Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a volcanic island in the Greater Antilles located in the north central Caribbean between the U.S. Virgin Islands to the east and the island of Hispaniola to the west. It is an archipelago comprised of the main island, the islands of Mona, Monito, and Desecheo in the Mona Passage, Caja de Muertos Island on the south coast, Vieques Island, Culebra Island, and a series of smaller islets, the "Cordillera de Fajardo."

The land area of Puerto Rico is comprised of coastal lowlands, a mountainous interior, and a karst area in the north. The central mountain chain is oriented east to west, with most of the major rivers flowing toward the northern shore. Other major mountain ranges are located in the northeastern, southeastern and northwestern regions. The island has no natural lakes. The climate is tropical marine with average coastal temperatures of about 26 °C (80°F), slightly cooler in the interior.

Puerto Rico is mostly surrounded by deep water. The Mona Passage, between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, is more than 1,000 meters deep. The Puerto Rico Trench (the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean), off the northern coast, is 8,500 meters deep, and from the southern coast, the ocean bottom descends to the Venezuelan Basin (5,000 meters).

Puerto Rico has a diversity of unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems including coastal mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coral reefs, tropical rain forests, tropical dry forests, and coastal plains. The archipelago harbors a diverse flora and fauna with a high level of endemism. The island has a linear coastline of 620 km, surrounded by over 5,000 km2 of shallow coral reef ecosystems. High population density and land uses have resulted in harmful impacts to the coral reefs, by sedimentation, eutrophication, and pollution, further compounded by algal growth and overfishing. Coral bleaching, diseases, invasive species, and physical damage have also contributed to the declining health of the reefs. Overall, approximately 93 percent of Puerto Rico's coral reefs are rated as threatened, with 84 percent at high risk and therefore among the most threatened in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico location map

Puerto Rico location map

Puerto Rico detail map

Puerto Rico detail map


Puerto Rico's Coral Reef Management Priorities

Puerto Rico Capacity Assessment Report and Coral Reef Conservation Time Line

Coral reef ecosystems of Reserva Natural La Parguera (Puerto Rico): Spatial and temporal patterns in fish and benthic communities (2001-2007). NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 107

A Baseline Assessment of the Ecological Resources of Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico

An Ecological Characterization of the Marine Resources of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Part I: Historical Data Synthesis

An Ecological Characterization of Vieques, Puerto Rico Part II: Field Studies of Habitats, Nutrients, Contaminants, Fish, and Benthic Communities

Biogeographic Characterization of Essential Fish Habitats Affected by Human Activities in the Coastal Zone of Puerto Rico. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 115

Coastal and Marine Ecosystems – Puerto Rico

USGS Water Resources of the Caribbean

Report on the Status of Marine Protected Areas in Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States. Volume 1: Marine Protected Areas Managed by U.S. States,Territories, and Commonwealths. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 2 February 2007

Chapter 16 - Status Of Coral Reefs in the U.S. Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico: Florida, Flower Garden Banks, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Navassa. In Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008. Edited by Clive Wilkinson.

Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean

Socioeconomic monitoring guidelines for coastal managers in the Caribbean: Socmon Caribbean

Puertorican Reefs: Research synthesis, present threats and management perspectives

Investigating Coral Reef Ecosystems in Support of NASA’s Earth Science Program

Puerto Rico Water Resources and Environmental Research Institute

Sediment Production from Natural and Disturbed Surfaces in dry Tropical Areas of La Parguera-Puerto Rico, 2003-2005, Seventh Caribbean Islands Water Resources Congress

State of the Reefs Reports (SOTR)

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008.

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005.

The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2002.

Local Action Strategy

Puerto Rico Local Action Strategies for Coral Reef Conservation 2011-2015

Puerto Rico Local Action Strategy Factsheet

Watershed Management Plans

Guanica Bay Watershed Management Plan - A Pilot Project for Watershed Planning in Puerto Rico

Culebra Community Watershed Action Plan for Water Quality and Coral Reefs

Metadata, Data and Publications Search in CoRIS

Search the CoRIS Geoportal for Puerto Rico metadata, data and publications.

