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. 
PI: Harms-Tuohy
Co-PIs: Tuohy, Scharer, Zayas

July 2019 - August 2022


Using eDNA to locate fish spawning aggregations


Funded by NOAA's Saltonstall-Kennedy program, Isla Mar was awarded this grant to explore the use of the unique sampling strategy called environmental DNA (eDNA) to search for target grouper and snapper species within specific sites around the west and southwest coasts. This project is groundbreaking for the field of fisheries management.
PI: Harms-Tuohy
Co-PIs: Tuohy, Schizas, Appeldoorn

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.
PI: Isla Mar and HJR Reefscaping

June 2019 - December 2022

Image by Jakob Owens

Monitoring and locating nurse shark aggregations in Puerto Rico


Funded by the PR Dept. of Natural and Environmental Resources, this project explores aggregation sites for the locally protected nurse shark. A small population of sharks will be tagged and monitored over two years. This project will set the baseline population estimate for this species in Puerto Rico.
PI: HJR Reefscaping and Isla Mar

new projects in 2022

Characterizing the diet of yellowtail parrotfish using DNA metabarcoding - for University of the Virgin Islands
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

Past Projects

Artedi: An Experiment in Efficacy
Ciencia Ciudadana en Hacienda la Esperanza



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


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

2012 -