About 2019-04-24T14:43:58+00:00



The Utila Coral Restoration team is composed of Andrea Martinez, Jemma Aitken and Daniela Mejia.

Daniela Mejia

Daniela Mejia is the lead scientist on the Utila Coral Restoration and Monitoring project. She is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor, and has been a diver for over 10 years. She is currently undergoing a Masters in Environmental Protected Area Management and Marine Sciences, she has self-taught and researched quite extensively when it comes to Coral Biology and Research methods. Daniela is also certified in AGRRA survey methodologies.

Jemma Aitken

Jemma Aitken is the lead scientist on the Utila Coral Restoration project. She is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor and has a BSc in Marine Biology and MSc in Marine Environmental Management from the University of York, England. She is a contributor to a published article: O’Leary. BC, Winther-Janson. M, Bainbridge. JM, Aitken. J, Hawkins. JP, & Roberts. CM. Effective Coverage Targets for Ocean Protection (2016) Conservation Letters 00(0):1-6. This paper discusses the current level of marine protection afforded by MPA’s and suggests a future target for policy to aim for. At present Jemma is the GoEco Programme Lead at Utila Dive Center. She developed the programme and manages the conservation initiatives at UDC.

Andrea Martinez

Andrea Martinez is the founding member and Research Director of Kanahau Utila Research and Conservation Facility. She has conceptualized and created Kanahau as a unique organization to both educate visitors and the general public and support scientists researching the marine and terrestrial wildlife of the Bay Islands. She is a PADI & SSI Instructor and has a great passion for the ocean. She received her B.Sc. in Biology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. Andrea worked with Dr. Stesha A. Pasachnik and Dr. Chad E. Montgomery, renowned herpetologist in the field of reptiles. They together published an article BODY SIZE, DEMOGRAPHY, AND BODY CONDITION IN UTILA SPINYTAILED IGUANAS, CTENOSAURA BAKERI (2010) Herpetological Conservation and Biology 7(3):391–398.

Founding Partners

The Utila Coral Restoration project would not be possible without the support and help of our founding partners: Utila Dive Center and Kanahau Conservation and Research Facility.

Utila Dive Center

Utila Dive Center is the proud founding partner for the Utila Coral Restoration project. UDC is one of the first dive centers, established on Utila in 1991. Currently recognized as one of the most awarded PADI Career Development Centers worldwide. UDC has always been celebrated for its many contributions to environmental causes.  From Project AWARE to CoralWatch, there are many organizations that UDC partners with as it is a crucial component of the values that make up this organization.

Kanahau Conservation and Research Facility

Kanahau Conservation and Research Facility is the proud founding partner for the Utila Coral Restoration project. Kanahau was created to promote research on the flora and fauna of Utila. For many years, our scientists have been developing studies on endemic species of iguanas and anoles, studying the biodiversity of mammals and promoting educational outreach to the community. Kanahau’s vision has always been to develop a better understanding of how to manage natural resources on the Bay Islands, and Utila specifically. They are one of the most active organizations on the island of Utila, and promote community engagement through various projects and sustainable practices. Now Kanahau hopes to expand into the marine research realm through projects like Utila Coral Restoration.