Monday, December 21, 2015

Our highlights for the month of October 2015

Informative table at Calle Loíza Festival:

On October 4th 2015 we had the opportunity of once again connecting with the citizens of the estuary through an informative table at the Calle Loiza Festival. Along other organizations such as ENLACE and Casta Taft 169, we shared our educational materials and volunteer opportunities with the presents.

Guardians of the Estuary:
As part of their Guardians of the Estuary program, the students of the Onofre Carballeira intermediate school conducted a study of the storm water drains close to their school in Cataño. Integrating the technological tools they had available, they used their mobile phones to locate and tag any drain or sewer in their proximity. In the process they learned about the use and processes of each type of drainage. The activity concluded with the tagging of the sewers using the Estuary tags that read “Llega a tu playa!” (This drains to your beach!”.

New office at Old San Juan:
We were very busy last week working making sure everything went smoothly with the relocation of our office to the Old San Juan. This new location will have a visitor center and will put us in direct with the public, the San Juan Bay and the opportunity to create visual exhibitions about different topics of importance to the Estuary. This year the Visitor Center exhibition is dedicated to the Martín Peña Channel and the history of their struggle.

Tampa Bay Estuary Program-sponsored BASIS Symposium:
San Juan Bay Estuary Program long time volunteer and AmeriCorps Vista Leader Diana Ferro participated last week from the Bay Area Scientific Information (BASIS) Symposium sponsored by our colleagues at the Tampa Bay Estuary Program in Florida. Way to go Diana!

The Isla Verde Reef Natural Reserve celebrates its 3rd anniversary:
During the night of September 26th, under the light of the “supermoon”, our science director, Dr. Jorge Bauzá talked about the SJBEP to the attending the ceremony. We are very proud of Paco López, community leader at Isla Verde and recipient of this year “Sentinel of the Estuary” award.

50 anniversary of the AmeriCorps VISTA Program:
Today, our  AmeriCorps VISTA attended the 50 anniversary of the Program in Puerto Rico.
They were part of the conference that discussed several topics including poverty in the island and their efforts to eradicate it.

Shoreline tour with VISTA Ivangs Rivera:
Today our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer y great friend of the Estuary, Ivangs Rivera, offered an educational tour along the north shore of the estuary -from Loiza to Toa Baja- to tens of middle and high school students from the La Milagrosa school in Ponce.
Days like today reveal our most important mission: volunteers educating and generating more volunteers to create change in our environment.
Thank you Ivangs!

Birds of the Estuary workshop:
Not all birds are pigeons and “changos”!
Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and bird expert offered a shore bird workshops at Fair View School in Trujillo Alto.

2015 Sentinel of the Estuary:
During our last Board of Director Meeting held on October 8, 2015, a very important event concurrently took place. We celebrated 16 of our most important community, municipal and agencies leaders in the effort to conserve the SJBE. We called the award “Sentinel of the Estuary” because of the groundbreaking work these colleagues have performed throughout the years. The 2015 Sentinels of the Estuary are:
  • Alberto Lázaro, PRASA
  • Ernesto Díaz, CZMP
  • Capítulo Estudiantil de la Sociedad Ambiente Marino
  • Pedro Carrión, Corredor del Yaguazo
  • G-8, Martín Peña communities
  • Grupo 7 Quillas
  • Noelia Rosa
  • Maylene Pérez
  • Nilsa Medina
  • Paco López, Arrecife de Isla Verde
  • Laura Roldán
  • Luis Crespo, Lago Las Curias
  • Juan Cruz, Chiclana Creek
  • Ariel Lugo, IITF
  • Jimmy Nieves, MillerCoors
  • Claudia Gutiérrez

PEW Trust Meeting and Field Trip:
During the past Saturday afternoon we hosted a field trip for a group of world class scientists that were visiting the Island as part of the PEW Fellows Symposium held in Rio Grande during the weekend. The group had requested a field trip to visit the SJBE and continuing with our tradition of support to local enterprises, we hired Melba Ayala and her ecotourism company Excursiones Eco to take the group of 12 scientist that came from Brazil, Philippines, Canada, China and the US to learn about the Martín Peña Channel and the ecosystems of the SJBE.
By the end of the day we discussed the history of the Martín Peña Channel, the ecology of local mangroves and other species, the fisheries of the San José lagoon and the importance of the dredging of the channel for the overall health of the system. The group left very satisfied with the trip, we hope to see them soon again!

