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...]

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...]

Celebrating a Decade of Conservation and Collaboration in the Mesoamerican Reef

Heroic efforts by a suite of dedicated groups in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) – from non-profits to the dive community, governments to local fishing communities – have resulted in measurable improvements in reef health. Every two years, the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI), an international alliance of over 60 organizations including CORAL, publishes a Report Card on the status and trends of reef health in the MAR using data collected* from over 300 sites across 1000 kilometers and four countries. HRI Report Cards give sites a reef health score, analyze changes over time, and propose actions to improve reef health and enable reefs to endure and thrive.   The recently released 2018 Report Card tells us that overall reef health in the MAR has improved from an initial reef health index of Poor (2.3) in 2006 to Fair (2.8) this year, using a scale that ranges from Critical (1) to Very Good (5). The positive trend is a result of … [Read more...]