“Emergency restoration at the grounding site saved thousands of corals. However, additional restoration is needed to stabilize the loose rubble, and increase survival of new corals so the reef will recover.”
NOAA Coral Reef Restoration Ecologist
Ship Grounding | Puerto Rico | April 2006
On April 27, 2006, the oil tanker T/V Margara ran aground on a shallow coral reef close to the Bahia de Tallaboa in Puerto Rico. The vessel was successfully removed from the site the following day without leaking oil into the water. However, response efforts and removal of the ship caused significant additional injury to the reef.
Emergency restoration was conducted at the site between 2006 and 2008. These actions saved approximately 10,500 corals and addressed some of the restoration needed at the site.
What Were the Impacts?
The grounding and subsequent response activities resulted in significant injury to the fragile reef ecosystem. Preliminary estimates indicate that approximately two acres of reef were affected. Several species of coral were impacted, including six listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
What’s Happening Now?
In 2014, NOAA and other Government officials acting on behalf of the public when there is injury to, destruction of, loss of, or threat to natural resources. evaluated a range of possible restoration activities. They released a Final Primary Restoration Plan in May 2015.
The selected primary restoration project involves stabilizing the injured area with limestone and boulders, and transplanting approximately 1,500 corals onto the site. Additional restoration planning is underway to fully address injuries to the reef ecosystem.
In July 2019 NOAA received $4,403,590.98 from the National Pollution Funds Center to fund primary restoration projects from the ship grounding. The coral reefs along the southwest coast of Puerto Rico are highly productive and important environments, home to a great diversity of tropical marine organisms including fish, shellfish, other invertebrates, and several protected species.
The selected restoration projects will aim to stabilize the reef and bolster recovery for the corals and the many species that rely on them.