This project is based at both the Opwall marine research sites: Utila Island and on the mainland at Tela. The time spent at each site will depend on the projects running in the weeks you are on site. If you are not dive trained already then your first week will be completing a PADI Open Water dive training course. For those already dive trained or wishing only to snorkel then in your first week you would start with the Caribbean reef ecology and survey techniques course with lectures and twice daily in water practicals either by diving (if qualified) or snorkelling. Those who completed the dive training course in their first week will do this course in their second week. For the remaining weeks on site then you would be working with the marine researchers on activities including survey and analysis of stereo-video data to quantify fish communities, behavioural studies on fish and invertebrates, 3D modelling of reefs to quantify structural complexity, macroinvertebrate transect surveys and other projects. You should complete 40 dives or more on this expedition and be familiar with most of the Caribbean coral and fish species. If desired, additional PADI dive training can be done in your spare time, at an additional cost.
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.