News Updates

Marine debris

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

We all want to enjoy clean beaches, however every beach, no matter how remote, will always have trash littering its shoreline. This debris is not only unsightly and potentially dangerous for us, it is also deadly for marine animals. Marine debris is defined as trash or other solid material which enters oceans and often washes up on beaches. Data collected from 10 years of beach clean-ups indicated that 80% of this debris comes from land-based sources.

Marine debris is estimated to affect 270 species worldwide, including 85% of all sea turtle species, 45% of all sea bird species, and 45% of marine mammal species. Ways this debris affects marine animals include ingestion, where they consume plastic bags, cigarette butts, and bottle cap, resulting in malnutrition or even starvation. Suffocation can also occur from plastic bags or plastic six pack holders, blocking passageways. Also entanglement can occur when common items like fishing line, strapping bands and six-pack rings impede the mobility of marine animals. Once entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing or swimming, all of which can have fatal results

Marine debris is a symptom of a much larger water pollution problem caused by our everyday consumer lifestyle. Recognizing your role as part of the problem is the first step towards finding a solution. There are some basic lifestyle changes YOU can make including purchasing products with little or no packaging, and products made from recycled materials. By reducing the amount of waste created by reusing bags at the grocery store, reusing containers such as yoghurt pots or meat packs as Tupperware containers rather than using disposable materials, or reusing your beverage containers at coffee shops, bars, smoothie bars, rather than getting Styrofoam or plastic cups. You can also ensure that your trash is properly disposed of and that organic matter is used for compost. Finally you can recycle as much as possible and ensure that it is correctly removed. By spreading the word and making a conscientious effort to reduce your personal waste, our beaches could be that bit safer for us and the animals.


TIME: Taming the Lionfish

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Taming the Lionfish:

Can Predators Be Trained to Control an Invasive Species?

By Christy Choi – May 10 2011 – TIME Magazine

In March, on a small reef off the coast of Honduras, a group of pioneering conservationists started teaching sharks how to hunt. A half-dead lionfish, speared earlier by a diver, was released into the midst of a swirling mass of grey reef sharks. Sensing the lionfish’s final twitches, the sharks descended on the weakened prey. Unsuspectingly, a second lionfish wandered into the frenzy. Within seconds, it, too, was gone. All that remained was a trail of mush emanating from a shark’s toothy maw.

Floating in the nearby blue, photographer Antonio Busiello was there to capture the moment he and members of the Roatan Marine Park, a grassroots community organization in Honduras, had spent three months waiting for. “We weren’t sure the sharks would hunt on their own,” Busiello recalls from his studio in Los Angeles. Although not yet common behavior, the reef sharks’ voluntary hunt brings hope of a new way of battling the long-problematic proliferation of lionfish in the region. The aquarium pet turned invader, with it’s voracious appetite, prolific breeding and territorial nature, has locals and scientists up and down the Caribbean and Northern Atlantic worried about the threat it could pose to coastal ecosystems and economies by wiping out the stocks of small fish in an already stressed ecosystem.

Read more at: 
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2070599,00.html#ixzz1MMPLz8WQ


Lionfish: The Other White Meat

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

The Lionfish are invading! No, it’s not the tag line from a bad sci-fi movie, it’s what scientists around the Caribbean have been saying for years. The Lionfish invasion is so destructive because they eat everything in sight and have very few predators, leaving only humans to control their populations. The only hope of reducing the number of lionfish is to create a demand for them at the dinner table.

Most of the world’s edible fish species are severely overfished. Lionfish is the perfect way to still enjoy fish while avoiding the guilt associated with eating species such as grouper, snapper, and other reef fish. Though lionfish are venomous, the toxin is in the spines, not the meat. If stabbed, the venom is not fatal but will cause pain and swelling near the wound. There are several methods to safely filet a lionfish. The easiest technique is to cut off the dorsal and pectoral spines using scissors. Once the spines are removed, lionfish can be safely and easily prepared like any other fish. Another way is to freeze the entire fish for 2 hours to neutralize the venomous spines.

Lionfish are tasty, with white, delicate, and flakey meat. They are a perfect substitute for grouper and are a completely sustainable and guilt-free fish to eat. There are even Lionfish cookbooks, containing recipes to use the meat in every conceivable way. Most of the recipes can also be found free online. Perhaps the most tasty and popular dish is lionfish ceviche. Other popular ways to cook lionfish include sautéing with garlic and butter or frying. Some people even use it in sushi. So do your part to protect Roatan’s reef by eating lionfish.

The Roatan Marine Park has created a television and radio public service announcement to inform people about the benefits of eating lionfish and how to safely clean them. We will also be visiting the local communities to perform demonstrations on how to cook and clean lionfish.


Taking students on the glass bottom boat

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Every parent knows that having to go to school isn’t always their child’s favorite past time, however some days are different. These days may include outings to Carambola Gardens, Blue Harbor Plantation or the dolphin show at AKR, and we like to think a glass bottom boat trip with the Marine Park.

