This unique project is run out of a newly established research facility on the north side of Utila, the smallest of the Bay Islands in Honduras. Located about two miles outside the only town, it is surrounded by tropical broad leaf forest, just a few hundred feet from the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Forming part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest in the world, Utila is growing rapidly as a diving and tourist destination.
This growth threatens the islands delicate eco-systems and has lead to one endemic species of black spiny tailed iguana to be listed in the IUCN red list and on CITES appendix 2 as a critically endangered species. In addition, the island of Utila has received very little attention from the academic world, and is rife with under-studied flora and fauna, as well as suspected new species waiting to be discovered and researched.
The strategies are to:
- Promote research to raise the level of understanding of the islands eco-systems in order to aid conservation efforts and facilitate sustainable development.
- Raise funds to purchase land and create guarded nature reserves.
- Establish a ‘free-to-access’ database of local and relevant research.
- Work with local NGO’s to achieve the above strategies and to assist them with their projects.
It's a complete experience from start to finish. My first week will involve studying research methods, data collection and analysis, species identification, wildlife handling techniques and general introduction to flora and fauna found on the island. I will then get started working in the field alongside experienced scientists. My work will go towards published research, which will be shared amongst the scientific community. My name will be placed on any published articles I helped come to fruition.