2015 Coral Reef Conservation Discovery Week
The Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Center (WSORC) has announced their 2015 Coral Reef conservation discovery week . This year the program will be held August 28 to September 4 at their research center at Sandy Bay on Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras. The official name of the program is the Coral Reef Spawning & Marine Conservation Program and it is scheduled to match the peak period of coral spawning. The Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Center (WSORC) is a not profit organization in Honduras. It operates one of the few whale sharks monitoring and research centers in the world that operated year round. The Bay Islands is known to have both resident and often migratory whale sharks in the waters around the islands. The WSORC is also one of the few centers that have a permanent permit to conduct research in the area and is the clearing house for all issues concerning whale sharks. They help coordinate research projects and ensure that information is passed to the proper government department in an expedited means.
During the year the center has a number of different discovery weeks. Their flagship project is the Whale Shark & Marine Conservation Program, which will be held six times in 2015. The program involves the participants in some of the research projects being conducted by the center. The week long program includes a series of lectures and workshops covering various aspects of marine conservation in Utila. These will be followed by practical application dives and excursions to experience and put to practical use what is being covered during the lectures. Marine species identification is a portion of the lectures as is aspects of the centers whale shark identification project.
While the Coral Reef Spawning & Marine Conservation Program is held only one a year because of the short time the coral spawn it is still an important project for the center. The research being conducted is becoming more important as we see coral reefs being affected by global warming. Little is really known about this method of reproduction used by coral. While coral can reproduce asexually, the spawning method allows a dissipation of the new coral larvae over larger areas. ¾ of the stony corals use a broadcast method of spawning. A cloud of male and female gametes are released into the water at the same time. These microscopic materials are positively buoyant and float to the surface where they make reproductive contact. Currents carry the resulting larvae away to be deposited on the oceans strata. One of the amazing and lightly understood traits of this event is that it happens simultaneously over a very wide area. Participants are given lectures about the ongoing studies and participate in the research dives.
For anyone interested in coral studies this is a unique change to turn a dive vacation into a learning event.