UT Students Go Underwater to Study Honduran Coral Reefs

Published: Jun 14, 2012
The students conducted research projects in their two weeks in Roatán.
The students conducted research projects in their two weeks in Roatán.
They studied fish behavior, competition between reef coral and reef algae, and refish ecology.
They studied fish behavior, competition between reef coral and reef algae, and refish ecology.
Two UT May graduates missed some commencement festivities to study in Honduras.
Two UT May graduates missed some commencement festivities to study in Honduras.
The last two weeks of the UT coral reefs course were taught underwater.

The 16 students who enrolled in the travel course spent spring semester learning about coral reef ecosystems, including their biology and ecology, studying the process of regrowth as well as identification of Caribbean fish species.

But the last two weeks from May 6 to 20, when they exchanged Smartboards for scuba gear, the students traveled to Roatán, Honduras, for total academic immersion.

“They really got to see where science and scuba meet,” said Assistant Professor Mark McRae. “It’s challenging, and this trip gives you a sense of that.”

While in Honduras, the students developed hypotheses, collected data and analyzed it in a culminating research project. They studied fish behavior, competition between reef coral and reef algae, and refish ecology.

“This course gives the students an idea of what it’s like to be a coral reef ecologist and you can’t do that without traveling and without getting in the water for two weeks,” said McRae.