Field Workshop Mexico coming soon!
The workshop addresses coral conservation and restoration, especially regarding the endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), but also other coral key species. A theoretical background is given by lectures on coral reproduction, restoration and conservation. We monitor coral spawning and collect spawn at three sites―Limones, La Bocana Chica and Xcaret―and lab work is done at UNAM's Reef Systems Academic Unit and at Xcaret Eco Park Mexico laboratories. Lab work is accomplished in teams and includes fertilization and large-scale coral larvae rearing, as well as settlement of recruits on the same scale.
Our SECORE workshop is a joined effort of main on-site organizer Dr. Anastazia Banaszak and UNAM, Xcaret aquarium, Parque Nacional Arrecife de Puerto Morelos and Parque Nacional Costa Oeste Isla Mujeres Punta Cancun Punta Nizuc (both part of National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, CONANP), Shedd Aquarium, and Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Local engagement is strong and it is further represented by workshop participants from Instituto Nacional de Pesca (INAPESCA) and Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT). Rounding off, participants from national and international universities such as Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Universidad de Guadalajara and Georgia Southern University are joining as well. This year's media and blog team consists of famous SECORE photographer Paul Selvaggio (Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium), journalist Sina Löschke and 'our man in Mexico' Christoph Haacke.
Here we go!
Conservation and restoration efforts are urgently needed at the Riviera Maya, the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Like almost everywhere in the Caribbean, it has faced disturbing changes within the last few decades (Status of Caribbean Coral Reefs, NOAA). Coastal development, followed by land run off and pollution, as well as overfishing, sea-urchin die-offs―killing the gardeners of coral reefs―and coral diseases have led to degraded reefs in many areas. Reef-building species such as the endangered elkhorn and staghorn corals (Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis) have shrunken to alarmingly low numbers. In addition, natural coral recruitment rates are very low to non-existent.
Our workshop is imbedded in a greater nation-wide coral conservation and restoration program (Project Mexico) in close collaboration with UNAM and national stakeholders.