Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leatherbacks, Sea level sensors, PVC tube removal from mangroves begins, Update from the Indicators Project

Photos: Saving leatherbacks, Summer Festival at the Fishermen Peninsula, Kayak Federation Open House, PVC tube removal begins

Our update for May 23 to June 13, 2011, is as follows:

Unforgettable experience: Saving leatherback turtles: In a beautiful activity at the Isla Verde Public Beach, sixteen (16) baby Leatherback turtles were liberated to the sea on June 8, 2011. Volunteers and the Department of Natural Environmental Resources (DNER) were able to save the turtles from predators following their hatching the previous day. The DNER representative, Herminio Díaz, instructed the participants on the importance of taking care of the turtle nesting areas. Leatherback sea turtles are the biggest turtles on Earth; adults can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, and are generally at least 6 feet long. Our Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera, participated in the event.

Sea level sensors to be deployed by the SJBEP: On June 6, 2011, Dr. Jorge Bauzá met with Director of the USGS in Puerto Rico Pedro Díaz, USGS water and environmental sampling expert Luis Soler, and USGS Hydrologist Carlos Figueroa to evaluate site alternatives for the deployment of water level sensors. Four sites were selected based on accessibility, and on the safety of the instruments and field technicians. Moreover, the selected sites represent typical tropical estuarine water bodies. The sites chosen are San José Lagoon, San Antonio Channel, Torrecillas, and Piñones Lagoon.

Grant application and Work Plan submitted: We want to thank our Board of Directors for their collaboration in the submission of this year’s Grant application to EPA. The document includes a myriad of activities that will continue to further the restoration of Puerto Rico’s most important watershed for the economy of the island.

Kid Summer Festival at the Península de los Pescadores (Fishermen Peninsula) in the Piñones community: On Saturday, June 4, 2011, more than one-hundred children from the Afro-Caribbean community of Piñones enjoyed a Summer day coordinated by the community leaders of their neighborhood. Activities included kayak trips, music, and educational talks from agencies and organizations, including the SJBEP. Gladys Rivera and Ernesto Olivares measured a 90% knowledge acquisition about the term ‘estuary’ among participants, and recruited enthusiastic children who explained how to perform the water quality monitoring tests to adults and other children.

Epilepsy patients receive our educational talk: Eager to learn more about their environment, twenty participants of the Epilepsy Foundation Summer Camp received an educational talk from Gladys Rivera on June 10, 2011. The event included the projection of the Estuary Guardians’ short movie, and "Basura Caliente" – a game in which each participant represented a waterbody of the estuary and needed to protect that waterbody from contamination. The activity took place in William M. Acosta School in Bayamón.

Kayak Federation Open House a success!: On June 11 and 12, 2011, the Kayak Federation organized a successful event at which hundreds of participants enjoyed free kayak and canoe rides in the Jaime Benítez Condado Lagoon Park. Gladys Rivera offered talks and distributed educational flyers about the SJBE ecosystems.

National Ocean Science Bowl will visit the SJBE: The winning team from the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) ( will be visiting our estuary on July 19, 2011, as part of their prize, which includes a one-week educational visit to Puerto Rico. We will report more information as the event approaches.

Mangrove planting monitoring continues - PVC tube removal begins: As part of their school environmental program, students from the San Ignacio School will continue their red mangrove monitoring activities at our Condado Lagoon restoration site. Students have performed an assessment of the planting and identified the need to plant 100 additional seedlings. The volunteers began removing PVC tubes. The activity took place at the San Gerónimo planting site on June 9, 2011.

Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) and the Implementation Committee (ImCo) regular meetings: The STAC met at the library of the Environmental Offices Building on May 26, 2011. Key activities for next work plan were discussed. The next STAC meeting was scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2011. The STAC welcomes Katia Avilés from the Enlace Project as a new member. The ImCo met at the Solid Waste Management Authority on May 31, 2011 at 1:00pm.

