Mona Island

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Mona Island is located 42 miles west of Puerto Rico in a passage between this island and the Dominican Republic, at latitude N 18° 03' 8" and longitude W 067° 51' 57". Environmentally the island is surrounded by a narrow insular platform and deep waters. Evidence of human habitation is present from pre-Columbian times. During the early years of the European colonization of the New World, the Mona Passage became one of the most important maritime routes between the Old and New Worlds, with constant ship traffic. Its strategic position was also used by pirates as a hideout and place to lay in wait for potential prizes. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, about 64 known shipwrecks were recorded around the island. The great potential for underwater archaeological sites in this Natural Reserve was demonstrated in a study conducted by Richard Fontánez in 1999.

The project, which covered 7.5 kilometers of coast, yielded 4 shipwreck sites and 31 anchors from all periods of the New World's history. In the 21st century, the pressure of treasure hunting has not stopped to grow, given the technological advances made during the last few decades.

The impact of such an activity is detrimental to the cultural and natural resources of this reserve, since many of its archaeological sites double as artificial reefs. The growing interest in recreational diving around Mona, if not managed properly, will have a negative impact on its archaeological resources. Mona's archaeological register is rich, invaluable, and part of the historical patrimony of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and the World. Given its importance, the creation of an inventory of its archaeological and environmental resources is indispensable as a managerial tool to protect this irreplaceable cultural and environmental resource.

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