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NOAA Ship Nancy Foster visits Old San Juan


On April 21, 2012 an open house was held for Puerto Rican coral reef ecosystem managers and academic researchers aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster which was stationed in San Juan at the U.S. Coast Guard Station. The tour began promptly at 1:00 p.m. and concluded somewhat after 3:00 p.m.

Tim Battista and Erik Ebert, both scientists aboard the vessel talked about the ship’s mission conducting bathymetric and fishery studies across the Caribbean and specifically regarding its efforts to study the areas to be included in the marine reserve in the shores close to Northeast Puerto Rico, known as the Northeast Grand Reserve.

In words of Mr. Jon Corsiglia, Communications & Outreach Specialist for the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program:
“Data collected to-date is directly promoting both environmental and economic sustainability in the region. Over the past decade, data from our mapping missions have provided the first description of key mesophotic (mid-water) coral reef ecosystems in U.S. Caribbean waters, contributed to the protection of queen conch and red hind in Abrir la Sierra, identified fish spawning sites in El Seco, and served as a guide for devising assessment and monitoring strategies in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, data were used to characterize the habitats in and around the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument and are fueling discussions about monument boundary adjustments. This year’s mission in the Northeast Great Reserve will serve to describe parts of the ecosystem that have never been mapped or studied in detail before. Ultimately, this body of work will paint a much clearer picture of the underwater habitats and the animals and plants inhabiting them.”

Mr. Canals spoke of combined federal and local government initiatives to restore the Rio Loco Watershed in Guánica and Mr. Figueroa spoke about conservation efforts regarding the keys of the Northeast Reserve. Both are employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.

Guests included members of the academic community from the University of Puerto Rico at the Marine Sciences Program of the Mayagüez Campus and the Environmental Sciences Program at the Cayey Campus. Also present were students from the Society for the Marine Environment of the University of Puerto Rico and members of the Coalition for the Northeast Ecological Corridor. Luis Villanueva, who is also member of the Coalition, attended representing the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship at the Río Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico.

1:00 – 1:15 p.m.
Speaker: Tim Battista

1:15 – 1:30 p.m.
Overview of mission and briefing on findings
Speaker: Tim Battista, NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

1:30 – 1:50 p.m.
Technology Advances: Fisheries Acoustics
Speaker Erik Ebert, NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

1:50 – 2:00 p.m.
Break w/ light refreshments

2:00 – 2:20 p.m.
Partnering to Protect Coral Reefs: Guánica, Puerto Rico
Speaker: Mr. Miguel Canals, PR Department of Natural and Environmental Resources

2:20 – 2:40 p.m.
Partnering to Protect Coral Reefs: NE Reserve
Speaker: Humberto Figueroa, PR Department of Natural and Environmental Resources

2:40 – 3:00 p.m.
Tour of Ship Bridge and Wrap up
Speaker: CRCP host and Tim Battista