Date(s) - 07/16/2011 - 07/24/2011
Swan Islands, Honduras
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Known as the “Galapagos of the Caribbean,” the reefs surrounding the Swan Islands of Honduras are a biodiversity hotspot teeming with over 500 species of fish and 350 species of mollusk. The Swan Islands are situated at the southern boundary of the Mesoamerican Reef—the Atlantic Ocean’s largest coral reef and a Mission Blue Hope Spot. In July 2011, Mission Blue and the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) at Texas A&M Corpus Christi co-led an expedition with Dr. Earle and a team of scientists, government officials and award-winning photojournalists to these remote islands to raise global awareness of the critical importance of the Mesoamerican Reef and surrounding areas to the overall health of the world’s ocean and to catalyze support for the official declaration of this Hope Spot as a marine protected area (MPA).
“The goal of the July 2011 Mission Blue expedition to the Swan Islands was to explore and document the nature of marinelife in the surrounding waters and to support designation of the islands, known as the ‘Galapagos of the Caribbean,’ as a marine protected area.” – Dr. Sylvia Earle
The Mesoamerican Reef was formed over the last 225 million years and extends from Isla Contoy on the north of the Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands of Honduras. It is the second longest barrier reef in the world and unique in the Western hemisphere due to its length, composition of reef types, and diverse assemblage of corals and related species. It hosts more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk and more than 500 species of fish, including the mammoth whale shark—the largest fish in the world.