We are very excited to announce the newest member of the Swim Guide affiliate program, Surfrider Foundation’s Rincón Chapter in Puerto Rico!
The Rincón Chapter was originally formed in 2001 by a small group of devoted citizens in an effort to help create the Reserva Marina Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, Puerto Rico’s first co-managed and protected marine area. Rincón became an official chapter of the Surfrider Foundation in 2009. This made them the organization’s first chartered chapter in a predominantly Spanish-speaking territory.
This partnership comes at an important time in Fundacion Surfrider Rincón’s history. Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September of 2017, the Chapter has been the only active water quality monitoring body on the island for both recreational and drinking water. Fundacion Surfrider Rincón shares its results through its website, facebook page, radio broadcasts and on public announcement boards.
Swim Guide is happy to be able to provide an additional platform to share this important information. Mara Dias, Surfrider’s water quality manager, covers the critical importance of the Rincón Chapter’s monitoring program following Hurricane Maria.
Fundacion Surfrider Rincón is founded on principles of community-led environmentalism and citizen-science, and its actions are based on the CARE concept of Conservation, Awareness, Research and Education. Beyond its community-based water quality monitoring program (the only of its kind in Puerto Rico), the organization’s other activities include beach cleanups, tree planting, waste management, youth engagement, and educational outreach.
They frequently collaborate with other local environmental and community organizations, the marine sciences department at the Mayaguez campus of the University of Puerto Rico, and the Sea Grant Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
As a founding partner of the Reserva Marina Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, Fundacion Surfrider Rincón continues to protect and monitor the reserve. They also promote and encourage the creation of more co-managed marine reserves around Puerto Rico.
The Rincón Blue Water Task Force tests both marine and freshwater sites for enterococcus, a coliform bacteria that indicates fecal pollution. Testing is conducted on a weekly basis year-round. Operating out of a primary lab in Rincón and secondary lab at the Ramey School in Aguadilla, the Rincón Chapter has banded together with local groups and organizations to restart their water testing program.
Featuring over 700 miles of coastline and 5000 square kilometers of shallow coral reef ecosystems, Puerto Rico is home to incredibly biodiverse coastal and marine areas. Beyond coral reef, coastal habitats also include seagrass beds, mangrove forest, coastal lagoons, salt flats, and freshwater swamps. There are 26 animal and 32 plant species listed as endangered or threatened in Puerto Rico. A majority of them rely on healthy coastal habitats to survive. Puerto Rico also features an expansive river system, which plays an integral role in supporting coastal habitats. The rivers support migratory fish and invertebrates, and nourish coastal wetlands.
A good example of Puerto Rico’s rich biodiversity is the Reserva Marina Tres Palmas Marine Reserve. This small area alone includes sea turtle nesting sites, whale breeding grounds, and one of the last healthy and genetically diverse strands of elkhorn coral reef (acropora palmata).
Puerto Rico’s West Coast is also a world renowned surfing destination. Beaches across the western coast feature a wide range of conditions, and have hosted some of the world’s largest professional surfing events.
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