Reserva Natural Canal de Luis Peña
Isla de Culebra

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The Luis Peña Channel Natural Reserve was proposed by the Culebra Fishermen's Association to replenish local fish stocks and protect the coral reefs. This is the first NO TAKE marine protected area designated in Puerto Rico. The health of our coral reefs directly depends on strong reef fish populations. Similarly, fish and other animals such as lobsters and shellfish depend on the health of their coral reefs. The livelihoods and culture of the people of Culebra depend on healthy coral reefs. The people of Culebra thank you for helping to conserve their natural heritage by respecting this reserve area.



Inside the reserve are coral reefs (B) and sea grass (C). Corals are tiny colonial animals (A). After centuries of growth, corals create large underwater stony structures called reefs. Coral reefs protect our shores from pounding storm waves, create Culebra's spectacular white sand beaches, and provide vital habitat for marine plants and animals. Sea grass (C) is an important habitat of the coral reef ecosystem providing food, shelter and breeding grounds for reef animals. Sea grass is the only plant that flowers underwater (D). Sea turtles feed on sea grass blades and manatees forage on the roots. The roots of sea grass secure the sand on the sea floor, keeping coastal waters clear for the many plants and animals that depend on sunlight for energy.



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The slightest touch of hands, feet or fins can damage Culebra corals.

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The use of mooring buoys protects Culebra's magnificent underwater world from anchor damage.

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Many Caribbean islands have now outlawed jet skis or wave runners because of their poor safety track record and the threat they pose to habitats like sea grass and coral and protected species like West Indian manatees, brown pelicans, sea turtles, calving whales and one species clearly in danger of extinction but not yet officially listed…human snorkelers. Boats and jet skis should slow down around Culebra shore and avoid shallow areas, to help protect Culebra sea turtles, corals and coastal recreators.

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Plan to control erosion from any land clearing activity. In dry climates it is dangerous to deforest the land and deforestation may harm the soil as well as accelerate erosion which severely damages tropical coastal waters. As trees are removed and soil exposed, microorganisms important for healthy soil are destroyed when exposed to direct sunlight. Some microbes associated with soil runoff are proving lethal to corals and pose a risk to public health. This threat is increasing as these microbes proliferate in ever warming seas. Today coastal runoff from irresponsible land clearing is causing irreparable harm to the coastal waters of Culebra and Federally protected species and habitat.

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Global Warming is having a profound impact on our coral reefs. Inside the Luis Peña Channel Natural Reserve Area, we have witnessed in just the last few years the loss of huge coral colonies that had been alive since the time of Columbus. The loss was a result of the lethal combination of coastal water pollution and a profound coral bleaching event that occurred in the fall of 2005 in response to the highest sea surface temperatures ever recording in this region of the Caribbean. The loss in the Caribbean was followed by impacts to coral reefs in the southern hemisphere as seasons changed and Australia and Fiji witnessed dramatic coral bleaching and mortality in their regions.

In 2006, the spectacle of mass spawning of corals in our region did not take place. This was the first season in the history of scientists monitoring this event that spawning did not take place. UPR scientists at the Mayaguez campus took samples of coral and analyzed them. They found that the corals began their gamete production, but were too stressed to complete it. The partially produced gametes were being reabsorbed by the stressed animals, when normally they would have been released.

The result of the loss of these corals unfortunately, further accelerates global warming because healthy coral reefs are responsible for sequestering or harnesses carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. The Earth's rainforests and coral reefs are natural systems that help to maintain a breathable and stable climate on our planetary spaceship. We also are losing our coastal barriers in a time of stronger and larger tropical storms and hurricanes. As ice melts off the poles, we can expect increased seismic shifting of the earth's plates further compromising coastal communities and resources with destructive tsunamis. Caribbean island cultures are connected to their coral reefs and with the loss of the reefs, so may result the loss of this cultural diversity.

This should compel us to do everything in our power to reduce our energy consumption today and by doing so, scientists say that we can make a profound difference.

The situation we all face today should serve as a lesson learned to all of man kind that we should take care to never again allow politics and political agendas to skew scientific facts. The environmental problems we face today warrant scientifically supported solutions and should never again be allowed to fall victim to political punditry that so shamelessly supports such irresponsible conduct on the part of our industries.
The future of life on our planet now depends on this.

Never cast your vote for any politician who does not have a proven track record in defense of the environment or the capacity to acknowledge and understand the situation we all now face.


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CORALations, Inc.
P.O. Box 750
Culebra, PR 00775
787-556-6234 / Fax 530-618-4605
1-877-77-CORAL 1-877-77(2-6725)