From NYC to PR: BOLD Coral Condition Survey in the Caribbean

EPA Photo/Charles LoBue

By Charles LoBue 

Every day, I commute to my EPA office in downtown New York. However, twice a year, I’m assigned to work on EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel BOLD. I am currently on assignment in Puerto Rico to monitor coral reefs. 

EPA Photo/Charles LoBue

The BOLD mobilized from San Juan with a team of scientist divers to conduct a coral condition survey along the southern coast of Puerto Rico. The primary plan is to collect detailed information and measurements of biological conditions important to coral reef health and sustainability. The BOLD is the perfect platform to allow 14 divers conduct these detailed surveys at 60 locations over a distance of 100 miles.  

The BOLD crew deploys two small boats daily, call signs PARKER and WILLARD, to carry teams to the survey sites.  It’s no small task to mobilize two five-diver teams and their pile of equipment several times a day, and the very capable BOLD crew makes it easy to launch the two boatloads within 10 minutes. We’re thankful that sea conditions have been really good, and we can generally complete seven stations a day.  After the 60 coral stations are complete, we will proceed to assess seagrass condition and sediment transport issues associated with runoff from Guanica Bay watershed.  

After eight days of diving operations, the divers are holding up well and looking forward to the next eight days.

Stay tuned for the second installment by our NYC scientist reporting from the BOLD.  

About the author: Charles LoBue is a biologist for EPA Region 2 Dredging, Sediment, and Oceans Team. He is an EPA-certified Chief Scientist for the Ocean Survey Vessel BOLD and is divemaster in EPA’s Scientific Diving Program, and has been actively involved in EPA ocean survey operations since 1998.