So we just completed day one of our Puerto Rican adventure! And it was incredible.
First-As we were driving to Guánica State Forest, we stopped at this site on the side of the road to explore the layering of the volcanic rock in which the island is made of. It is so interesting to think of how the rock we walk on today was made millions of years ago! Now grant it Puerto Rico is geologically young, it is still pretty old. This layering of the rock indicated how it formed and how the island formed.
Second-Guánica State Forest was ok. It is located in the dry orographic rain shadow region of Puerto Rico, which is the driest area of the island. About half of the islands birds and nine of it 16 endemic species of birds are located in Guánica State Forest. The vegetation in the forest is divided into three main groups: upland deciduous, semi-evergreen forest, and scrub forest and gets only about 30 inches of rain per year. You can see the trials which can be taken in the picture. This is the largest of the few remaining sub-tropical dry forest.
We made another quick
stop to Porta Coeli. It is a historical site which the church was the site of the Roman Catholic Church in the Caribbean. The town was established in 1511 and the church was the first site built. Most Hispanic culture has patron saints and a prayer table with the saint’s icon at the center. It is a combination of the native culture with the influence of the Spanish culture which invaded the island. Most of the church has be rebuilt, but there is still some of the structure which is the original.
Thirdly-So we continued our way to go snorkeling out in the coral reefs. This was an eye-opener because I have never snorkeled around coral reefs. We saw many fish and SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation) attached to the coral reefs. These are important geological structures to island.
The reefs in Puerto Rico are “dominated by the reef-building coral taxa, Montastraea annularis (complex), Agaricia agaricites, Montastraea cavernosa, Porites asteroides and Colpophyllia natans. These are the major contributors to reef accretion, and are often the most conspicuous corals found in shallow water” (http://www.uprm.edu/biology/cjs/reefstatuspdf.pdf). The previous statement I added to help highlight the importance of the reefs to the Puerto Rican
physical geography. The death of the coral leads to a huge environmental and geological impact forcing the coral’s inhabitants to relocate or die off.
After the reefs, we came back for a quick bite then back out to the Phosphorescent Bay to swim in. This unique bay contains up to 720,000 single-celled bioluminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water. These half-plant, half-animal organisms emit a flash of bluish light when agitated at night. The dinoflagellates are a large group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton, but they are common in fresh water habitats as well. Their populations are distributed depending on temperature, salinity, or depth. About half of all dinoflagellates are photosynthetic, and these make up the largest group of marine eukaryotic algae aside from the diatoms. Being primary producers makes them an important part of the aquatic food chain.
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