Utila Centre for Marine Ecology
Utila Centre for Marine Ecology was initially established in 2006. Utila Dive Centre was one of the driving forces in creating a non-profit and independent research body on the island of Utila dedicated to environmental research, monitoring and protection. The UCME now bridges the gap between applied scientific research and community based conservation. became a legally constituted Honduran non-governmental organisation in 2009.
Partnering with national and international Universities and regional Institutions, UCME conducts and supports progressive research to further our understanding of marine and island ecosystems and the biodiversity they support.
UCME also offers an exciting volunteer programme where participants work side by side with researchers and conservation specialists assisting in a range of projects investigating the dynamics of coral reefs and reef fisheries, monitoring the population and behaviour of whale sharks and cetaceans and assessing mangrove, seagrass and other tropical island habitats.
Results from UCME research are easily accessible by local organisations, community groups and government agencies to help highlight conservation priorities, identify management requirements and target stakeholder lead initiatives. In so doing, academic science can be understood and used by the people who rely on the integrity of the fragile environment in which they live.
UCME's goal is to develop as a focal point for the investigation of tropical marine biodiversity and since its inception has grown rapidly to build links and collaborative partnerships with many national and international universities, other non-governmental organisations and regional institutions. The heart of UCME's philosophy is that for conservation to succeed, results from research need to be directly applied to education and management initiatives.
The centre now combines cutting edge marine science with exciting volunteer programmes and inspiring educational courses. The UCME volunteer programme provides divers and non-divers alike with the opportunity to learn more about marine ecosystems and to assist national and international researchers as they study the island's wealth of biodiversity, thereby directly contributing to UCME's ongoing research aims.
The Centre currently has projects that focus on evaluating the status of local coral reefs, identifying and evaluating spawning aggregations of important reef fish, developing a pioneering conch hatchery to rehabilitate overfished populations, coordinating a network to monitor coral bleaching, developing alternative livelihoods with fishermen, leading an alert network on invasive lionfish and working to develop sustainable management initiatives for small scale and artisanal fisheries. You can learn more about UCME's mission and projects on their website: www.utilaecology.org.
For our Divemaster candidates on 4-6 weeks internships, there will be opportunities in 2011 to work with and assist UCME survey boats in data collection and marine conservation and to apply the skills that you learn during your Divemaster internship (advanced buoyancy workshops and coral watch studies) with UCME.