SHELTERING PUERTO RICO’S WILDLIFE
From large Leatherback Sea Turtles and Puerto Rican Boas to delicate songbirds and butterflies, the living things that inhabit our evergreen forest, coastal and dune vegetation, beach and sea cliffs are precious reminders of the Trust’s initiatives to protect, conserve, restore and educate. Here are some highlights of our work with native wildlife:
El Pastillo Beach is the nesting habitat for the endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle. With its distinctive leather-looking shell, the Dermochelys coriacea seeks isolated beaches for laying its eggs. Through our monitoring program, we have been able to increase hatching success to 89%, surpassing the average of 65% on other beaches that also have good conditions for nesting.
While our bird inventory stands at 65 species, we are certain that number will grow as we survey and annotate our vibrant bird population. The Puerto Rican Woodpecker, Bananaquit and Stripe-Headed Tanager are among the birds observed in Quebrada El Toro and young secondary forest.
Grey Kingbird, Mockingbird and several species of finch can be sighted in pastures and areas with less vegetation, while the Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret and a wide variety of other shorebirds live at El Pastillo Beach and the rocky promontories. The cliffs of Quebradillas and Isabela are also the main nesting habitat for the White-Tailed Tropicbirds. In February 2013, we sighted an endangered Yellow-Shouldered Blackbird. We hope our next inventory confirms this species as a resident.
The butterfly is the most charismatic creature living at the Trust. Our field inventories have identified nearly 30 species of butterflies, including the endangered Harlequin, Atlantea tulita. We have observed the Harlequin laying eggs in its only host plant, commonly known as Eva Pins. The Trust is proud to be one of the few areas where the Harlequin’s habitat is guaranteed protection. We also believe that we have the largest population of this endangered butterfly in Puerto Rico.