Friday, January 12, 2018

Playa Sosua: Sosua Marine Park

Not all the visitors of Sosua beach (Playa Sosua) know that it is inside a National Park called "Parque Tematico de Atracciones Submarinas de Sosua" or "Santuario Marino de Sosua".
The Park was created  with the Decree of Law n. 634-05 of November 22, 2005 and it is managed by an authority called "Patronato del Parque Tematico de Atracciones Submarinas de Sosua" . The park created a protected area around Playa Sosua for conservation porpuses: to protect the exceptional marine fauna and flora of Sosua Bay from pollution, intensive fishing and excessive touristic exploitation causing habitat losse, disturbing marine recreational activities and extraction of coastal and marine resources.
Many ecosystems are found within Sosua Marine Park including sandy beaches, rocky shores, coral reefs, sea grass beds, estuaries and mangroves: these habitats host a large marine and terrestrial biodiversity ehich needs protection!
The Sosua Marine Park covers the whole Sosua Bay from Punta Sosua (West) to Arroyo la Punta (East) including Sosua Beach, and Sosua River Bay.

The most visited area pof the park is of course Playa Sosua: its white sand is composed mainly by coral reef originated materials, its westward position protects it from predominant North East winds and currents.
White sand and crystalline waters of Playa Sosua

The Sosua Bay ecosystems include Sea Grass  Bed rich of Halodule, Syringodium and Thalassia which are used as feed by large vertebrates such as  sea turtles and Manati, loss of these beds cause sand erosion and damage the whole ecosystems depriving herbivores of their feed and carnivores of their prey.
Another amazing ecosystem of Sosua Bay is the Coral Reef:  it is located at a depth from 2 to 30 meters and its most accessible part is right in front of Playa Sosua and it hosts wonderful corals such as  Acropora palmata, Agaricia  agaracites, Agaricia lamarckiana, Madracis mirabilis, Diploria stingosa, Porites porites,  Porites divaricata and others.

Acropora Palamata coral reef of Playa Sosua

Diploria Stingosa coral reef of Playa Sosua

It is important to remember that visitors of the most accessible part of the reef in front of Playa Sosua should not feed the fishes  and should not damage the corals and should not remove anything from the reef. Likewise all visitors of the beach should at least do their best to keep the beach clean without living trash in the sand which would eventually end up in the sea polluting the ecosystem.

Some of the fishes that can be seen in the coral reef are: sargentos (Abudefduf saxatilis), labridos
(Thalassoma & Halichoeres), bocayates,  (Haemulon flavolineatum), cabrillas (Cephalopholis
fulvus), pargos (Lutjanus apodes) and some species of sharks icluding Carcharhinus,and Ginglymostoma cirratum, (Nurse Shark). Usually sharks stay far from the coast hunting in deep waters (the Sosua bay is as deep as 280 meters at the north border of the park, however once and exceptionally I could see a small Nurse Shark by the beach of Playa Sosua:

Nurse Shark close to Playa Sosua

 Abudefduf Sectalis (sargentos) coral reef of Playa Sosua

 Acanthurus coeruleus (surgeon fish) coral reef of Playa Sosua

Video of the coral reef in front of Playa Sosua

Another special ecosystem of Sosua Marine Park is Sosua River mouth: a very important  reproductive habitat for many species which is unfortunately very polluted because of  indiscriminate dumping of polluted waters and of waste waters in its bed.I have recently visited the mouth of the Sosua river (December 2017) and its waters are indeed dirty as you can see from the picture below, I believe that this issue needs to be addressed soon and in a more decisive manner for the heath of the Marine Park of Sosua.

 Sosua River: mouth of the river with waters entering Sosua Bay

The Sosua River bay and its beach are wonderful, they need to be cleaned and soon this could become another  woderful place to visit in Sosua.

 Sosua River: mouth of the river with waters entering Sosua Bay