Operation Wallacea is a charity organisation which runs a series of biological and conservation management programmes in remote locations across the world. I'll be joining their expedition in Cuba this summer as a research assistant to aid in conservation of wildlife habitats, particularly in the marine environment.
This will consist of surveying the natural habitat within the coral reefs south of mainland Cuba. I will be stationed on the Isle of Youth (Isla de la Juventud) part-time, the rest of which will be on the Felipe Poey Research Ship. The purpose of these expeditions is to carry out surveys that assist in protecting the world's endangered species, because the data I will be helping to collect is used in identifying and carrying out where and how we can help these eco-systems effectively.
The research objective that I'll be working on is to complete surveys of the fish and the reef, as well as assisting in carrying out Manatee population assessments. If I'm lucky, I'll get to see one of these endangered mammals!
Before OpWall, even when urgent biodiversity protection needs were identified, data was often not utilised because of a lack of funding to initiate the protection. As a result, OpWall was set up to help alleviate this issue - because of their teams of specialists and volunteer assistants like myself, they can use the funds raised for these expeditions in the most cost-effective way, allowing a greater positive impact on the environment and its inhabitants. They also work with the local community to show them how working for the benefits of conservation can still be beneficial to their economy, getting the people invested in their local natural areas.
All of this is only possible because of the money raised by those of us joining the expeditions, supported by our own communities. I would really appreciate any contributions towards this cause to help me reach my fundraising target. Thank you so much in advance for your support :)