We have been working with the glass bottom boat in West Bay for over 4 years and since April 2010, have visited 8 schools and talked to 2,000 kids. From those, over 600 have been fortunate enough to see the wonders of Roatán’s reef first hand. When our staff or volunteers visit schools, we teach the students about the reefs, its inhabitants and their importance, as well as a host of environmental subjects. To reinforce the importance of the reef and the fact that they’re the guardians of this fragile ecosystem, we provide them with an intimate view of the coral, fish and other strange marine creatures. coral, fish, inhabitants

As they load onto the boat, the kids are excited about their adventure ahead. For some, this is the first time they’ll experience the wonders below the waves. Even though they live on an island, many can’t swim or have ever seen coral. Their first view is the vast expanse of seagrass inside the lagoon, and then as they near the channel, with faces pressed against the glass, the reef slowly materializes before their eyes. With every turtle, barracuda, eel, ray they see, their curiosity about the reef and its inhabitants grows. This could be the moment they realize how fortunate they are to live on Roatán.

 Each trip on the glass bottom boat is a new adventure and a memorable experience for the kids. We are very proud to provide this opportunity to Roatan’s youth and would like to say a huge thank you to Mario and John. If you are interested in the RMP visiting your school and taking your students on the glass bottom boat, please contact us at info@roatanmarinepark.net


Making a difference

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

We humans generate  pounds of waste every day, creating a tremendous impact on the planet’s health. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Making a difference is not about being a big hero, it is simply about leaving the bathroom a little cleaner going out, than when you came in?” There are many small things that we can do to support the cause of having a healthy Mother Earth.

You can start by replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. This is a great idea, considering they last much longer and will save you money on your electricity bill and protect the environment. What about taking shorter showers? Two or three minutes less saves 9-12 gallons of water. If you have noticed leaky faucets and pipes at home, fix them as soon as possible. A dripping tap can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year! Also, drive less: walk, ride a bike, or plunge in and swim to work. You’ll exercise and save money.

Always remember to dispose of trash properly: most trash eventually finds its way to the oceans. A simple piece of bubble gum takes 60 years to degrade and cigarette butts, like most human-made trash, are not biodegradable. Pick up trash when you see it, whether in the street, on the beach, in the sea, or anywhere else. Get a re-usable bag to go shopping and have your own water bottle to avoid buying water in disposable plastic bottles. 

You can also become a volunteer of the Marine Park and do your part in supporting Roatán’s conservation efforts!


Finning Sharks in Honduran Waters

Monday, April 26th, 2010

For a prosperous future, Honduras needs to solidify its identity as a leader in the global community of environmentally conscious countries that rely on long-term management plans for ecotourism. Protecting sharks as a flagship species of healthy reefs in Honduras is one way to win international approval and keep the tourists coming here.

Shark finning is an unsustainable method of commercial fishing, non-traditional, wasteful, and it is here in Honduras. The process involves cutting the fins from live sharks while at sea and dumping the living body overboard to drown. This wastes approximately 97% of each animal while preserving storage space on the boat to continue fishing for shark fins. Additionally, by-catch on the long lines set to catch sharks commonly results in 70% morbidity of everything caught, turtles, fish and sharks. The value of shark fins to the Asian market has exploded, due largely to the expansion of trade and growth of the Chinese economy and population.

Honduras is now joining countries like the USA, South Africa, Brazil, India and Costa Rica in taking the steps to protect coastal sharks from being killed for their fins. The Fisheries Department (DIGEPESCA) is addressing this threat to the marine legacy of the Honduran people as it now is working to pass a law banning the finning of targeted coastal species. Regarding the nurse and whale sharks, in 1999 Honduras led the way as one of the first countries to protect this species.

Of note, the new law addresses sharks commonly caught in the coastal plains, leaving reef sharks and hammerhead species vulnerable. With the growth of consciousness in the Bay Islands of the value of healthy reefs, fish populations and indeed sharks, to tourism, we can continue to work towards a marine management plan that ensures Hondurans a bright future as a destination for the environmentally conscious traveler.


Protecting the iguana

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

In 2004, the Roatan spiny-tailed iguana, Ctenosaura oedirhina, was listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List. In March 2010, C. oedirhina, along with 12 other iguana species native to Central America were included in the CITES Appendix II listing due to their recent appearance in the international pet trade. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Species assigned to the Appendix I are those threatened with extinction, and trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Those listed in Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled. 

Currently there is a lack of information about the spiny-tailed iguana, including all aspects of the basic biology as well as population size, extent of occurrence, and threats. It is estimated that only 5,000 individuals remain in the wild on Roatan, with a proportion of these residing at Sherman Arch’s iguana and Marine Park in French Cay. Iguanas play an important role in the regeneration of forests, with a species in Costa Rica recognized as being among the main seed dispersers for some plants of a deciduous forest.

