ENVIRONMENT
07/19/2011 07:40 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2011

Swan Islands Expedition With Dr. Sylvia Earle: Day Two (PHOTOS)

From the Sylvia Earle Alliance:

Yesterday, Dr. Sylvia Earle, world-renowned oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence, founder of Mission Blue and 2009 TED Prize Winner, completed her first dive in the Mesoamerican Reef off the coast of the Swan Islands. Located 90 miles off the coast of Honduras, this region of the ocean, called a “hope spot” by Dr. Earle, is critical to the overall health of the ocean system due to its incredible biodiversity. Earle and her team are working in close collaboration this week with local scientists and government officials from Honduras to help save this area from further destruction by advocating for its official declaration as a marine protected area (MPA).

Yesterday, the expedition team enjoyed a hike through the Swan Islands where they captured photos of the native wildlife found in the area. In addition to exploration on land, the team completed a series of dives in the reefs surrounding the islands, where they documented the health of marine life, specifically looking at fish count and diversity and reef conditions.

Dr. Earle shares her experience and findings from yesterday’s dive with The Huffington Post Green:

“Well, today was my first experience taking a look at the underwater scenery of the Swan Islands. There are plenty of reasons for hope here. The diversity of fish we saw today was above normal, but the actual count of fish was below, way below normal from my experience elsewhere. I think it has suffered from over-fishing, something I’m seeing in many “hope spots” around the world. This area has also been right in the cross hairs of a number of major hurricanes in the last decade or so, including Mitch, which really cut a swath through this part of the world. Storms are natural, and a healthy robust ocean system can, in some ways, bend with the storms and come out afterwards with a system that boasts elements of renewal. But coupled with over-fishing, it takes more time to recover and, in some cases, they never recover.”

Dr. Sylvia Earle and her team will be exploring the reefs found near the Swan Islands throughout the week.

Using the unique hashtag #hopespots, Earle will continue to post real-time content from the expedition, including photos, blogs and video, on Twitter @bluerules and on her Facebook page Friends of Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Earle and her team are also encouraging the public to join them in taking action to protect this hope spot – and others in need of MPA status – by logging on to their website – www.sylviaearlealliance.org -- where they can donate to local conservation efforts aimed at safeguarding the Mesoamerican Reef.

Continue to visit The Huffington Post Green for exclusive photos from the Swan Islands expedition led by Dr. Sylvia Earle.

All photos courtesy of Kip Evan Photography.

PHOTO GALLERY
Swan Islands: Day 2