MEXICAN CORAL REEFS
Mexico’s Pacific coast is home to some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, underwater communities that support sharks, turtles, and other marine life. They also support human lives by buffering the coastline from intense storms and providing livelihoods from fishing and tourism. Yet these reefs are imperiled by ocean acidification, more frequent and powerful storms due to climate change, and damage from human overuse.
Teams of volunteer divers will survey up to 40 coral reef sites multiple times a year for several years.
Data That Drives Change
The data we collect will help local authorities and NGOs improve current management practices, consider establishing new protected areas, and help make the reefs more resilient to climate change.
Adventure Scientists is partnering with the Universidad de Guadalajara’s Dr. Paola Rodríguez Troncoso and Dr. Amílcar Cupul Magaña to understand how climate change and human pressure is impacting corals. The project will provide hard data to support policy recommendations that can protect these unique reefs into the future.
In the Field
We’re looking for experienced, conservation-minded divers with access to boats who can commit to at least three dives within a year along the Mexican Pacific coast in the Puerto Vallarta region. Volunteers must have a minimum of 25 logged dives if a PADI certified open water diver,15 if PADI advanced open water diver, and 10 dives if they are a NAUI certified advanced open water diver.
Each volunteer diver will be required to commit to conducting a minimum of three site surveys. Survey sites are clustered, making access to three sites during a single multi-day visit manageable.
At each field site dive teams will swim 5 different 25-meter-long belt transects parallel to the coast. Teams will swim each of the five transects three times to collect the following data:
- Fish surveys – identify fish to species, mark size categories, and estimate ratio of adults to juveniles
- Echinoderm density – count abundance by species across different categories (sea urchins, seastars, and sea cucumbers)
- Habitat assessment – record a video transect for the researchers to analyze
- Vertical contour – measure contour of seafloor
You will record data on underwater tablets, transcribe that data to datasheets, and send them to Dr. Rodriguez.
WHEN & WHERE
Volunteers are required to complete an online training and a 2-day in-person training in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
The online training covers the protocol basics and gives an overview of expected species identification. You will need to dedicate time to memorizing up to 55 species of fish and 21 species of echinoderms before attending the in-person training.
In 2022, in-person trainings led by Dr. Rodríguez are held in Puerto Vallarta on June 11-13 (session full) and November 5-7, 2022. We are still accepting applicants for the November session. These in-person trainings involve both classroom sessions covering theory and sampling strategy and practice dives.
The in-person training is required after completing an online training.
Dive Surveys: Field sites are predetermined and no deeper than ~12 meters. See the map below for dive locations. Dr. Rodríguez will assign precise locations and advise on survey timing and dates during the in-person training. Your surveys will take place after completing the in-person training. The exact dates for your dives will depend on storm cycles, data needs, and your dive skills.
All surveys must take place between 0900 to 1300 or 1500 to 1700.