Finding Resilience in Honduras

As Executive Director of the Roatán Marine Park, Francis Lean can relate to her tourist clientele—she used to be one of them. Originally from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, Lean used to join the 1.6 million people who visited Roatán on vacation each year. Roatán is one of the three main islands that make up the Bay Island chain on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Its economy is highly dependent upon tourism, and travelers from around the world flock to the island to enjoy its beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters. The Roatán Marine Park (RMP) is one of 14 organizations that are responsible for day-to-day management of the resources within the Bay Islands National Marine Park, the largest marine protected area in Honduras. Like many businesses and organizations on the island, RMP is almost entirely reliant upon tourism—85% of its operating budget is tied to tourism, both directly and indirectly. So when … [Read more...]

Silver-Linings in Hawaii

It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, and Erica Perez leaves her house in Hilo to start the slow, dark, one-and-a-half hour drive to the South Kohala coast on the other side of Hawai‘i’s Big Island. She arrives at the first site at 7:00 a.m., where she meets long-time community volunteer Keith Neal. They put their masks on, unload the testing equipment and Perez wades her way to knee-deep water to collect their first water quality sample. Neal stays behind to watch the equipment. It’s the first of five sites they will collect samples from that morning, trying to hit all before the sun has a chance to break down bacteria. Once sampling is finished around noon, they part ways and Perez travels south to drop the samples off at two different laboratories before making her way back home to wait for the results. The sampling is part of an island-wide collaborative effort that Perez launched as CORAL’s Program Manager on Hawai‘i Island. … [Read more...]

Maui 10-Year-Old Grows 900 Native Plants to Protect Coral Reefs

10-year-old Abby Rogers has converted her backyard into a native plant nursery to help save coral reefs. Rogers is a volunteer with the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), helping to grow native plants that will be transplanted at their stream restoration site in Wahikuli. The native plants trap sediment that runs off the slope and into the ocean where it smothers coral reefs. Typically, CORAL purchases the plants and hosts volunteer planting days at the stream restoration site. But when COVID-19 restrictions hit and the group planting days were no longer safe, the team put a call out to volunteers to grow the plants at home from seed. “I really wanted to do things for the environment, but had not found a way to really help besides not using a straw or bringing my own bags to the store,” says Rogers. “My mom read about [the CORAL project] in a newspaper article and suggested it to me.” Originally, Rogers signed up to take home … [Read more...]

The Women Behind the Science

It’s 6:45 a.m. when Paola Urrutia arrives at Tela Bay. She makes her way down to the water, finds the spot where the fishermen will disembark after their morning catch, and sits down to wait. On the northern Caribbean coast of Honduras, Tela Bay sits at the bottom of a gently sloping tropical forest, marked by beautiful white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise water. It’s home to some of the healthiest coral reefs in all of Central America—scientists estimate that the bay averages about 70% live coral cover, the highest in the Mesoamerican Reef system. When she sees the first boat begin to approach, Urrutia pulls out her equipment and marks down the time of arrival. She approaches the vessel and requests permission to collect data from their catch. The fishermen are used to her presence by now and her research has become a standard part of their disembarkation routine. She analyzes the fish they caught, carefully documenting all … [Read more...]

CORAL Wins The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award

The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) was honored to be recognized by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting as one of six organizations and individuals to receive The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources (CALA) on September 9, 2020. The CALA was established in 2016 to recognize exemplary leadership in the field of climate adaptation and the protection of the nation’s vital natural resources and the people who depend on them in a changing world. “Climate change poses growing risks to our nation’s valuable fish and wildlife resources and the many people, businesses and communities that depend upon them,” stated Kelly Hepler, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks. “This year’s awardees have done outstanding work to help safeguard species, habitats, and communities in a changing world, and we are thrilled to … [Read more...]

CORAL Helps Revitalize Bay Island Economies in Honduras

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented economic crisis across the globe—particularly in countries and regions that are highly dependent upon tourism revenue. In Honduras, for example, eight percent of the GDP comes from tourism. Spring break is one of their most popular travel periods when tourists from around the world flock to the Bay Islands on the Honduran Caribbean coast. The Bay Islands are a launching point to the world’s second-largest reef system—the Mesoamerican Reef—and the beautiful white sand beaches attract vacationers from around the globe. But this year, Easter week alone saw a loss of $283.4 million USD and nearly 30,000 jobs. The local communities who depend on that revenue and income felt the effects acutely. CORAL has partnered with local Bay Island communities since 2005 to build programs that reduce the impact of tourism on the reef and to ensure proceeds from tourism benefit communities and the … [Read more...]