A recently published paper in the journal Tropical Conservation Science presents an environmental baseline of surface water nutrient conditions for lagoons and nearshore waters of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Researchers for the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science found that the lagoons on the island had higher levels of nutrients than water offshore. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, there were no differences in lagoon nutrient concentrations between the inhabited portion of the island and the uninhabited portion.
Additionally, differences between lagoons could be explained by lagoon depth and its proximity to the ocean. These findings suggest that the elevated nutrient concentrations in the lagoons are the natural state of the systems rather than human-induced pollution.
This study was part of a larger environmental assessment which examined the biological condition and contaminant stressors on the island. Baseline data such as these are critical for detecting changes in coastal ecosystems over time.