SL001 – Sri Lanka – Coral Reef Monitoring Internship – Project description

Project scope

Early 2019, the Sri Lankan authorities will be designating a new marine sanctuary on the shores off Pasikudah, eastern Sri Lanka. This designation will provide a framework to protect the pristine coral reefs located in this area from both direct and indirect anthropogenic degradation.

The project will focus on establishing a biodiversity baseline for this marine sanctuary, and will monitor the effects of this protected area on:

  1. Species diversity and abundance
  2. Important biophysical parameters of ecosystem health and resilience

Project impact

By means of biophysical monitoring of this new marine sanctuary, the project will provide key information required for the establishment and improvement of efficient management measures. Through continued collaboration with both the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation and local stakeholders, we will then ensure that these measures are implemented and yield the expected results in terms of species biodiversity and abundance, and socio-economic return to local communities.

The project will also focus on engaging with local fishing communities to improve fishing practices in the area, increase awareness of environmental conservation issues and actively involve them in the management of the new marine sanctuary.

Specific objectives:
Document benthic cover and fish distribution across spatial scales
Document coral bleaching and recovery patterns
Determine biophysical variables impacting reef health and resilience
Contribute to raising awareness of ecological issues in local communities

What you will learn

As part of this project, you will acquire skills, knowledge and practical experience in marine ecology.  This is a unique opportunity to work alongside local scientists and to learn what marine ecology field work truly is about.

As such, you will be engaged in scientific research and monitoring aimed at supporting the implementation and management of a newly established marine sanctuary. You will also be able to learn how to use and maintain field equipment, including the handling of field boats.

Finally, you will also have an opportunity to engage with local communities get personal insight into their perspectives of marine conservation and sustainable development.

Coral reef survey methods including point intercept transect, belt transects, quadrats, manta tows
Use of field sampling equipment (sediment grab, water sampling, underwater drop camera)
Collection of samples from fish for genetic analyses
Marine life identification (corals, fish etc.)
Introduction to boat handling
Fish catch information and morphological data of landed fish

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