As I've written in previous posts, for the last year and a half, I've been swept up in questions surrounding the unexpected health of the coral in the bay of Tela in Honduras. In May, I returned with Heather Kuhlken and Tiffany Duong, and they were just as blown away as I was.
We realized that in the twelve years or so since the reef had been discovered, very little scientific work had been done to understand what makes this reef tick. Some work has been done to map the reef and assess it's coral, but the underlying questions about why there's so little disease, why extremely endangered species of coral thrive, and why bleaching is so minimal have not been addressed.
Also, even with the successful outreach the reef co-manager Antal Borcsok, and his vision for building the only public aquarium in Central America, TelaMarine, which showcases the importance of a healthy reef, threats still lurk. A few years ago, a mining company nearly set up operations on a nearby river, which would have swamped the reef in a year. If no one knows a healthy reef is there, how will it be protected? The story of Tela's coral needs more amplification.
That's how ACT was born: with an unparalleled reef below our masks and aims to keep it safe on our minds. We came up with a name: Amigos de los Corales de Tela, which had an excellent acronym. After that, we incorporated, received our 501(c)3 status, and opened a bank account. In early October, we took our first official scientific excursion, planting fifty coral settling tiles on the reef during what we hope was the coral spawn. (More on that here.) We also wrote our first grant (fingers-crossed!) and launched our website (please, check it out!).
Much more to come on this exciting endeavor! I really hope you'll follow along.