Nick Fash, an educator at Heal the Bay’s nonprofit Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, will join a team of researchers in Belize in August to study environmental and anthropogenic impacts on coral growth along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

Through a scholarship provided by the Helen and Peter Bing Foundation and the Earthwatch Institute, Fash will be working with Dr. James Crabbe of the University of Luton, England.

The expedition will be with the Belize Conservation Research Initiative from August 6th to August 19th, in Sapodilla Cayes, Belize. Team members will be documenting how the effects of hurricanes, pollution and global warming are changing the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef to help resource managers combat these adverse forces and make plans ahead of time to keep the reef in a healthy state.

The Earthwatch Institute is sponsoring more than 155 research projects in 48 countries and 16 U.S. states this year, supporting scientific field research related to sustainable development conducted by scientists in a range of disciplines from habitat management to healthcare.

Fash will present his findings from the Belize expedition in public forums this fall and he says he expects to relate the environmental impacts faced by the Belize reef to environmental challenges found in Southern California waters.

At the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, Fash teaches students about the ocean habitat off the Southern California coast and ways people can protect the ocean.