Coral saved near damaged freighter off Puerto Rico

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 04, 2012 22:31 hrs

The U.S. Coast Guard says specialists are transplanting coral at risk from a freighter grounded just off an uninhabited island near Puerto Rico.

Crews with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have removed and reattached nearly 1,000 pieces of coral threatened by the 202-foot-long freighter.

Guard crews said Tuesday they plan to refloat the damaged ship and sink it at a depth of 600 feet after removing parts to increase buoyancy.

The Honduran-flagged ship ran aground June 21 on remote Mona Island, which is a nature reserve. Thousands of gallons of oily water have been safely removed.

Guard investigators have not been able to locate the owner of the freighter. Some 60 illegal Haitian migrants were found on the ship. They told authorities they were headed to St. Martin.

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