U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
Banner graphic displaying the Fish & Wildlife Service logo and National Wildlife Refuge System tagline

Desecheo
National Wildlife Refuge


Much of the rocky terrain is covered by a native forest adapted to a dry climate. Large gumbo limbo trees are common. Cactus forms a part of the thorny scrub vegetation.
PO Box 510
BoquerĂ³n, PR   00622
E-mail: caribbeanisland@fws.gov
Phone Number: 787-851-7258
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
http://www.fws.gov/caribbean/desecheo
Much of the rocky terrain is covered by a native forest adapted to a dry climate. Large gumbo limbo trees are common. Cactus forms a part of the thorny scrub vegetation.
Gray horizontal line
  Overview
Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge
Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge The island of Desecheo is located 14 miles west of Puerto Rico and is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south. The refuge encompasses the entire rugged island. From 1940 to 1952 the island was used as a practice target for aerial bombardment by the US War Department and from 1952 to 1960 Desecheo was used as a survival training area for the U.S. Air Force. Although formerly containing a colony of 15,000 brown boobies and 10,000 red-footed boobies, currently no successful booby breeding is known to occur on the island.

Other seabird species also use the island. There are three endemic species of lizards. An endangered cactus is found on the island and hawksbillturtles sometimes nest on the refuge. Feral goats became established on the island in the 1700's. Nopublic use is allowed on the island because of safety considerations associated with unexploded ordnance that remain on the refuge. The refuge has had a colorful past. In 1966, the National Institutes of Health introduced 56 rhesus monkeys to be later culled for medical research. Desecheo is often used as a drop off point for illegal aliens and drugs.


Getting There . . .
Not Applicable.

horizontal line

Wildlife and Habitat

At one time, the largest Brown booby nesting colony in the world; today, no seabird nesting takes place on the island. The native forest (wich includes the endangered Higo Chumbo cactus) has been severely degraded by introduced rats, goats, and monkeys.

Learn More>>


History
The island has seen many custodians over the years, includind Spain, Puerto Rico, the U.S. military (bombing and survival training), National Institute of Health (introduced rhesus monkeys for medical research), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Learn More>>

    Note
This refuge is close due to the presence of unexploded military ordnance.




Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Learn More >>




Management Activities
Management is currently limited to law enforcement, feral animal control, and bird and plant surveys.