Utila and Tela marine biodiversity research
Your expedition you will be based either at the Tela Marine Research Centre on the Honduran mainland or at the Coral View Research Centre on Utila Island and the focus will be on Caribbean coral reef ecology and conservation. You will begin with some training, starting with the opportunity to complete a PADI Open Water dive training course if you would like to learn and aren’t already qualified, followed by a compulsory Caribbean reef ecology and marine survey techniques course with practicals done by diving or snorkelling. These are Opwall’s largest marine research sites and are home to our pioneering efforts to integrate technological solutions into the monitoring and study of coral reefs, including our 3D computer modelling method, use of robots to survey reefs beyond the limits of SCUBA diving, and stereo-video fish surveys to estimate biomass. Once you have completed your training, if you are staying longer you will join these projects and work alongside the teams of researchers leading them, giving you hands on experience collecting valuable data from coral reefs.
In the Caribbean, there are a number of core issues that have been affecting the biodiversity of coral reefs, including the mass mortality of keystone sea urchins that have allowed algal colonisation of reef areas, an invasive predator (lionfish) originally from the Indo-Pacific that has spread across the Caribbean, and overfishing of reef fish by local communities. Opwall has two marine research sites in Honduras where these issues and many more are studied: 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 in reef community health, alongside novel research to address key conservation priorities and gaps in our current understanding of these fragile ecosystems. Honduras is also home to Opwall’s pioneering efforts to integrate technological solutions into the monitoring and study of coral reefs, including our 3D computer modelling method. Opwall’s team of marine scientists in Honduras helps to support not only international academic research and new method development, but also supports local non-governmental organisations with their efforts to improve marine conservation in Honduras.
Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.
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.