Coral restoration has become incredibly popular in recent years as a way of restoring degraded coral reefs. The unfortunate reality of them is that whilst restoration groups put a large amount of time and energy into growing corals and outplanting them to reef areas, most monitoring focuses solely on the survivorship of the outplanted corals. Whilst this is important to track the feasibility of coral growth areas and the suitability of outplanting areas, it does not provide any information about the effect that the restoration is having for the surrounding reef and organisms that interact with it. This project is therefore being developed to gain some insight into the positive impact on the reef ecosystem of the ongoing coral restoration project in Akumal managed by local NGOs and dive centres. The project also aims to generate a standardized monitoring protocol that can be used by local partners for monitoring outside of the Operation Wallacea field seasons.
Data will be collected by diving along 50m transect lines at restoration sites and a series of control sites on the Akumal reefs. Coral coverage, species composition and health can be assessed using benthic video surveys where data are collected using underwater cameras and analysis is performed outside of the water (where species IDs can be confirmed with academic support and ID guides). Fish can be monitored using underwater visual census (UVS) and belt transect surveys cab be used for key indicator species of invertebrates. As outplanting areas can be quite large, and with an individual coral altering the benthic structure and composition so little on such an expensive area, doing stratified HAS analysis with quadrats along the transect line would give a picture of the smaller scale alterations in rugosity and live cover that would likely be missing from individual transect lines.
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.
At the marine site, the research is focussed on assessing the efficacy of the newly formed Akumal marine protected area on the abundance and health of seagrasses and the impact of snorkel tours on the abundance, health and behaviour of sea turtles. Research also aims to monitor the combined impacts of water quality and turtle grazing on the abundance and health of the seagrass ecosystem. In addition, students will have the chance to work alongside our team at Akumal Dive Center to complete their PADI open water dive training and complete a Caribbean reef ecology course in which they will learn about the major conservation issues with Caribbean reefs and will participate in variety of techniques for coral reef monitoring.
Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.
In Mexico it is hot and humid. Temperatures rarely drop below mid 20s even at night. It is unlikely to rain much, but you do get occasional heavy showers during the season.
Fitness level required
Medium in the forest, low on the marine site. There are some reasonably long walks through the forest, terrain varies by camp with some being almost completely flat and others more undulating. On the marine site lower levels of fitness are required (although you will likely be very tired at the end of the day after the in-water sessions).
Facilities in the forest are basic (sleeping in tents or hammocks in a camp site), with a mixture of dry and trench toilets. There are freshwater showers but water conservation is particularly important to bear in mind. There are some limited opportunities to buy snacks at some forest camps and there is no phone signal at any of the sites. On the marine site the facilities are a little less rustic – you sleep in bunk beds in dormitories about 10 minutes drive from the beach. There is good phone signal and the site is well supplied with shops.