Yaritza Rivera-Torres: NOAA Marine Debris Hurricane Response Coordinator

Yaritza Rivera

Yaritza Rivera-Torres, marine debris hurricane response coordinator. Permit: DRNA-2020-EPE-003 Credit: Nilda M. Jiménez-Marrero, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Puerto Rico.

Yaritza Rivera-Torres: A Day in the Life Donut chart showing the typical work duties of Yaritza Rivera-Torres, NOAA Marine Debris Hurricane Response Coordinator. Planning and support for marine debris response and removal projects. Pink chart segment spanning 50% of the whole: the percentage of time Yaritza Rivera-Torres spends on Planning and support for marine debris response and removal projects bringing people together to get things done. Green chart segment spanning 25% of the whole: the percentage of time Yaritza Rivera-Torres spends on bringing people together to get things done Data management Blue chart segment spanning 25% of the whole: the percentage of time Yaritza Rivera-Torres spends on Data management Diversity and Inclusion projects Yellow chart segment spanning 12.5% of the whole: the percentage of time Yaritza Rivera-Torres spends on outreach and Diversity and Inclusion projects Daily Duties

Donut chart showing how Yaritza Rivera-Torres, NOAA Marine Debris Hurricane Response Coordinator, spends her time.

Yaritza coordinates long-term response activities related to hurricane-generated marine debris in the Caribbean and other regions.


As a Marine Debris Hurricane Response Coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program (MDP), Yaritza works with NOAA partners to track the removal and disposal processes of marine debris after a hurricane. Her work primarily takes place in the Caribbean, but she also supports the Southeastern U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Islands.

As far back as Yaritza can remember, she’s had a passion for education and environmental protection. “My interest in marine debris prevention developed at a young age,” Yaritza recalls, “when I began noticing litter such as single-use plastic, fishing lines, and even packages from foreign countries on otherwise remote beaches.”

Yaritza says that her work gives her “an incredible sense of purpose.” In addition to making a positive impact in the wake of hurricanes, she has also had the opportunity to work as an educator for Puerto Rico Sea Grant and as a Biology professor. In these capacities, she and her students conducted hands-on activities to learn about the impact of marine debris on Puerto Rico’s coasts. As of this writing, she, her colleagues, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are providing guidance and information about marine debris to school-age girls as they create a series of Spanish-language videos about marine debris to promote the involvement of girls in science.

In addition to the sense of purpose that Yaritza derives from her work, she said that “the caring and supportive MDP staff makes it even more fulfilling.”

  • Name: Yaritza Rivera-Torres
  • Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Education: B.S. Industrial Microbiology; M.S. Biological Oceanography, University of Puerto, Rico Mayagüez Campus.
  • National Ocean Service Program Office: Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R), Marine Debris Program (MDP)

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Last updated:
02/26/21

Author: NOAA

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