Surveying Reef Health
May 11 – May 18, 2013
Swan Islands, Honduras


This expedition focused on a survey of reef health in the remote and rarely monitored Swan Islands, referred to as the Galapagos of the Caribbean. The islands’ remoteness previously led scientists to anticipate that the reefs were in pristine condition, but a 2011 expedition, lead by the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI), the Sylvia Earle Alliance (SEA) and “Mission Blue” of National Geographic, found that they were in “average or below average” condition. This despite the reefs being within a Marine Protected Area (MPA), remote from human intervention and not subject to the typical land-based impacts such as agricultural run-off and development suffered.

The 2013 TBA21-Academy expedition re-evaluated these reefs and produced comparative data that will show how these reefs have evolved. The data gathered by the expedition will help to uncover potential causes of the relatively poor reef conditions, or may give us hope for the survival of the reef systems in the absence of human interference. The expedition will also raise global awareness of the importance of this unique location that holds so much hope for the survival of coral species as a critical component of the Mesoamerican reef network of marine protected areas.
The expedition also continued Jana Winderen’s recording project, the Silencing of the Reefs, capturing and preserving the sounds of coral reefs and their environments as encountered during the Dardanella’s voyage. The project uses a variety of recording technologies, including multi-channel and ambisonic surround recordings of habitats and environments. These will be made available to marine researchers and scientists and form part of future sound works.

All TBA21-Academy activity on board the Dardanella was documented by a professional journalist and underwater photographer. The events and activities of the Swan Islands expedition were shared through articles that disseminate the Academy’s work. The documentation team also produced a daily blog for the TBA21–Academy webpage, to give a real-time, live picture of events as they unfold during the expedition.