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Hendrix students travel to Belize to study corals

Posted: Tuesday, April 11, 2017. 9:33 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: Two students from Hendrix College, a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, traveled to Belize last month for a marine biology project examining coral reefs.

Brandon Cathey ’18 and Olivia Sims ’17 , traveled to Belize with biology professor Dr. Jenn Dearolf, as a part of the Hendrix Odyssey Program.

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The students stayed at Belize Marine Tropical Research Center in San Pedro, while investigating the environmental parameters that encourage the growth of elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (A. cervicornis) coral on the reef. 

The students learned skills such as delaying a flow meter, collecting data on current and depth; measuring light levels at the top and bottom of elk horn coral at a snorkel site, marking gps coordinates on coral stands so that they can be found in subsequent years, and how to use a colorimeter which allowed them to measure the low concentrations of certain ions (nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, calcium) in the water at the coral stands.

The project is significant to the Caribbean, because both Elkhart and Staghorn corals are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The college hopes that the the new equipment and techniques that form a part of the project will used by future students in Dr. Dearolf’s Marine Biology course.

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