This project will take place at both the Opwall marine research sites on Utila island and on the mainland at Tela. If you are not dive trained, then the first week will be spent completing a PADI Open Water dive training course. If you are already dive trained then you would start with a Caribbean reef ecology and survey techniques course which would teach you the main species of fish, macroinvertebrates and corals likely to be encountered. Those who did dive training in the first week would do this course in their second week. For the rest of the expedition you will circulate between a series of marine research projects including 3D modelling of reefs to determine structural complexity, stereo-video surveys of fish communities, macroinvertebrate transects, behaviour studies on invasive lionfish, examining ways in which sea urchin populations could be restored and many other projects. During the expedition, you should complete 60 dives and could also gain some additional dive qualifications in your spare time (at an additional cost) and be working on the various marine research projects.
In the Caribbean, there are a number of core issues that have been affecting the biodiversity of the coral reefs – including the mass mortality of keystone sea urchins that have allowed algal colonisation of reef areas, an invasive species originally from the Indo-Pacific (lionfish) that acts as a predator on reef fish which has been spreading across the Caribbean, and overfishing of reef fish by local communities. Opwall has two monitoring sites in Honduras: one is on the island reefs of Utila and the second on the coastal barrier reef of Tela. At both sites, teams of Opwall scientists and students collect annual monitoring data to assess temporal patterns of ecosystem change, alongside novel research to address key management priorities and gaps in our current understanding of tropical marine coastal ecosystem function.
Our marine sites are hot and usually dry, but with occasional storms.
Fitness level required
Low – Moderate. Some fitness is required for in water activities, but conditions are relatively easy.
Facilities are comfortable but basic. There is phone signal and limited wifi that is often unreliable.