SAN JUAN – Ninety percent of beaches studied by a team from the University of Puerto Rico suffered the loss of their sand dunes in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to a report released Monday.
UPR professors and students documented the loss of dunes across and area extending from the southern city of Salinas to Ceiba on the island’s western coast.
The team carried out their inspections under the auspices of the Beaches of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Network, headed by UPR marine geologist Maritza Barreto Orta.
“The purpose of the visits, beyond seeing the damage, is to try to define the state of the beaches after Hurricane Maria. This with the aim of understanding the effects of extreme weather events, in this case a near-Category 5 hurricane,” Barreto Orta said.
One finding that has emerged from the study is that the erosion caused by Maria “reduces the capacity of these beaches and these coasts to absorb the new events to come,” she said.
Maria slammed into this US commonwealth on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 250 km/h (155 mph).