Spring 2021
Volume 10 | Issue 2

Assistance Needed with the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

-Feature Stories-
Puerto Rico Sea Grant Announces New SEAMAP-C Program Coordinator

CARIBE WAVE 2021 Exercise

Infographics Customize Flood-Resilience Message for Three U.S. Virgin Islands

Digital Coast Tsunami and Storm Surge Training Available in English and Spanish

Large-Scale Coral Restoration Begins in Florida Keys Sanctuary

General Announcements
Assistance Needed with the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Case studies from the U.S. Caribbean are needed for the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit regional website page, currently under construction. Studies can be adapted from already published sources or grant reports. They should be focused in some way on building climate adaptation, whether it be identifying exposure or vulnerability, community outreach to raise awareness about climate adaptation, or actual boots-on-the-ground projects such as raising buildings or beach replenishment projects. Instructions for submitting can be found at https://toolkit.climate.gov/contribute.
Feature Stories
Puerto Rico Sea Grant Announces New SEAMAP-C Program Coordinator
Logo of the Puerto Rico Sea Grant Program
Sea Grant would like to announce the new coordinator of the SEAMAP-C program. Carlos Zayas Santiago, a recent graduate of the Department of Marine Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez who specializes in fish behavior and acoustics, will be coordinating the program’s latest efforts. The program will provide the information needed by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and the Governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to implement plans that protect and restore the fishing stocks in order to support viable productive recreational and commercial fisheries. 

The overall goal of this project is to provide coordination for improved, more efficient, and more effective collection, management, and dissemination of fishery-independent data on the marine resources and their environment. Specifically, by testing, comparing, and applying survey methods that will improve the precision and accuracy of relative abundance, recruitment, estimates of catch per unit effort, yield, and other indicators related to the reef fishery resources in the Caribbean. This effort encompasses marine and estuarine waters, along with their living marine resources, within the territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) contiguous to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

All these survey methods will produce valuable data sets that will be analyzed and interpreted to inform not only traditional stock assessment evaluations, but also an Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) approach, which is currently developed for the U.S. Caribbean. Furthermore, we want to establish a common forum to plan, coordinate and evaluate fishery data collection and management activities in the region, with the goal of maximizing the usefulness of the data, minimize the costs, and increase the accessibility of information to fishery managers through the U.S. Caribbean region. These steps will inform and help fisheries managers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to identify, implement, and measure the effectiveness of fishery management plans and actions for their Territorial Waters.

We want to provide a cost-effective approach to fishery-independent data collection to fulfill priority data needs and provide information to support the Caribbean Fishery Management Council's and local government’s efforts to implement and monitor the effectiveness of fishery management plans for fisheries in the U.S. EEZ and regional waters. By testing, comparing, ground-truthing, and developing the most effective survey techniques for the Caribbean region. We can create the fisheries-independent data and additional baseline data required for the effective management of queen conch, lobster, and reef fish stocks in the USVI and Puerto Rico. 

Finally, we want to provide scientific-based fishery-independent information to commercial and recreational fishers as well as the general public. We want to bridge the gap between fisheries information and the local stakeholders. Specifically, by actively engaging with the coastal communities through presentations, workshops, and activities oriented to educate on the need for fishery sustainable management measures and practices. 
CARIBE WAVE 2021 Exercise
Participation of the CARIBE Wave 21 Exercise in British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Venezuela, France, and Colombia.
The annual CARIBE WAVE exercise for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions has been improving and validating tsunami readiness since 2011. The 2021 exercise with almost 350,000 participants from across the region took place on March 11 in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The majority of the participants were from National, State, and Local governments, followed by preparedness organizations and K-12 schools. In addition to these sectors which consistently have had a high level of participation, this exercise had the highest number ever of Non-Profit Organization, Museums/Libraries/Parks, Volunteer Radio Groups, and Media Organizations. Social media platforms have been the primary source for communicating tsunami awareness, reaching over 2 million people worldwide for this exercise. Despite the ongoing coronavirus emergency implications, the UNESCO IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS) decided to continue with the exercise. The CARIBE WAVE Task Team recommended countries to plan and execute accordingly, and take into consideration the CARIBE EWS COVID-19 guidelines. 

