Diving Vikings

A group of Berry students recently explored new depths in their Coral Reef Ecology class.

The class is a field-oriented marine course that allows students, through the use of SCUBA, to explore the pristine reefs and drop-offs that surround the Bay Island of Roatan, Honduras. During this class, Biology Professor Bill Davin takes students on an intensive, field-oriented excursion to the Roatan Institute of Marine Science where they investigate the coral reef biome, including corals, invertebrates, fishes, algae, and rooted macrophytes.

One of the major components of this year’s course, was an emphasis on Coral Restoration.  Enough money was raised through the BerryFunder site to purchase five coral nursery trees from the Coral Restoration Foundation in Florida and have them shipped to Roatan.  The students assembled the trees and helped with their placement in the protected waters near the Roatan Institute of Marine Science.  Once the trees were added to the existing nursery, the students helped to add coral fragments to the new trees and clean algae from some of the existing tree.  The goal is to have these newly acquired fragments grow large enough so that they can be planted on the reef when the class returns in 2020. 

While in Roatan, students are introduced to a number of topics, including reef ecology, fish behavior, dolphin biology, and reef organism identification in classroom lectures then head out to the reef and study the subject in a natural setting. In addition, the students become certified level II fish observers through the Reef Environmental Education Foundation and conduct coral surveys for ReefAware. Through these first-hand experiences, students develop an understanding and appreciation for the ecology of the coral reef and for the biology of the common coral reef organisms found in the Caribbean Sea.

To view some of the daily activities of students who engaged in the 2018 Coral Reef Ecology course, click on dates below.