The Restoration of
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The mangrove stands at the mouth, the inner north peninsula and the western end of Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay. The brunt of the storm surge during Hurricane Maria caused almost total mortality of the mangroves that give the mouth of the bay its characteristic meandering shape and, in turn, protect the Pyrodinium bahamense bloom from washing out into the sea.
Drs. Elvira Cuevas and Ernesto Medina, scientists who conducted the post-storm assessment of the mangrove forest in Puerto Mosquito and its potential for recovery, recommended reforestation begin as soon as possible in the areas of total mangrove mortality. Since it can take 15 – 30 years to recuperate naturally, the crisis gave birth to a solution -- a specialized solar mangrove nursery, located at the Escuela Barbosa. This nature-based solution for reforestation of the Puerto Mosquito forest began with plants grown in this facility.
Four species of mangrove are grown--Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove), Avicennia germinans (black mangrove), Laguncularia racemosa (white mangrove) and Conocarpus erectus (button mangrove). Rhizophora is cultivated using an innovative protocol designed by VCHT biologist and Viequense, Erick Bermúdez Carambot, creating inundation, salinity and nutrient conditions that emulate those found in the bioluminescent bay. The nursery, powered by photovoltaic energy, serves as demonstration training, and an educational resource for the MANTA and The Wizards of Nature VCHT programs.
The VCHT Mangrove Project is developed with funding from ConPRmetidos, Hispanic Federation, 11th Hour Racing, The Ocean Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and our members and friends, in particular Lulu Atkin. Technical assistance is being provided by Manuel Merello. Many have contributed their valuable knowledge and support. Among them are biologist Edgardo Belardo, manager of the DNER Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay Nature Reserve; biologist Mike Barandiaran, manager of the USFWS Vieques Wildlife Refuge; agronomist Hilda Bonilla, agricultural agent in Vieques of the Agricultural Extension Service of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, ; Drs. Elvira Cuevas and Ernesto Medina, scientists from the Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation (CATEC) of the University of Puerto Rico have contributed their valuable knowledge and support.
Fieldwork is carried out by Mark Martín Bras, Erick Bermúdez Carambot, Neisha Ramos Benjamín and Michael Urayoan Connellly Reyes. The project manager is Lirio Márquez D’Acunti, executive director of the Trust.