Underwater Interpretative Pathway of Isla Ratones
Isla Ratones (Mice Island), near the town of Cabo Rojo in Southern Puerto Rico, is set to open an exciting Underwater Interpretative Pathway. The community of Isla Ratones, together with a local marine biologist and environmentalist organization, Caborrojeños Pro Salud y Ambiente, is developing an innovative educational adventure that will provide a guided, controlled snorkeling experience for both adults and children.
The Underwater Interpretative Pathway will run a distance of about 50 feet with the depth never exceeding six feet, making it perfect for young children to enjoy. Wearing snorkeling masks, visitors can expect to see ten coral banks with labels to identify the diverse marine life, including lobsters, octopuses, marine worms, starfish, anemones and a wide variety of colorful fish.
The underwater adventure will start with a short game of “Guess My Name”, which is designed to familiarize participants with the many living underwater creatures they may encounter on their trip. This will be followed by a lesson on snorkeling with tips on underwater etiquette. After the training, and under strict supervision, participants will begin their underwater adventure. Ten buoys and interconnected ropes will mark the area of the artificial reef, which is completely removable and designed to have no negative impact on the existing coral. Future plans include the building of a boardwalk to allow people with disabilities access to enjoy the Underwater Interpretive Pathway from a different perspective.
Marine biologist Ana M. Trujillo designed the Underwater Interpretative Pathway, which came about through the collective efforts of the local community of Isla Ratones. It is estimated that the project would have cost more than $10,000, however through financial and in-kind donations from the community, the cost has been kept down to $250. This project is an excellent example of the positive results that can be achieved through community co-operation.
Caborrojeños Pro Salud y Ambiente was founded in 1990 by a group of local residents who wanted to uplift the community of Cabo Rojo. With the help of the local government, this group has been actively involved in the preservation of Isla de Ratones, which had been subject to significant erosion over a number of decades. Caborrojeños Pro Salud y Ambiente undertook the planting of mangroves to halt the erosion and launched a project to repopulate the coral population.
The dedicated efforts of Caborrojeños Pro Salud y Ambiente and the local community have resulted in Isla de Ratones becoming a popular snorkeling destination. The Underwater Interpretive Pathway will be an added attraction to this already popular part of Puerto Rico.