• Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

The coral reefs of Banco Capiro in Tela Bay are unusual in that they boast surprisingly high percentage cover of healthy corals, despite historical patterns of intense overfishing. They are also home to one of the last remaining dense populations of a keystone herbivore, the urchin Diadema antillarum. Operation Wallacea scientists have been monitoring Banco Capiro for a number of years, including both benthic video surveys to assess the health of the reef, and stereo-video surveys to quantify not only fish abundance, but also biomass. In early 2018, the Honduran government designated the area as a new marine protected area (MPA), in an attempt to protect such a valuable and unique marine environment. Students on this project will help expand Operation Wallacea’s long-term monitoring efforts to new reef sites around the bay. By using these data in combination with those from previous years before and after MPA designation, questions can be answered on the impact of this new MPA on the reefs of Banco Capiro, and framed within a broader discussion of the pros and cons of MPAs as a conservation tool.

Extended Dissertation Summary

Honduras Marine Research Objectives

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.

  • Develop an independent research project and write a formal proposal
  • Dive on the unique reefs of Banco Capiro in Tela Bay
  • Complete a week-long training course on Caribbean coral reef ecology
  • Learn to identify common Caribbean corals, fish and invertebrates
  • Collect data using a range of ecological survey techniques and cutting edge technology
  • Learn how to organise and analyse large data sets
  • Opwall fee
  • Cost of international flights into and out of San Pedro Sula
  • Cost of internal travel to and from the start and end point of the expedition, plus any hotels you might require. This costs around £200 or $290 on average. Extra nights’ accommodation in San Pedro Sula costs around £49 or $71.
  • Dive equipment rental – £50 or $75 per week for a full dive kit. If you only wish to snorkel and want to hire snorkel equipment, the cost is £25 or $38 per week. Please note that wetsuits/rash vests cannot be provided – you should bring your own.
  • Park entrance fees – £14 or $20
  • PADI manual and PIC card (if you are completing your Open Water qualification) – £69 or $87 approx.
  • Vaccinations and prophylactic medicines – cost can vary depending on your healthcare provider.
  • All prices in GBP or USD unless specified

Climate
Our marine sites are hot and usually dry, but with occasional storms.

Fitness level required
Low. Some fitness is required for in water activities, but conditions are relatively easy.

Creature comforts
Facilities are comfortable but basic. There is phone signal and limited wifi that is often unreliable.

Locations

  • Honduras
  • Tela

Want to get involved with this project?

Preparation

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   Latest from our blog

  • Honduras – Tela Bay is protected!

    Posted on 6th February 2018
    This week we have received some fantastic news from our partners and friends at Tela Marine Research Centre in Honduras! In their first meeting of 2018, the Honduran Congress discussed the creation of ‘El Refugio de Vida Silvestre Marino de Tela’, and...
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  • Honduras – Why fish matter on twilight zone reefs

    Posted on 15th January 2016
    Written by Dominic Andradi-Brown Photos Courtesy of Ally McDowell Feature Image courtesy of Andrew Laverty Fish play many roles on reefs, and can have important effects on corals and algae leading to changes on the reef itself. On Caribbean reefs (such as...
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