Sediments and Fish Tissue Contaminants Indicators Project - Summary of field activities completed between May 30 and June 3, 2011:

Sampling of Bottom Sediments

  • Sediment samples were collected from the nine stations located within the "eastern half" of the SJ Bay Estuary (i.e., Stations 1SJB, 2SJB, 3SJB, 16SJB, 5PC, 6MP, 4RPN, 15LC, and 18LC).
  • Sediment samples and one equipment blank were FedExed to Pace Analytical Laboratories in New Orleans, to comply with sample holding times.

Sampling of Fish and Crab Tissues

  • Fishing (traps and nets) for Mojarra and blue crab (targeted species) was conducted for three days (June 8-10) at the five biota sampling stations located within the eastern half of the SJ Bay Estuary.
    • Biota Sampling Station 6 MP (Martin Peña) had to be moved westward, as bottom anoxic conditions prevented the capture of any organisms. The anoxic conditions were evidenced by the reduction of iron oxide on the cages.
  • Regarding fish:
    • Fish were captured at four of the five stations (all but the 5PC Sampling Station).
    • Mojarras were only present at two sampling stations (although of different species and sizes), whereas other edible fish species (snappers) were captured at the remaining two stations.
  • Regarding blue crab:
    • Crabs were captured at all but the Martin Peña Sampling Station.
    • The minimum tissue weight required to perform all chemical analyses was not collected at the Sampling Stations.

Epidemiological study on its way: Yadiris López Rivera, a doctorate candidate from the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Puerto Rico, will begin a required graduate internship under the supervision of Dr. Jorge Bauzá. López will complete an epidemiological study about water-born diseases in the communities surrounding the Martin Peña Channel. She met with Dr. Bauzá on May 27, 2011, to discuss the objectives, approaches, and methodology of the study.

Agreement with the PR Planning Board to acquire aerial photos: We will use aerial photos to develop a new land use map for the SJBE, and to identify and quantify changes in natural resources. This map will be the basis for the development of watershed indicators. A key meeting with Yanira Valles – Remote Sensing and Image Technician from the Puerto Rico Planning Board – took place on June 2, 2011.

Abstract submitted for local symposium/ scientific talk at the Natural History Society: On June 6, 2011, Dr. Jorge Bauzá submitted an abstract for the Second Sea Escape Symposium organized by the PR Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. The title of the presentation is: “Enhancing and Monitoring the San Juan Bay Estuary: Lessons Learned in an Urban Estuary.” Also on June 6, Dr. Bauzá offered a presentation about the San Juan Bay Estuary Program to the PR Natural History Society, the oldest environmental organization in Puerto Rico.

Mentoring graduate student to analyze benthic images: Dr. Jorge Bauzá will mentor graduate student Mr. Ariel Lopez from the University Of Puerto Rico. Mr. Lopez will analyze benthic images of the SJBE submerged coastline. The objective is to characterize critical resources, such as coral reefs, that depend on what is exported from the SJBE system. The UW images were obtained through collaboration between the SJBE Program and USEPA OSV Bold. Ariel Lopez and Dr. Bauzá last met on June 8, 2011.

Revised seagrass restoration QAPP submitted to EPA: The revised Quality Assurance Project Plan for the Water Quality Improvement and Seagrass Restoration Project at the Condado Lagoon was submitted to EPA on June 13 for final approval.

New scientific article published in local newspaper: On May 29, 2011, Dr. Jorge Bauzá published in May 29, 2011 a two-page scientific article entitled “Methane: A Gas with Multiples Faces” in El Nuevo Día:


"Summer 2011 at the Estuary": This Summer we are coordinating and promoting several activities for volunteers and families. The calendar includes an agreement with our estuarine partner – the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve – to visit their facilities. Let’s enjoy the Summer and our estuaries! For a copy of the calendar, please visit our website, call 787 725 8165, or email us at:


El Nuevo Día

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