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'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
Biogeographic Characterization of Essential Fish Habitats Affected by Human Activities in the Coastal Zone of Puerto Rico. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 115
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.
Search the CoRIS Geoportal for Puerto Rico metadata, data and publications.
Select "U.S. Caribbean" in the region window and "Puerto Rico" in the Country window.
NOAA/National Weather Service - Data from Puerto Rico
NOAA CO-OPS - Tide Data
NOAA Tide Predictions - Puerto Rico
Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON)
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
Real-time and historical earthquake information within Puerto Rico
Vieques BIOMapper - an interactive web tool to view maps & data
Jobos Bay BIOMapper - an interactive web tool to view maps & data
Department of Marine Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
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
Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve
Caja de Muertos Natural Reserve
Canal Luis Pena Natural Reserve
Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve
Cueva del Indio Natural Reserve
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
Laguna Joyuda Natural Reserve
Pantano Cibuco Natural Reserve
Punta Guaniquilla 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