Marine Conservation Programs
We are dedicated to preserving and protecting our magnificent marine ecosystems. Our organization is committed to making a positive impact on the delicate balance of marine life in the stunning archipelago of Cayos Cochinos.
Coral Rescue & Restoration
To preserve and protect coral reefs in the face of numerous threats, a coral restoration project has been launched in the CCANMM. It includes various nurseries and over 500 coral fragments of the Acropora cervicornis species. The program has evolved significantly, using more resilient materials and improved structures. Volunteers assist in activities such as cleaning structures, monitoring and maintaining fragments, and collecting data. Previous coral restoration experience is desired but not required. Additionally, staff members have been trained in advanced techniques like coral microfragmentation and assisted sexual coral reproduction.
Lionfish Containment & Dissections
Lionfish, an invasive species in the Caribbean originating from the Indo-Pacific, pose a significant threat to coral reef ecosystems. Due to their invasiveness, they are not recognized as prey by native predators, allowing them to freely feed on a variety of marine life. They have decimated populations of algae grazers, further impacting vulnerable reefs. Additionally, their high reproductive rate contributes to their population growth. To address this issue, a lionfish containment program has been established to remove these predators from the reefs and understand their impact. Training is provided to individuals interested in becoming lionfish spearers, and humane and efficient removal methods are employed. Dissections are conducted to examine the stomach contents of the lionfish and gather information on their feeding habits, age, and developmental stage. This knowledge will aid in making informed management decisions for this invasive species within the Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Monitoring & Conservation
Since 1998, sea turtles in Cayos Cochinos have been studied under the management of the Honduras Coral Reef Fund (HCRF) as part of a Research and Conservation Program. The focus has been on hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), the only species recorded nesting in the area. These medium-sized turtles have distinctive features such as a hawk-like beak and thick shell shields. They nest primarily on Cayo Menor, followed by Cayo Mayor and the coral cays. Hawksbill turtles lay multiple clutches of around 150 eggs, with an average interval of 17 days, and do not return to nest for several years. Their diet consists mainly of organisms associated with coral reefs, with sponges being a common food source. These turtles mature slowly, taking between 20 to 40 years to reach sexual maturity.
As a volunteer researcher, you can assist in monitoring activities on the beaches and islands, including night and day patrols. The protocol involves recording turtle data, such as morphometric characteristics, nesting behavior, and biophysical characteristics of nesting beaches. You will also learn how to perform tagging using steel tags assigned by the WIDECAST Sea Turtle Tagging Program. Additionally, under controlled conditions and supervision, you can participate in egg handling activities in an incubation pen, recording parameters like temperature and humidity, monitoring the hatching process, and documenting hatchling morphometrics and mortality data.
Our Mangrove Restoration project was born through the local Garífuna community initiative after realizing how important these ecosystems are when it comes to the protection of coastlines and therefore their own homes.
A greenhouse was built with the help of the community and currently holds over 250 plantules that we expect to outplant on the shores in front of the East End Garífuna community so they can continue to offer protection to the shores and fulfilling ecological functions.
SCTLD Monitoring & Treatment
One identified threat that has affected up to 30% of more than 20 species of coral in the Caribbean is Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD).
Fish Spawning Aggregation Sites Monitoring
We are currently trying to validate multiple FSA sites in order to begin monitoring and assessments.