Surveying the reefs of the Cayos Cochinos Natural Monument off the coast of Honduras
It was 7AM on Saturday morning at the Banana Republic Guesthouse in La Ceiba where I found myself with eleven other diving enthusiasts on the morning of the first day of our expedition. We had come together from various parts of the world to spend two weeks with Biosphere Expeditions to survey the reefs of the Cayos Cochinos Natural Monument in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Honduras (this part of the Meso-American Barrier Reef, the world’s second largest reef system, and has been identified by the Smithsonian Institute, The Nature Conservancy, the Word Wildlife Fund, and the World Bank as one of the key sections of the barrier reef system to preserve). The purpose of the survey program is to provide data on the current biological status and population levels of protected species of the reefs within the marine protected area for the Honduras Coral Reef Fund (HCRF), the managing agency responsible for the conservation of the islands. All this is part of an international coral reef research program, called the Reef Check monitoring program. The results from the Cayos Cochinos survey will be compared to other parts of the Meso American Barrier Reef System and worldwide in terms of the abundance and diversity of corals, algae, invertebrates, and fish.