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1 . Puerto Rico     Puerto Rico
Coral reefs are discontinuous around the main island of Puerto Rico, and most abundant along the east, south and west coasts. The offshore islands are more continuously fringed by reefs. Coral cover is highly varied, and the island includes some of the best developed and most diverse coral reefs in the US Caribbean territories. As elsewhere, coral disease has had a significant impact on the total coral cover. The Diadema die-off was also considerable here, but numbers are now reported to be increasing. Coral bleaching in the late 1980s caused significant mortality, and a major bleaching event was also observed in 1998, though little associated mortality appears to have occurred.

Construction and tourism were the leading sectors in the economy in 1998, and this has had considerable impacts on the reefs. Clearance of over 75 percent of Puerto Rico’s mangroves, combined with dredging, agricultural runoff, pollution from untreated sewage, and sedimentation from forest clearance have had a considerable impact on most coastal reefs. Although there are no big commercial fisheries, smallscale fisheries are significant, with a total catch of over 1 600 tons in 1996. Overfishing of large predators, parrotfishes and spiny lobsters is widely reported. Oil spills have further impacted reefs in some areas.

Efforts to control some of the more damaging activities and protect some of the reefs from further decline are now underway. A number of marine protected areas have been designated, together with seasonal fishery on some spawning aggregations. New legislation is being developed to begin to address some of the pollution problems of the area.
Source: Spalding, M.D., C. Ravilious and E.P. Green , 2001 , World Atlas of Coral Reefs . Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press,Berkeley,USA.421p. (See Document)

2 . Puerto Rico     Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, is located in the north central Caribbean, between the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to the east and the Dominican Republic to the west (Figure 5.1). Puerto Rico is an archipelago comprised of the main island; the oceanic islands of Mona, Monito, and Desecheo in the Mona Passage; Caja de Muertos Island on the south coast; Vieques Island; Culebra Island; and a series of smaller islets or cays known as the "Cordillera de Fajardo." The total area of the Puertorrican archipelago is 8,929,468 km2..
The geological, climatological, and oceanographic features that affect growth and development of coral reefs vary markedly among insular shelf segments (García-Sais et al., 2003). The north and northwest coasts are narrow (<3 km) and shallow communities are subject to strong wave action during winter as large swells from the north Atlantic reach the Caribbean Antilles. The north and west coasts also receive substantial sediment and nutrient loading from the discharge of the largest rivers of Puerto Rico. Sand dunes are abundant along the north coast, some of which are now submerged eolianites. Others fringe the coastline, forming rocky beaches with rich intertidal communities. The northeast coast has a wider shelf, partially protected from wave action by a chain of emergent rock reefs (Cordillera de Fajardo) aligned east-west between the main island and the island of Culebra. The northeast coast is upstream from the discharge of large rivers, resulting in more appropriate conditions of light penetration for coral reef development. The east coast between Fajardo and Vieques is characterized by extensive sand deposits that provide unfavorable substrates for coral growth. However, scattered rock formations within this shelf section have been colonized by corals.
The south coast is an environment of relatively low wave energy and the insular shelf is generally wider than the north coast. Rivers with smaller drainage basins discharge on the southeast coast and only small creeks discharge on the southwest coast, which has been classified as a semi-arid forest. The south coast also features a series of embayments and submarine canyons (Acevedo and Morelock, 1988). Small mangrove islets fringe the south coast and many of these provide hard substrate for coral development. The shelf-edge drops off at about 20 m with an abrupt, steep (almost vertical) slope in many sections. At the top of the shelfedge lies a submerged coral reef which gives protection to other reefs, seagrass and mangrove systems of the inner shelf (Morelock et al., 1977).
The southwest coast is relatively wide and dry, with many emergent and submerged coral reefs that provide adequate conditions for development of seagrass beds and fringing mangroves. Toward the central west coast lies Mayaguez Bay, one of the largest estuarine systems of the island and partially influenced by wave action from North Atlantic swells during winter. Coral reefs off Mayaguez Bay show a marked trend of deterioration toward the coastline, but the shelf-edge reef systems are in good condition. Farther north along the west coast is Rincón and coral reef systems are established throughout the relatively narrow shelf off Tres Palmas, including an elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) biotope fringing the coastline that is probably the largest remaining stand in Puerto Rico. A series of patch reefs are distributed throughout the Rincón mid-shelf and there is a “spur-and-groove” coral reef formation at the shelf-edge. Off the northeast coast of Aguadilla, several small marginal coral reef systems are associated with rock outcrops at depths between 15-25 m. These reefs are strongly affected by intermittent river discharge (Culebrinas River) and wave action. East of Aguadilla, the influence of large river plumes, a prominent feature of the coastline, constrains coral reef development, but hard ground and rock reefs with live corals are present throughout.

Mona and Desecheo are oceanic islands in the Mona Passage that belong to Puerto Rico. The northern sections of the islands are strongly impacted by wave action and their insular platforms are narrow, whereas the southern coastal sections of these islands are more protected and have wider platforms where coral reefs develop. There are no rivers on either of the islands, which are surrounded by waters of exceptional transparency (Cintrón et al., 1975). In Desecheo, the coral reef system is impressive at depths between 20-30 m with live coral cover exceeding 70% in many sections. The coral reef system off Puerto Canoas at Desecheo Island extends down to a depth of 40 m (García-Sais et al., 2004).
Source: Garcia-Sais, J.(Reni), R. Appeldoorn, A. Bruckner, C. Caldow, J.D. Christensen, C. Lilyestrom, M.E. Monaco, J. Sabater, E. Williams, and E. Diaz , 2005 , The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of Puerto Rico. . p.91-134 in Waddell, J. (ed.), 2005. The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 11. NOAA/NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment’s Biogeography Team. Silver Spring, MD. 522 pp. (See Document)

3 . Puerto Rico     Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has a population of approximately 3.8 million people. The capitol city of San Juan is the main population center with 434,000 people, or 11.4% of the total population (2001 Census; http://www.censo. gobierno.pr/Centro_Datos_Censales.htm, accessed 1/20/05). Bayamón (224,000), Ponce (186,000), Carolina (186,000), Arecibo (100,000), Guaynabo (100,000), and Mayaguez (98,000) are the other main population centers. With the exception of Guaynabo, the remaining six cities (which combine for 1.23 million people or 32% of the total population) are located on the coast (Figure 5.1). San Juan, Bayamón, Carolina, and Arecibo are located on the north coast, where no significant development of coral reefs occurs. These are coastal areas with a narrow insular shelf that experience heavy wave action during the winter and are under the influence of major river runoff. Most coral reef systems in Puerto Rico are located in areas upstream of major rivers and away from population centers and terrestrial inputs, such as those in Cordillera de Fajardo, Vieques, Culebra, and the oceanic islands of Desecheo and Mona. Extensive coral reefs also exist along the protected southwest coast, from Guayanilla to La Parguera and Cabo Rojo.
Source: Garcia-Sais, J.(Reni), R. Appeldoorn, A. Bruckner, C. Caldow, J.D. Christensen, C. Lilyestrom, M.E. Monaco, J. Sabater, E. Williams, and E. Diaz , 2005 , The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of Puerto Rico. . p.91-134 in Waddell, J. (ed.), 2005. The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 11. NOAA/NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment’s Biogeography Team. Silver Spring, MD. 522 pp. (See Document)

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