With the overall health of Puerto Rico’s shallow coral reefs in decline, the recent discovery of abundant reef fish farther out brings hope that the stocks may help to replenish populations on shallower reefs.
NOAA-funded scientists found the extensive and biologically diverse coral ecosystems occurring at depths between 100-500 feet within a 12 mile span off the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico.
Too deep for exploration with traditional scuba gear, these reefs have until recently remained largely unexplored because of the cost and technical difficulty of reaching them. Advances in diving techniques allowed scientists to safely dive and conduct this pioneering survey.
“We had no idea how extensive, vibrant, and diverse these mesophotic coral ecosystems are off La Parguera,” said Richard Appeldoorn, lead principal investigator at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.
Scientists are seeing fish species that were once common inhabitants of shallow reefs such as groupers, snappers, and reef sharks,” said Kimberly Puglise with NOAA’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, which funded the study.
(READ more at NOAA News)