Andrea Rivera-Sosa standing in front of turtle mural
A diver, reef monitor, and trainer on coral bleaching, stressors, and ecology, Andrea followed her childhood dream of studying coral reefs and now works with multiple groups worldwide to monitor coral reef bleaching and improve the Allen Coral Atlas.

What is your current occupation?

I work as a project and outreach manager with the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL). My main role is to connect with people who are monitoring coral reef bleaching and help them share information that strengthens the Allen Coral Atlas – an online platform that allows for the visualization of coral reefs and includes a component called “reef threats,” which monitors coral reef bleaching and also turbidity.  

Where were you born, where do you live now, and where were you educated?

I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and moved to the United States when I was thirteen. While I was in high school in New Jersey I took a marine biology class, volunteered at an aquarium, and worked at a pet shop that sold fish, so really became interested in the marine environment. After high school, I spent a year at the University of the Virgin Islands, which really opened my eyes to coral reef issues, and I realized, wow, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life!

I completed my under-grad marine science and environmental education in Hawaii, at the University of Honolulu – which was amazing, so beautiful, with lots of great resources, like having a professor who wrote the book for the class that he’s teaching. And then I did my masters at the University of Plymouth and the University of Cadiz in Spain, where I received an Erasmus Mundus scholarship. Then just last year I finished my Ph.D. in marine science at CINVESTAV (The Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute) in Mexico, where I live now.

What is your area of expertise?

Coral reef ecology and coral reef stressors, particularly coral bleaching.

What is your primary motivation for doing the work that you do?

My primary motivation is to understand the coral reef ecosystem. And a big motivation is to share my knowledge with people who depend on that resource so they can better manage their businesses and improve reef conditions.  

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

I think my greatest accomplishment was landing a job two years ago with CORAL, which was a long-time dream for me. That, and finishing my Ph.D.

What do you strive to achieve in the future?

Workwise, I am very interested in increasing my knowledge of waste management (wastewater and solid waste), because I feel that so many problems could be resolved if our waste issues were resolved. Although I’ve questioned whether I really want to spend the rest of my life working with waste, now I really feel a calling to learn more about it.  

Personally, I’m an entrepreneur in my spare time. My partner and I recently had a small houseboat built from scratch, which we plan to rent for short periods of time to couples looking for a memorable experience, like waking up to the sun rising over the beautiful Bacalar Lagoon where the houseboat is docked. We’re just finishing up the website now. 

Have you ever thought about the name HOBO and what it might mean?

For me, we always call all temperature loggers HOBOs. I used temperature and light HOBO loggers in my work for my Ph.D., so HOBO has always meant a tool that you use, that you can leave in the water, and collect accurate data. But I’m realizing now that HOBO really represents the plethora of monitoring tools that Onset offers.

Which HOBO products do you use on a regular basis?

What we’re using on a regular basis right now is the TidbiT MX2204 temperature logger. We have them in 40 different locations out on a reef in the Bay Islands of Honduras, and we are monitoring temperature. 

Can you describe a specific project where HOBO Data Loggers played a key role?

The one I just mentioned, in the Bay Islands of Honduras, which is a project where we’re trying to link temperature, habitat variability, and also genetics of corals. We’re using the HOBO temp loggers to track temperature and see if those areas with high genetic diversity are also areas with high variability in temperature. For another project, during my Ph.D., I used HOBO Pendant temperature loggers in a very turbid but beautiful coral reef off the coast of Honduras, in Tele Bay. These were the original version, not the Bluetooth Pendants. And when I learned about Bluetooth, I was like, wow, this is so much easier, not having to take the logger back to download data, and saves time and money.

What HOBO features do you consider most important? 

Well, I really like that I can replace the batteries, so for me that’s a very important feature, because you can just continue using the loggers for a really long time. And Bluetooth is also important because it makes it easier. Also, the quality of the products and the electronics within them, because they’re underwater, they’re in the ocean, and they’re exposed to temperature and swell and waves and fish picking at them – so the quality and reliability are really important. I’m also excited about being able to upload water temp data from HOBO loggers to the Aqualink website, so it can be shared with the world.

Do you think accurate data can help you build a better tomorrow?

Yes, of course. I think, for coral bleaching and monitoring sea surface temperatures, it’s important to have accurate data from different locations to serve as spot-checks of satellite temperature indicators for the world. This helps validate actual water temperatures, because so many variables can influence temperature. It’s like a spot-check of having that accurate data locally.

If you could spend the day on the job with one person (living or deceased), who would it be? 

I would say Sylvia Earle, just because she’s so amazing. I met her briefly many years ago. She’s one of the pioneers in marine science. She’s 87-years-old now, but she was one of the first women to actually go diving, and has been an ambassador for the oceans in general. I could learn so much from her and her drive to advocate for preservation and management of protected areas.