The exercise included two components, communications from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the Regional Tsunami Service Provider, and evaluation of the tsunami procedures and programs within Member States/Territories. It was left up to the countries to determine their level of participation and activities, and to choose between the two scenarios: Jamaica and Northern Lesser Antilles. The first scenario simulated a tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake located along the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault Zone (EPGFZ); the second scenario was a tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.5 earthquake located Northeast of the Leeward Islands.  

For the communications component, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a “Dummy” message at 14h00 UTC to all officially designated Tsunami Warning Focal Points (TWFP) and National Tsunami Warning Centers (NTWC). 

The NOAA Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program (CTWP) used virtual meeting tools to monitor CARIBE WAVE 21, including the availability of sea level data, which would be critical for forecasting and confirming a real tsunami event. If a tsunami had indeed occurred on this day, 30 of the 50 regional sea-level stations that would have been expected to record the tsunami were non-operational, including the 5 DART (Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis). For the first time, a regional hotwash was also held to receive feedback and discuss CARIBE WAVE 22 plans. CTWP is also gathering and processing feedback from the participating countries and territories through an online questionnaire. For more information on the exercise, the Jamaica and Northern Lesser Antilles scenarios, and reports please visit:

Planning for CARIBE WAVE 21 took over 10 months and was coordinated by a task team led by Dr. Elizabeth Vanacore of the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, coordinated by the US NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program, and supported by the Caribbean Tsunami Information Center and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. TsunamiZone.org was used for the registration of the participants.
US NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program staff virtual meeting on the day of the exercise.
Infographics Customize Flood-Resilience Message for Three U.S. Virgin Islands 
Partners in the U.S. Virgin Islands are leveraging input from community members and organizations to produce vivid infographics on flood-risk management that feature the unique landmarks and landscape characteristics of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. The infographics, plus additional materials, will form part of a multimedia campaign to bolster island flood-resilience awareness and buy-in. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management is aiding the project, which has been made possible by an Interagency Nonstructural Floodplain Management Service Project submitted by the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Silver Jackets team through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

“Our ultimate goal is helping local residents and government officials understand, in quick and easy ways, how to prepare for and mitigate floods, better protect lives and property, and know which entities to contact during a flood event,” says John McCombs, Southeast and Caribbean geospatial coordinator for the Office for Coastal Management. “When communities manage landscape and drainage channels properly through each island’s watershed, they can reduce flooding risks, improve water quality, and reduce runoff, which damages the nearshore ecosystems.”
Many additional partners are contributing information and guidance to this project, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, University of the Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Department of Planning and Natural Resources and Office of Disaster Recovery. 

To develop the St. Thomas infographic (see illustration), McCombs draped imagery data over a real-world, 3-D image of the surrounding elevation. Islanders and project partners shared their local knowledge, details of which were added to the final infographic. 

Each custom-watershed infographic will be about the size of a placemat when printed. Supporting materials will define watersheds, describe how watershed management works, list the local entities responsible, and explain unique island features that the public should consider when working to lessen flood risks and boost resilience. This campaign will reach island agencies and residents through handouts, social media, and newspaper and radio spots. 

“When communities know the keys to managing their own watersheds,” notes McCombs, “doing just that becomes a source of local pride. That’s what we hope to see with this campaign.”
This infographic for St. Thomas shows how water at upper elevations flows downward through agriculture, construction, and urban development sites and into the harbor, with ports and a marina nearby.
Credit: NOAA
Digital Coast Tsunami and Storm Surge Training Available in English and Spanish
As we approach the 2021 Hurricane Season, the NOAA Office of Coastal Management’s Digital Coast has several training videos available to help improve preparedness for and understanding of extreme weather events, such as Tsunamis and Hurricane Storm Surge. These tools are available in both English and Spanish. 

People are often unaware of the threat that tsunamis pose along the coast, as well as inland. If you live, work, or play on the coast, be prepared and stay safe! This engaging video provides compelling messages about Tsunamis in an easy-to-understand format.  

Additionally, people are often unaware of the threat that storm surge poses along the coast, as well as inland. This engaging video provides compelling messages about Storm Surge in an easy-to-understand format.
Large-Scale Coral Restoration Begins in Florida Keys Sanctuary
Originally appeared in NOAA News & Features on April 20, 2021
In the spirit of this year’s Earth Day theme “Restore our Earth,” NOAA and partners are beginning a three-year effort to outplant more than 60,000 fragments of nursery-raised coral at Eastern Dry Rocks Sanctuary Preservation Area off the coast of Key West, Florida. This is the first large-scale endeavor dedicated to Mission: Iconic Reefs, the unprecedented effort to restore seven coral reefs within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. 

