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

The biotic components of any ecosystem are sculpted, at least in part, by the abiotic conditions they are exposed to. Understanding the abiotic variables present in a system can therefore provide clues helping to explain patterns in biodiversity, productivity, community composition and more. Located in Honduras’ mainland Tela Bay, Banco Capiro is a newly discovered reef system that boasts one of the highest covers of healthy coral anywhere in the Caribbean. Yet at first glance Tela Bay seems an unlikely candidate for such a natural wonder, thanks to increased turbidity and close proximity to a sizeable human settlement and riverine input. The mystery behind this unique reef system is yet to be fully understood, and this project will quantify a range of abiotic variables to shed light on the conditions Banco Capiro exists under. These data will be combined with in-situ habitat surveys to quantify spatial patterns of reef health, biodiversity and community composition, allowing students to tease apart the relationships between abiotic and biotic variables.

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 combination of ecological survey techniques and abiotic measurements
  • 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

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Preparation

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