2020 – 2023
The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust
Restoration to Support a Climate Resilient Bioluminescent Bay
Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico is a unique ecological feature, which serves as a key environmental, economic, and cultural resource for the island-municipality. This bay is one of only a few bioluminescent bays in the world and naturally glows in the dark as a result of bioluminescent plankton. However, in 2017, Hurricane Maria caused major impacts to the Bioluminescent Bay, threatening its biodiversity and bioluminescence. During the storm, an extensive amount of protective mangroves and seagrasses were destroyed, leaving large areas prone to ongoing erosion. The goal is to allow the restored areas to achieve sufficient maturity and coverage before the next major hurricane hits the region.
The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust (VCHT) has developed a specialized growing and restoration methodology for the reforestation and will utilize The Ocean Foundation recommended traditional mangrove and seagrass restoration design approaches that have proven successful in the Caribbean Region, to achieve maximum success rates. The collaboration will produce valuable information for the establishment of ecosystem restoration techniques for bioluminescent bays, marine life nurseries, safe harbors during storms, and climate change sentinel ecosystems. VCHT is especially focused on the importance of mangroves given the ecological relationship between red mangroves and the bioluminescent plankton at the Bay, which is a major ecotourism attraction and local economic engine. The Ocean Foundation will serve as the lead technical consultant in developing the large-scale mangrove and seagrass restoration plan, building on the initial 1.5-acre critical mangrove habitat restoration. This is the first time a multidimensional aquatic (seagrasses) and terrestrial (variety of local mangrove species) community-based restoration effort, includes the goal of maintaining a high abundance of a single species, bioluminescence dinoflagellate (Pyrodinium bahamense), and the unique and high environmental and socio-economic value area it represents.
- Restore 47 acres of mangroves and contribute to the overall protection of the 1,140 acres Vieques Bioluminescent Bay Natural Reserve.
- Restore 1 acre of seagrass in a strategic location near the entrance of the Bay and support larger restoration activities that expedite Bay morphology and ecological recovery.
- Replant over 5,500 mangroves and seagrass to re-establish a natural hurricane barrier protecting the bioluminescent bay, the adjacent fishing village, and Vieques’ main tourist district.
- Support mangrove nursery education field trips teaching about nature-based solutions to climate change for at least 300 local residents.
- Advance ocean-focused carbon markets by supporting the project blue carbon credits certification.
About The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust
For over 30 years The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust has been the island’s largest non-profit conservation organization. Our mission is to foster, study, protect, conserve and educate about Vieques’ natural and cultural resources, with a special emphasis on the Bioluminescent Bay, conducting non-formal education, hands-on conservation activities, and facilitating scientific research.
VCHT is committed to the sustainability and resiliency of Vieques: its people and the physical and cultural environment.