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

Understanding how fish move across the surface of a reef is important in answering questions about natural behaviour, resource utilisation, and responses to habitat change. Large-scale fish movements can be recorded using catch/release fishing, tags, and acoustic telemetry, but these methods are unsuitable for fine-scale movement studies where centimetre resolution is needed. These fine-scale movements are often estimated from visual observations, which give a broad overview of fish movement and location, but lacks precision. Over the past ten years, Operation Wallacea has helped pioneer the use of stereo-videography in estimating the length of reef fish, which can then be used to estimate biomass. However, this same method can also be applied to tracking the movement of objects in time and space, and Operation Wallacea are developing this approach to study fine-scale fish movements. Students on this project will be some of the first to ever use this method, and will deploy static stereo-video systems onto areas of coral reef chosen due to their natural habitat features, presence of key territorial species, or to which artificial stimuli will be added. The movement of fish will then be recorded across these areas of reef, allowing the responses of individual species of fish to be explored, and individual territories to be mapped in three dimensions.

Extended Dissertation Summary

If you would like to do a dissertation or thesis with us but your university hasn’t started dissertation planning or the project selection process, that’s no problem. You can cancel your expedition with zero cancellation charges up until the 15th of April of if you provide documentation from your university saying that they won’t support completing a dissertation project with us.

Honduras Marine Research Objectives

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.

  • Develop an independent research project and write a formal proposal
  • Dive on a range of reefs around Utila island
  • Complete a week-long training course on Caribbean coral reef ecology
  • Collect data using behavioural observations from remotely deployed video footage
  • Assist in the method development of a brand-new technique in coral reef ecology
  • 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
  • Utila

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Preparation

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