AGRRA and Healthy Reefs Initiative teamed up to host an advanced “Train the Trainer’s” course in May 9-13, 2016 in Akumal, Mexico. Led by AGRRA’s Dr. Judith Lang and Ken Marks, 18 scientists and managers from Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico participated in the learning intensive hands-on field and classroom course. Over the 5 days participants focused on how to train others on the AGRRA sampling and survey methods, indicators of coral reef health, data consistency and accuracy training, online data entry system and the Reef Health Index.
“We were very enthusiastic on finally getting this certification to expand the human resources and capacities of the Mesoamerican Reef countries to do monitoring with AGRRA protocols”, said Marisol Reuda, Healthy Reef’s Mexico Coordinator. The field course was also a unique opportunity for participants from other countries to share their experiences and questions. The trainee benthic and coral trainers also had a first chance to see the feeding scars of a honeycomb cowfish on a large elkhorn coral, especially as the fish was still in the vicinity of the affected colony, said Dr. Judith Lang, Science Coordinator for AGRRA.
The trainers will now return to their countries to train additional members and prepare for the 2016 Field Season. During the summer, the Healthy Reefs Initiative and over 60 partners will team up to survey over 300 coral reef sites along the Mesoamerican Reef. This year will mark the 10th year anniversary that HRI has conducted AGRRA surveys in the Mesoamerican reef. Our teams will also be on high alert to look for corals potentially affected by coral bleaching since this year is predicted to experience elevated sea surface temperatures.