Volunteer Valentine

Volunteer Valentine

Last month a NERRS/NOAA team showed how much NERRds heart estuaries and their colleagues. Together with Jobos Bay staff, neighbors, and friends, they rebuilt a SWMP station, restored a trail on Key Caribe, and cleared away debris in the nearby Carite Forest.

Watch what can be accomplished when NERRds put their hands and hearts together. (With thanks to Milton Munoz and others for the images in this video.)

Estuary education is also part of hurricane recovery, as Chris Bowser learned in Puerto Rico last month. With his Jobos Bay colleague Ernesto Olivares, the Hudson River educator explored the differences between New York and Puerto Rican estuaries with middle schoolers, guided a field program with high school scientists-in-training, and of course, fired up the chainsaw to clear some trails. (Now that’s a tool that comes in handy in New York or Puerto Rico in the winter!). Read more about their week HERE. 

Funds & Love from Maine to Puerto Rico & Texas

Funds & Love from Maine to Puerto Rico & Texas

Post Harvey damage in Texas. Photo courtesy of Jace Tunnell.
There is something about family and friends—when you get knocked down they are there to help lift you back up. That’s just what Wells Reserve is doing for two members of our NERRS family. The nonprofit partner of our Wells reserve in Maine, the Laudholm Trust, is sending $1,500 to help our Texas and Puerto Rico reserves recover and rebuild. They collected the funds from ticket proceeds from the recent Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival. More than 4,000 visitors attended the festival, with perfect weather spurring record revenues for the 30th annual fundraising event.

“These are one-time, emergency relief donations sent in response to the unprecedented and powerful storms that directly hit our sister reserves,” said Jessica Gribbon Joyce, chair of the Laudholm Trust board. “The 29 estuarine reserves across the country are a tight-knit family, so we were heartbroken to see the devastation in Texas and Puerto Rico. We wanted to help our friends and colleagues get back to full capacity as soon as possible.”

Our NERRS family is resilient and strong, and with help from friends like these, we have no doubt our reserves will recover and rebuild to be stronger than ever.

Jobos Bay Reserve Uses Telemetry to Study Manatee Health

Jobos Bay Reserve Uses Telemetry to Study Manatee Health

Jobos Bay Reserve staff and partners involved in the Manatee Health Assessment and Radiotelemetry Project. Photo courtesy of the Puerto Rico Manatees Conservation Center.

It has been such a difficult time for our Jobos Bay Reserve. We want to share a story of the good work they have done and that we know they will be prepared to do again.

The Jobos Bay Reserve is home base for the Manatee Health Assessment and Radiotelemetry Project, an innovative initiative to study the manatee population on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. Reserve staff have been collaborating with a wide number of scientists and organizations including the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center, Interamerican University Bayamon, U.S. Geological Survey Sirenia Project, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Georgia Aquarium, University of Florida, Dallas World Aquarium, Dolphin Discovery of Mexico, Omacha Foundation of Colombia, Los Andes University of Colombia, and many veterinarians and volunteers.

Jobos Bay shared their facilities, including new dorms and a laboratory, and the project’s health assessment site was an area close to the boat ramp on the reserve’s Salt Flat Trail. Stewardship Coordinator Milton Muñoz was part of the capture team onboard a new, specially designed, 27-foot boat owned by the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center.

During the first three days of sampling in the waters of Jobos Bay, with the help of a spotting airplane, the capture team was able to identify the areas where the manatees spend the majority of their day. Three captures were attempted during these days but the manatees managed to escape.

Spotting airplane helps boats on the water capture manatees in the study area.
Photo courtesy of the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center.

However, on the fourth day the manatee capture was a success! First an adult female was caught close to the SWMP station in Salinas. The team named her Abey and weighed her in at 897 pounds. A tracking system device was attached to her tail before she was released. The second manatee was a juvenile male caught in the Guayama area of the bay and was named Baracutey. The fifth day of the sampling week brought about the capture of another juvenile male named Bimini. The team collected genetic and skin samples from all manatees, well as other vital health and morphometric data. This will support future assessments of manatee habitats, including the seagrass beds.

The research team monitors the manatee’s vitals and takes skin, genetics, and others samples before releasing it back to the bay. Photo Courtesy of the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center.

ReservesJobos Bay, Puerto Rico