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National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Sampling in Puerto Rico

Published on: 07/25/2023
Primary Contact(s): kimberly.edwards@noaa.gov

NOAA divers surfacing just offshore of Old San Juan. All diving operations were performed aboard the charter vessel Simply Caught 2, captained by Frank Askew.

NOAA scientists are conducting surveys of the status of coral reef communities along the north coast of Puerto Rico July 19-24 as part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP). The islands of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are sampled together biennially within NCRMP. Researchers completed the St. Croix, USVI sampling in June, and the St. Thomas and St. John sampling will start in early August.

During this particular mission along the north coast of Puerto Rico, NOAA divers monitored the stretch of coral reef communities from Aguadilla to San Juan, sampling a total of 26 sites. Abundance and size information on all the fish and coral species at our sample sites in the region are recorded. The north coast of Puerto Rico can be a challenging region to sample, with high currents and high winds along the northern coastline leading to rough seas and swell.

NCRMP, part of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, delivers high‐quality data, products, and tools to the coral reef conservation community and provides large-scale sampling to territories where resources are limited to sample at a regional scale. Data are used by local managers in the Caribbean to inform fish stock assessments, management decisions, and coral disease mitigation. Universities often use the data to support restoration and coastal protection projects as well.

Read the most recent National Coral Reef Status Report here, and learn more about this ongoing project here.

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