What is the Cave Corals Project?
A citizen science initiative that intends to conduct a baseline study of the species of fossilized corals that are found in the caves of Quintana Roo. The Cave Corals Project is sponsored by XDEEP Exploration Support Program.
Why should we study coral fossils in the caves?
1. Because no one has done it! Documenting cave coral fossils will draw the baseline species list that existed in paleo-reefs in Mexico. The gap of knowledge between current reefs and paleo-reefs will be narrowed.
2. Because corals can be identified even millions of years after their death. The hollow cavity in the coral skeleton, called corallite, is used in identifying coral species as opposed to other organisms where tissue is needed for proper identification. This makes my project achievable.
3. For conservation. Because caves are fragile and need to be protected. If we learn and educate the public about the caves and the information they hold, we will be able to protect them better.
4. It will help scientists reconstruct sea level. Little work has been done inside caves to gather data related to sea level and most researchers don’t dive caves. We can provide valuable information to be used in research.
5. To link the information to modern and future reefs. Understanding the diversity, the distribution, the abundance or locations of reefs will give us information to be able to understand how reefs have changed and where modern reefs are heading.
6. For education. Divers, teachers, students, visitors, communities, policy makers, residents, researchers, children… Everyone should learn about the importance of the karstic system of the Yucatan Peninsula and its origin.
What about the data?
Our project has a dedicated data base where all info, photos and data are uploaded. There is also a cave survey system in place that links to the coral fossils and other items within the project. The data base also has a system designed to help with the coral skeleton identification process allowing many people to work remotely on the ID.
What type of data is collected?
We have a set of information that we need in order to document a coral fossil. This includes information about the coral but also about the part of the cave where it is found, asociated species, types of fossil, what surrounds the fossil and even the position of the coral fossil. The data is paired with macro photos of the fossil for the final ID.
What is the status of the project?
We have done a lot of reading, writing and planning as well a testing and a little diving! We will be ready to start collecting data in November 2020. Keep in touch and stay tuned for updates on the research and the findings of the Cave Corals Project.
Can I help?
This project is a reality thanks to the help of many people that supports it. The Cave Corals Project often needs help from divers, web masters, designers, scuba diving brands and businesses, photographers, etc. If you think you have something to contribute with please get in touch.