by Ariana Pinero

The PR Charms for Charity campaign from 2021 highlighted and supported HJR Reefscaping, a group of marine scientists who treat sick corals in the waters around Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra.

With this campaign, and thanks to all of you that made a PR Charm purchase, we donated $300 for purchasing materials to treat colonies of diseased corals.

Corals are essential to protecting the beaches and for a healthy coastal ecosystem, so when I heard about this project I was eager to get on board! Since my family and I love spending time at the beach, snorkeling the beautiful reefs, and surfing when we can, I was also curious to learn a little more about these sick corals and the treatments that the team at HJR Reefscaping use. I got a chance to ask these questions to Hector Ruiz, Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Executive Director of HJR Reefscaping, and here’s what he had to say:

The name of the disease is called ‘Hard Coral Tissue Loss Disease.’ The disease has been reported in Culebra, Vieques, the east coast of Puerto Rico, on the north coast to Manati, and on the south coast to Ponce. It has not been reported for the west of the island. And it is not known what causes it.

The disease mainly affects brain corals (Meandrina, Pseudodiploria, Diploria, Dendrogyra) and star corals (Montastraea, Orbicella) and was reported in Puerto Rico two years ago.

The corals have been treated with the antibiotic (Amoxicillin) in all areas where the disease has been reported.

Aside from treating sick corals, Hector and his team at HJR Reefscaping also work on coral restoration projects through coral nurseries in the southwest of the island, as well as island restoration, management, and protection (recently Maria Langa, a small mangrove island off the coast of southern Puerto Rico), and reef shark population research.

To learn more about HJR Reefscaping and their projects, check out their website here.