“Outplanting at this unprecedented scale is one of many immediate actions needed to address the rapid decline in our treasured coral reefs,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA Administrator. “The Florida Keys has become a world leader in coral restoration with new techniques for addressing threats and accelerating coral growth, thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between NOAA, our partners, and a community of stewards.”

Eastern Dry Rocks contains a concentration of bank reef habitats that are ecologically and economically important to the Florida Keys. The elkhorn and staghorn corals that are being transplanted across more than nine acres include a high number of distinct genetic strains representing the historical diversity found on these reefs, and genotypes that have exhibited the highest survival and growth rates. Practitioner partners that will assist in the outplanting grew the corals in their respective nurseries over six to eight months. 
NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a $5 million grant through the National Coastal Resilience Fund to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, and Coral Restoration Foundation™ to restore Eastern Dry Rocks. The grant is the largest one-time investment since the initiative was announced in December 2019.  

Scott Winters, CEO of Coral Restoration Foundation, said “Coral Restoration Foundation has already begun a massive expansion of our Coral Tree Nursery in Key West to support the restoration of Eastern Dry Rocks. Since January 2021, we have now replenished the site with more than 1,085 genetically diverse staghorn and elkhorn corals and are well on our way to hitting our target of 7,350 by the end of the year. Knowing that we are not doing this alone, that this work is part of a much larger, coordinated effort, gives us a renewed sense of hope for the future of the Florida Keys.” 

"We are excited to press forward with the application of Mote’s innovative science-based coral restoration of genetically-resilient corals on such a broad scale at Eastern Dry Rocks,” said Michael P. Crosby, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium President & CEO. “Mission: Iconic Reefs is one of the largest reef restoration efforts in the world, and the collaborative efforts of Mote, NOAA, and our partners is unprecedented in this field. Florida’s Coral Reef is vital to our environment and economy, so Mote will continue to maximize our restoration efforts in support of Mission Iconic Reefs whenever possible.”

In later stages of the project, students and faculty of College of the Florida Keys will also help reintroduce thousands of herbivores, like the Caribbean King Crab, to the site to serve as natural grazers that help sustain a healthy ecosystem.
“In many ways, Eastern Dry Rocks serves as a test case for the other six Iconic Reef sites—from research and development on grazers to refinement of methodologies for maintenance and preparation,” said Sarah Fangman, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent. “Lessons learned from Eastern Dry Rocks will form the basis for standard operating procedures and implementation plans of future Iconic Reef sites.”

Informed by years of research, successful trials, and expertise from dozens of coral scientists and restoration practitioners, NOAA believes this scientific and collaborative restoration plan will put Florida’s reefs on track for recovery and demonstrate how restoration can support a vibrant, sustainable, local economy and help buffer communities from coastal storms. The reef track in the Keys attracts millions of visitors per year, accounting for more than $2 billion of economic impact.
“Florida Keys' iconic reefs, including Eastern Dry Rocks, are the basis for thriving ecosystems underwater and the critical tourism economy on dry land,” said Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “This project will transform how we approach coral restoration."

Related Resources

Media contacts
Jennie Lyons, NOAA, 202-603-9372
Stephannie Kettle, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, 941-302-4997
Alice Grainger, Coral Restoration Foundation, 415-770-8952
The coral fragments are attached to the reef with epoxy and tagged to keep track of genetic information. (Coral Restoration Foundation)
Credit: NOAA Media Release
General Announcements:

The National Estuary Program (NEP) Coastal Watershed Grant Program is soliciting proposals in the NEP coastal watersheds. In Puerto Rico, this includes the East / Northeast (see map here). The 2021 approaches are:
  • Harmful algal blooms
  • Loss of habitat
  • Flooding and coastal erosion
  • Important dates:
- Letter of Intent deadline: June 7

NOAA in the Caribbean Newsletter

If you wish to subscribe to NOAA in the Caribbean's newsletter or the community distribution list, please fill out this form.

If you wish to submit any questions, comments, story ideas, artwork or photographs, please e-mail us at CaribbeanNews@noaa.gov.

NOAA in the Caribbean Newsletter is produced by the NOAA in the Caribbean Steering Committee, including support from NOAA's Office of International Affairs, Southeast And Caribbean Regional Collaboration Team, Office for Coastal Management, National Marine Fisheries Service SE Regional Office, Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.