Although on opposite sides of the world, Puerto Rico and Guam share similarities in both political status and natural resources as tropical island U.S. Territories. Dr. Austin Shelton of the University of Guam Sea Grant Program recently visited the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Along with other Sea Grant Programs from Hawai‘i, Florida, and Puerto Rico, Shelton discussed opportunities to share expertise among programs and collaborate on common interests.
The inaugural ‘Tropical/Sub-tropical Regional Sea Grant Workshop,’ allowed various program representatives to present issues affecting their local coral reefs, fisheries, and coastal water quality. The four programs face similar climate-change-related challenges from storm hazards, rising sea levels, and warming sea surface waters. Participants agreed to continue discussions and to collaborate on opportunities to address coastal issues unique to the islands and Florida.
“Action items determined at the workshop will hopefully lead to increased attention and funding for coastal issues specific to tropical and subtropical areas,” said Dr. Darren Okimoto, Associate Director of the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program and Principal Investigator of the grant that supported the workshop. Okimoto further stated, “We were delighted to have Dr. Austin Shelton represent Guam at the workshop. As one of the newer Sea Grant programs, UOG Sea Grant is already making an impact through it activities and is showing a lot of potential to continue growing and providing important research, extension, and education services for the people of Guam.”
During a night-time boat visit to a bioluminescent bay in La Parguera where small plankton light up the water like fireflies, Hawai‘i and Puerto Rico counterparts shared their knowledge of the stars and constellations above. At 18 degrees North, Puerto Rico is at a slightly higher latitude than Guam at 13 degrees. Dr. Shelton mentioned, “it was neat seeing the North Star a little higher on the horizon in Puerto Rico. Even though we’re so far apart, we share the same sky, and many of the same coastal issues. It’s a good reminder on the importance of working together, especially on global climate change issues.”
The National Sea Grant College Program is a partnership between universities and the Federal Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency within the Department of Commerce. The Sea Grant network includes more than 3,000 scientists, engineers, public outreach experts, educators, and students. Based in the UOG Cooperative Extension & Outreach Service, UOG Sea Grant brings the science of coastal resources to Guam’s people as one of 33 programs across the nation. To learn more about University of Guam Sea Grant, see www.cnas-re.uog.edu.