What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
During my time with the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center (WSORC), I developed an understanding of the fragile relationship between many of the organisms living on and around the coral reefs of Utila. After learning to identify and understand these organisms, as well as important natural features for coastal protection such as mangroves, I was able to assist in teaching conservation interns both in the classroom and underwater. Throughout the month the interns were here, I could see their understanding and passion for marine stewardship grow and it was incredibly rewarding.
It’s been an action-packed month since my last post. I’ve been on more lionfish hunts, finished reviewing surveys for a fisheries research project with my colleague, and I’m 2 days shy of completing my divemaster certification!
Utila is a small island, totaling only 17 sq. kilometers, off the Caribbean coast of Honduras. This island is the smallest of the three main Bay Islands. Utila is famous for being a whale shark “hot spot”, a location where whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, have been sighted year-round. The waters around the island boast a high concentration of marine biodiversity largely due to the surrounding Mesoamerican Reefs that are a part of the second-largest reef system in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef.