Study finds serious pollution in seabottom sediments of Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico

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Trouble at the bottom of the Caribbean, as researchers document high concentrations of toxics in sediments.

Toxins may be harming coral reef ecosystems

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Standing along the shore of Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico, the dazzling aquamarine Caribbean waters look normal. But deep below the surface, there may be trouble brewing, according to researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Pollutants measured in the sediments of the bay are among the highest ever measured by NOAA’s National Status & Trends, a nationwide contaminant monitoring program that began in 1986. The pollutants include PCBs, chlordane, chromium and nickel, according to the new NOAA study. Continue reading

Puerto Rico manatees threatened by lack of genetic diversity

Manatees at risk in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy NOAA.

USGS research shows isolated population

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Puerto Rico’s manatees could be threatened by extinction because they are relatively isolated genetically, with no cross-breeding between the Puerto Rico population  and those in Florida.

The findings, which come from a study of West Indian manatees by the U.S. Geological Survey and Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center, could help resource managers make decisions about how to conserve the endangered marine mammal. Continue reading

Maria weakens, warnings discontinued

Tropical Storm Maria is advancing on the eastern Caribbean islands.

Maria falls apart due to shear, warnings dropped, storm could regain strength the next few days

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Tropical Storm Maria weakened over night and tropical storm warning have been dropped in Guadeloupe, St, Maartin, Saba and St. Eustatius, Antigua, Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, Sait Kitts and the British Virgin Islands, as well as Dominica, St. Barthelemy, St, Marteen and Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Maria will move over the Leeward Islands Saturday and approach the Virgin Islands by Saturday night. The storm is forecast to produce only a few inches of rain. Continue reading

Tropical Storm Emily spurs watches and warmings

Tropical storm Emily 2011

Tropical Storm Emily is starting to move through the Caribbean Basin.

Long-term outlook uncertain, as circulation may collapse over Hispaniola

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As expected, an area of disturbed weather near the Lesser Antilles has developed a well-defined eye and is now categorized as Tropical Storm Emily, bringing tropical storm conditions to the Windward Islands. A storm surge will raise water levels by one to two feet above normal tides and generate dangerous surf.

Emily has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and is expected to strengthen gradually during the next 48 hours. Tropical storm-force winds extend out about 70 miles from the center, mainly to the north. Lack of mid-level moisture may prevent the storm from reaching hurricane strength in the immediate future, according to forecasters with the National Hurricane Center.

Emily could fall apart when it encounters the rugged mountains of Hispaniola in a couple of days, according to the National Hurricane Center. If the circulation survives, the storm could strengthen again in the medium-term. Beyond that, models are having a hard time forecasting a potential track, which could be anywhere from east of the Bahamas to southern Florida. Read the forecast discussion here.

For now, tropical storm warnings have been issued for Dominica, the islands of Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra and the Dominican Republic, where tropical storm conditions can be expected within the next 36 hours.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Antigua.

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