This national park is situated on the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The park’s intact coastal ecosystem provides prime habitat for hundreds of species of plants, birds, fish and other marine animals.
As one of the Caribbean's largest marine parks, the park is a nursery for 112 of the Dominican Republic's 303 bird species. Eight species of birds are found only on Hispaniola, including the ashy-faced owl and the Hispaniolan lizard-cuckoo. Four species of sea turtles use the park's shores as nesting sites. Manatees, bottlenose dolphins, numerous fish species and an immense coral reef system live in the park's offshore waters.
Uncontrolled access to the park by fishermen has put an extreme strain on populations of snapper, grouper, conch and lobster. Illegal hunting has also contributed to the extinction of vertebrates such as the Caribbean monk seal. Luxury hotels outside the park's borders are indicators of the expanding tourism industry that increases pressure on coral reefs and other natural resources.
Sections of Las Calderas Bay are off limits to the public to help protect the last intact mangrove forest in the park, spawning grounds for fish and mollusks and habitat for the only frigate bird nesting colony in the Dominican Republic.
Lobster, conch and finfish fisheries are being monitored by Conservancy partner organizations as a way to gauge the health of the marine environment. In addition, "no take" seasons are enforced to allow species breeding and recovery time from fishing pressure. To reduce anchor damage to coral reefs, the Conservancy and its partners installed environmentally sensitive mooring buoys at designated sites in the park.
The Conservancy and its partners are working to unite a coalition of representatives from the private and public sectors to guide conservation planning and management at the government-owned park. The first step is to design a plan to reduce threats to the park's natural resources. If successful, this collaborative model can be replicated in other protected areas of the Dominican Republic and throughout the Caribbean.