ReefBase Coral Bleaching Reports

Select "U.S. Caribbean" in the region window and "Puerto Rico" in the Country window.

Near-real-time Data

Coral Reef Watch Satellite Monitoring

Coral Reef Watch - Greater Caribbean Virtual Stations

The Global Temperature-Salinity Profile Program

NOAA/National Weather Service - Data from Puerto Rico

NOAA CO-OPS - Tide Data

NOAA Tide Predictions - Puerto Rico

Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON)

USGS Water Resources of the Caribbean: Real-Time Streamflow, Lake-Level and Rainfall Data for Puerto Rico

USGS current water data for Puerto Rico

Real-time tracking of changes to rivers and streams within Puerto Rico
WaterWatch - Current Streamflow Conditions

Real-time tracking of flood conditions within Puerto Rico
Drought Watch

Real-time and historical earthquake information within Puerto Rico
Earthquake Activity

Other Data

Benthic Habitat Mapping of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Benthic Habitat Mapping Data - An Ecological Characterization of the Marine Resources of Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques BIOMapper - an interactive web tool to view maps & data

Jobos Bay BIOMapper - an interactive web tool to view maps & data

Coral Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Monitoring Database

GEOID99 Data for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: PC format

Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands high resolution aerial imagery (1965-1999)

Ultraviolet Monitoring Program: UV-Net

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Earthquake Information

Puerto Rico Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) Files

Historical Climate Summaries for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

USGS Coastal & Marine Geology InfoBank Regions (Puerto Rico) Data & Metadata  

Seafloor Characterization of the U.S. Caribbean

Education and Outreach

Caribbean Coral Reef Institute

Buck Island Reef National Monument: Partners for Protection and Resource Management - A collaborative documentary between the National Park Service and NOAA

Department of Marine Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

Puerto Rico- Source: 2007 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK and the Library of Congress Country Studies

Ocean and Coastal Management in Puerto Rico

Jobos NERR - Facebook page

University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program

Marine Protected Areas/Marine Managed Areas

Marine Protected Areas of the United States Home Page

The Marine Protected Areas Inventory

Federal MPA Legislation

Marine Federal Areas Fact Sheet

Executive order 13158: Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas of the United States: Puerto Rico

Arrecifes de tourmaline Natural Reserve

Arrecifes de Guayama Natural Reserve

Arrecifes de la Cordillera Natural Reserve

Bahías Bioluminiscentes de Vieques Natural Reserve

Bosque Estatal de AguirreBosque Estatal de Ceiba Natural Reserve

Bosque Estatal de Guánica Natural Reserve

Bosque Estatal de Piñones Natural Reserve

Bosque Natural de Boquerón Natural Reserve

Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge

Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve

Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge

Cabo Rojo Salt Flats

Caja de Muertos Natural Reserve

Canal Luis Pena Natural Reserve

Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve

Cano Tiburones Natural Reserve

Cueva del Indio Natural Reserve

Culebra National Wildlife Refuge

Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge

El Pantano, Bosque de Pterocarpus y Lagunas Mandry y Santa Teresa Natural Reserve

Hacienda La Esperanza Natural Reserve

Isla de Desecheo Marine Reserve

Isla de Mona Natural Reserve

Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

La Parguera Natural Reserve  

Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge

Laguna Joyuda Natural Reserve

Pantano Cibuco Natural Reserve

Punta Guaniquilla Natural Reserve

Punta Petrona Natural Reserve

Punta Yeguas Natural Reserve

Red Hind Spawning Aggregation Areas West of Puerto Rico - Abrir La Sierra

Red Hind Spawning Aggregation Areas West of Puerto Rico - Bajo de Cico

Red Hind Spawning Aggregation Areas West of Puerto Rico - Tourmaline Bank

Rio Espíritu Santo Natural Reserve Natural

Tres Palmas de Rincon Marine Reserve

Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf, and South Atlantic