Aymara Santos Arjona / Victoria Delgado Rivera / 11 years / Puerto Rico 

 Human beings make 99% of garbage, waste and other actions against the environment such as: coastal constructions, poor water quality, sand displacement artificially, light pollution, solid waste, fishing in excess, etc. Solid waste causes death in marine animals because they think they are food and eat it. The artificial displacement of sand causes floods and the disappearance of coasts. The excess construction near the coast causes overflow of sewers and when the sewers overflow, that dirty water reaches the sea. Excess fishing causes fish that have just been born to not grow and reproduce. Poor water quality causes corals to die and if corals die there will be no home for fish or food. In addition, there will not be a giant breakwater that protects us from waves and storm surges that reduce the possibility of coastal flooding. Also, global warming is acidifying rainwater, that water that reaches the sea, damaging corals and impacting the biodiversity that live in them. 

These problems are happening everywhere in the world and also on the coasts of Puerto Rico. We chose to go to the “Reserva Marina Arrecife de la Isla Verde” on Saturday, March 16, 2019 to learn about the reality that is occurring on the coasts of the Puerto Rico metro area. The garbage, the presence of contaminated waters and sedimentation by the sewers of the “Calle Dalia” and next to “Casa Cuba”, the boats, water motorboats and the constructions near the coast are some of their situations. 

Eight volunteers along with “Arrecifes pro Ciudad” participated in the workshop: How is the water? “Arrecifes Pro Ciudad” is a non-profit organization that monitors water quality twice a month in the “Reserva Marina Arrecife de la Isla Verde” in the municipality of Carolina. This coast became in 2012 the first marine reserve of an urban area in Puerto Rico. There is a coral reef and Cayo Isla Verde on the surface of the sea that must be protected because it is being lost. In this ecosystem we find animals such as the manatee, the lionfish, “blue tang”, chapín, “Queen Angelfish”, guanábano; moray eels; the “Tortuga peje Blanco”, the hawksbill; the blanket stripe; the conch; the starfish; the octopus and anemones. We also find different corals such as sea fans, brain coral, acropora palmata, finger coral, etc. Coral reefs occupy 1% of the seabed of the planet and 25% of marine biodiversity lives in them; fish, corals, invertebrates, crustaceans and seaweeds. Global warming is affecting corals because the water temperature rises and the zooxanthellae die. The zooxanthellae are microalgae that live inside the coral and are what give it the color. Without them, corals can’t live because they help each other. 

To avoid that the biodiversity of the sea disappears we must take care of our waters, avoid that the motor boats break the corals for this reason it is important to delimit the area with buoys so they are not touched because they are very sensitive. Monitoring water is important because “that gives us some parameters that tell us if the temperature is good, if the transparency of the water is appropriate, if the pH, that is what marks the acidity or the alkaline, is in the average where it has to be, as explained to us by Paco Lopez-Mújica, president of the organization. We measured the water to know it. We also monitored salinity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen in the water and wind speed. The wind is important because it is the one that forms the waves that make the waters clean. 

In addition, the organization calls for garbage pickups on the beach and reefs. As in the “International Coastal Cleaning that in Puerto Rico” that it is organized by Scuba Dogs Society. The “Reserva Marina de Isla Verde” next to the Balneario Carolina has the blue flag certification granted by the Sustainable Environment Organization (OPAS) and indicates compliance with strict cleanliness standards. Doing these things in Puerto Rico and around the world helps our marine ecosystems to be healthier. Remember not to pollute the water, do not litter and take care of our coral reefs. 

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