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Current Projects

These are some of our top projects currently underway, either undertaken independently or through collaboration with local and international organizations.

January 2022 - August 2025

Nassau grouper by JP Zegarra

Strengthening the recovery of Nassau grouper in Puerto Rico


Funded by NOAA's Endangered Species Act Section 6 program, awarded to the Dept. of Natural & Environmental Resources, Isla Mar has been contracted to carry out the tasks of monitoring the last known Nassau grouper spawning aggregation in Puerto Rico. Other tasks include locating juvenile critical habitat and working with enforcement to educate about closures and species ID. 
Project L
ead: Isla Mar


March 2021 - June 2023

Investigating the use of recycled glass sand for coral reef restoration


Sponsored by the local brewery, Medalla, our team is working to establish a sustainable solution to the glass bottle waste issue on the island by turning it into useable sand to incorporate into coral reef restoration. This exciting project will plant 400 coral fragments and observe their growth over the course of one year to test the suitability of using the recycled glass sand for this type of restoration purpose. Read more about it here.
Project Lead
: Isla Mar and HJR Reefscaping

April 2022 - June 2023

Image by Karl Callwood

Characterizing the diet of the yellowtail parrotfish with DNA metabarcoding 

Funded by NSF, this project uses the genetic technique of DNA metabarcoding to assess and characterize the gut contents of yellowtail parrotfish. This study will give us a better idea of the exact items that this parrotfish species consumes. This project is in collaboration with the University of the Virgin Islands.
Project Lead
: Isla Mar
Partner: University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

July 2022 - July 2026

Image by Paul Volkmer

Setting the baseline for a marine debris-free Puerto Rico


Funded by NOAA's Marine Debris Program as part of the Biden-Harris Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this project will remove 70 abandoned derelict vessels (ADV) from around the island. We will also develop a coordination strategy between agencies to help facilitate a faster response to these issues. We will also be leading several outreach initiatives to educate about ADV prevention. 
Project Lead: Isla Mar
Partners: HJR Reefscaping, DNER

new projects in 2022 & 2023

Review of Hind Bank MCD and Grammanik Bank - for Caribbean Fishery Management Council

Reviewing the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve Studies and Management Plan - for DRNA

Comparing survey methodologies for sampling fish spawning aggregations - Caribbean Fishery Management Council

Multi-strategic Approaches to Scaling-up Ecosystem-based Restoration to Improve Coral Reef Recovery and Resilience around Puerto Rico - with ISER Caribe

Past Projects

Finding Fish: the Search for Fish Spawning Aggregations
Artedi: An Experiment in Efficacy

Using eDNA to locate fish spawning aggregations  | NOAA

Shark Watch: evaluating the significance of coral reef sharks in the Puerto Rican fishery with an emphasis on the management of Nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum | DNER



National Coral Reef Monitoring Program  | NOAAwith HJR Reefscaping
Improving the Field Training of Fish Surveyors using Tablet Technology (Artedi)  | SeaGrant

Evaluation of the Tarpon Mark and Recapture Project at Boquerón Impoundment  | DNER


Documenting the Fish Communities of Hacienda La Esperanza | Para La Naturaleza
Coral Reef Restoration of the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve | NFWF, with HJR Reefscaping
NCRMP Fish Calibration Part 1 | NOAA, with HJR Reefscaping
Rapid Response Assessment of MCEs after Two Hurricanes | NSFwith UPR-Mayaguez


Tres Palmas MR Citizen Science Project | SeaGrantwith Amigos de Tres Palmas
Monitoring Grouper Spawning Aggregations in Puerto Rico | NOAAwith HJR Reefscaping
Pass on Parrotfish Social Media Campaign | The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean
Assessing distribution and abundance of coral reef sharks in Puerto Rico | Global FinPrint
Coral cores of Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems in Puerto Rico | USGSwith UPR Mayaguez


2012 -

Coral Ecosystem Connectivity, Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys | NOAAwith UPR-Mayaguez
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems Cruise | with UPR-Mayaguez
National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Puerto Rico | NOAA, with HJR Reefscaping
Coral coring on MCEs to assess accretion rates, habitat composition | NatGeo, with UPR-Mayaguez

National Coral Reef Monitoring Program Puerto Rico | NOAA, with HJR Reefscaping
Monitoring Grouper Spawning Aggregations in Puerto Rico | NOAAwith HJR Reefscaping
Comparing Diver vs. Towed Video Surveys of Queen Conch | NOAA,  with UMES


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