Utila, Honduras forms part of the Mesoamerican Reef System that stretches along the eastern coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
At just over 1,000km (620 miles), the Mesoamerican Reef is less than half the length of the Great Barrier Reef, but proudly the second largest reef system in the world.
It supports around 500 species of fish, 350 species of mollusks, and 65 species of corals, and is frequently visited by some of the most magnificent marine creatures, including the Whale Sharks.
In addition, the Mesoamerican Reef supports a large portion (if not all) of the economies of the adjacent countries. Directly providing sustenance and livelihood for around 2 million people.
Regionally, the health of this reef system has been declining steadily over the years. One of the major factors in this decline has been the loss of coral cover and how 1/3 of the coral species in the area are threatened, and about 1 in 8 species will face extinction.
In response to these facts, Utila Coral was born. What initially started as a project aimed at recovering the populations of threatened coral species on Utila has now evolved into a foundation, whose scope and scale of work continue to grow with time.
The Utila Coral Foundation exists to conduct marine research focusing on coral restoration and reef health. In addition, our goal is to provide the means and space for national and international scientists to carry out important studies and develop projects for the conservation of Honduran and regional reefs.
Our first objective is to continue to establish coral nurseries in order to restore reefs and populations of coral species classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "threatened" or "critically endangered."
REEF HEALTH MONITORING
Our second objective is to carry out reef health monitoring programs and collect important data that can be used by the administrative bodies of the National Marine Park and other NGOs that work for conservation in the Bay Islands.
Our third objective is to create a laboratory that allows national and international scientists to carry out research projects on oceanography, reef mapping, wildlife study, reef health study, development of coral larvae, and other topics.
Our fourth objective is the education and training of Honduran youth, helping them develop skills and knowledge about the marine environment, research techniques, and diving as well as snorkeling skills.
Our fifth objective is to develop relationships with organizations, individuals, universities, and institutions dedicated to marine conservation and research that establish research projects and develop strong ties with the local scientific and conservation community.