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EPA to study Puerto Rico waters and marine habitat
Date:2/26/2009

Starting today, EPA's ocean survey vessel, the OSV BOLD, will conduct a series of scientific studies aimed at protecting and improving the Caribbean environment in and around the San Juan Bay Estuary, Jobos Bay, La Parguera and other marine areas around Puerto Rico. The ship will also be open to the public when it docks in San Juan on Feb. 12 and in Mayaguez on Feb. 19. On Feb. 23, the OSV BOLD will sail to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where its crew will study coral reefs for three weeks.

"The waters around Puerto Rico are some of the most ecologically-significant in the world, so protecting their health is a priority for EPA," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. "The state-of-the-art OSV BOLD represents EPA's commitment to scientific research at the highest level, and allows our scientists to collect valuable data that supports the conservation efforts of our partners in the region."

Outside San Juan Harbor, EPA scientists will use sonar scanning to establish patterns of where and when dredged materials were discharged to a site at the ocean floor. The San Juan Bay Estuary is the only tropical estuary included in the EPA's National Estuary Program, established in 1987 to help local communities identify, restore, and protect nationally significant estuaries of the United States.

At several locations around Puerto Rico, EPA scientists, joined by researchers from the University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla, will monitor and analyze marine debris like plastic, Styrofoam and other common trash. In Jobos Bay, off Puerto Rico's southern coast, EPA will again use sonar scanning to refine reef maps of the bay. Further west, in reefs off La Parguera, EPA will continue a 2007 study to sample sea bottom, or benthic sediments, which help gauge the reefs' health.

At an observation station some 25 nautical miles off Puerto Rico's southwestern coast, EPA will test sea water to determine its temperature, salinity and dissolv
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Contact: John Senn
senn.john@epa.gov
212-637-3667
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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