May 17-29, 2005
The Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean is the second largest coral reef system in the world, hosting crystal blue waters and a colorful display of coastal biodiversity. In Honduras, the integrity of this reef ecosystem is affected by human overpopulation, poor waste-management, tourism, natural disasters, and many other factors. This course focuses on the human and natural forces that degrade reef systems and the challenges faced by local conservation attempts to protect them. We will explore coral reef ecology and community dynamics. Promises and pitfalls of marine protected areas, reef monitoring programs, environmental education, ecotourism, community-based conservation, and complex human dimensions to conservation on islands are some of the topics we will study. Meetings with local non-profit and government representatives as well as group and individual research and community based projects will be the basis of our field work. SCUBA is not required, though opportunities for diving will be available at students’ expense.