “Chemical contamination in southwest Puerto Rico: An assessment of organic contaminants in nearshore sediments,” presents the results of a study which indicated somewhat elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, (typically associated with the use and combustion of fossil fuels) adjacent to coral reefs and near the town of La Parguera, with even higher concentrations in Guanica Bay at the eastern end of the study area. Within Guanica Bay, concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and DDT in the sediments were at toxicologically relevant levels, and appear related to past industrial and agricultural activity in the watershed. Additional analyses are currently being carried out to quantify contaminants in coral tissues.