Guardians of the Estuary in Carolina:
Led by their Earth Sciences teacher, Yamila Meléndez, the Guardians of the Estuary from the Dr. Gilberto Concepción de Gracia high school, in Carolina, receive a training before the water quality monitoring of the waters of the Suárez Channel.
We warmly welcome these new citizen scientists who study and work voluntarily for the Estuary and the quality of its waters.

Trash Free Waters Project Video:
Our communications team put together a short documentary highlighting our Trash Free Waters initiative. It's part of our ongoing effort to educate the citizens of Puerto Rico about the presence of bodies of water in their urban environments, and highlights the efforts of many organizations who have worked with us in this project.  The video has been published in our new YouTube Channel as of Monday, October 19th, 2015. Here's the video:

Classical Music Workshops:
We have chosen the proposal brought forth by a small music academy named Kids & Musik, located in Santurce, to bring classical music interactive workshops to the children of 8 schools located within the communities of the Martín Peña Channel.  This project is part of our AmeriCorps VISTA strategy implementation and is funded by the Titín Foundation. We are currently in the process of setting up dates for the workshops.

Make a difference day:  
On saturday october 24th teamed up with volunteers from Banco Popular to plant sea grapes and study beach erosion in Piñones as part of their “Make a difference day”. During the half a day event adult and children volunteers performed beach profiles, explored the wildlife of the sandy beach and planted sea grapes to help stabilize the sand dunes.

Lionfish removal training:
On October 25th, SJBEP’s marine biologists Carmen Valentín and Ivangs Rivera recieved training on the removal and management of the invasive species, the Lionfish. The training covered theoretical aspects of the removal and ended up with a practice in the artificial reefs in Escambrón where 3 lionfishes were safely removed from the environment.

School trip to the Piñones natural reserve forest:  
On October 30th, Javier Cardona also took the students of the Piñones’ community elementary school to the Piñones forest and lagoon. The activity was supported by our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, who are working  on resource-based economic opportunities with this community.


Educative trip through our estuary watershed:
Our education manager Javier Cardona took a group of students in an adventure through our watershed.  The students, from the University Gardens specialized school in sciences and mathematics, started in the southernmost part of the watershed, in Las Curías Lake and the Caimito community of Chiclana, within San Juan. They met community leader Juan Cruz who spoke to them about the community's commitment to their natural resources. The students continued their trip northwards, where they ended in the beautiful beaches of Piñones, easternmost part of our watershed. 26th October 2015.


Trash Free Waters Conference:
On Monday, 26th of October, we were part of the TFW and the Puerto Rico Recycling Partnership Conferences, which we facilitated, in Cantera, next to the San José Lagoon. This conference served as the premiere of our TFW initiative short documentary, shot and edited by our communications team of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers.


Mass death of fish in San José Lagoon:
The effects of the water in the San José Lagoon running out of oxygen were first apparent during the weekend. By Monday, the lagoon’s condition was at its worst. Our executive director, Dr. Javier E. Laureano and scientific director, Dr. Jorge Bauzá, addressed the media several times in the following days, educating the population on the cause of this occurrence, as well as one of the solutions to insure this won’t happen again: dredging the Martín Peña Channel. The state of the Lagoon served as a poignant backdrop to our TFW and  PRRP conferences.

Dr. Javier Laureano interviews for Telemundo Puerto Rico
Dr. Jorge Bauzá interviewing for WAPA TV Puerto Rico

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