As you travel around Roatan, you will often notice kids walking down the streets carrying iguanas or ladies offering iguana stew. While hunting of iguana is prohibited by law, there are no real active means of protection or management at national or local level. For a species on the Critically Endangered List, very little is done to protect these animals. Threatened by over-exploitation for local consumption, habitat destruction, and collection for the international pet trade, why do we not do more to protect them? How can it be illegal to hunt these animals, yet serving iguanas on menus results in no reprisal? Sadly only once species disappear do we recognize the wrongs of our ways. To protect the iguana for future generations, our government must take active steps in protecting them.


Alternatives to toxic products used in the house

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

We know that poorly treated sewage harms coral reefs. However, we know little about the effects of the various toxic products we routinely pour down the drain on the biology of most coral reef creatures. The lack of scientific attention to this problem, given its enormity, is particularly troubling as we are quietly but continuously poisoning many of them. Consider the following alternatives to toxic cleaning products. Not only are they more environmentally friendly, but they are often cheaper too! Below are the commonly used products and the eco-friendly alternatives

Detergent & Soap                   Elbow grease

Bleach                                        Hydrogen peroxide

Scouring Powders                Baking soda or salt

Floor Cleaner                         One cup white vinegar in 2 gallons water

Window Cleaner                    One cup vinegar in 1-quart warm water, rinse & squeegee

Varnish Cleaner                    Wipe with ½ cup vinegar & ½ cup water mixed

Toilet Cleaner                        Baking soda & brush

Shower Cleaner                     Wet surface, sprinkle baking soda, rub with scouring cloth

Aluminium Cleaner             2 Tablespoons cream of tartar in 1-quart hot water

Chrome Cleaner/Polish     Apple cider vinegar to clean, baby oil to polish

Fibreglass Stain Remover   Baking soda paste

Drain Opener                         Disassemble & replace; do not use toxic substances

Mildew Remover                 Paste using equal parts of lemon juice & salt

Wood Polish                          3 parts olive oil & 1 part white vinegar, almond or olive oil (interior unvarnished wood only)


Think twice before jumping in the water

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

As you venture down to the beach to top up your tan or go for a snorkel, it’s almost instinctive to slather sunscreen on and spray yourself with DEET. It’s always important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays and the pesky no-seeums! It’s fine if you don’t venture into the water, but if you go for a cooling dip or a snorkel, you’re introducing a variety of poisons and toxins into the sea and may be contributing to the death of Roatan’s reefs.

A recent study commissioned by the European Commission estimates that up to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers annually in oceans worldwide. Sunscreens are comprised of around 20 compounds which act as UV filters and preservatives. The study found that four of these compounds can awaken dormant viruses in the symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, which live inside corals. The algae are vital in the coral’s survival and without them the coral bleaches, turning white and then dying. The chemicals found in sunscreen cause the viruses to replicate until their algal host explodes, spilling viruses into the surrounding seawater, where they can infect neighboring coral communities. It was found that just a 20-minute dip could wash off about a quarter of the chemicals in the lotion, resulting in the chemicals ending on the reef. The study concluded that up to 10% of the world’s reefs are at risk from sunscreen-induced coral bleaching, a gloomy outlook.

While there are so many anthropologic threats to Roatan’s coral reefs, ranging from sedimentation, sewage, pollution and development, you can at least do your part and choose to use eco-friendly sunscreens. Also avoid using DEET if you intend to go immediately into the sea as this is toxic to plants and animals alike. The Marine Park Green Store stocks eco-friendly sunscreen and repellent, so do your part to prevent further bleaching!


New eco-friendly products in our eco-store

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

When thinking about ways to conserve resources, reduce waste, and limit damage to the environment, we often overlook some of the simple changes that we can all make at home to reduce environmental contamination. The RMP endorses and sells several cleaning products that replace traditional products that are harmful to the environment. Rather than relying on harsh substances to break down dirt, many of these products use natural solvents and enzymes to remove dirt and stains. Below are a few of the products available in our eco-store.

Laundry Detergent

We stock an ultra-concentrated laundry detergent requiring just a half ounce per load of laundry. Its blend of biodegradable detergents, enzymes, and brighteners target stains and remove them without using toxic or corrosive chemicals.

All-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaner

This product uses a botanical disinfectant formula made with essential oil and citric acid. It is made from botanically pure plant extracts with pleasant aromatic vapors. These proven botanical ingredients kill over 99.9% of bacteria and viruses

Hand Dishwashing Liquid

The RMP stocks dish soap that leaves dishes spotless without harsh chemicals. Its formula contains biodegradable ingredients created with super-concentrated formulas.

Tub and Tile Cleaner

This Tub and Tile cleaner uses natural citric acid and oils to destroy soap scum, lime scale, and hard water spots. Unlike traditional cleaners, this cleaner does not contain chlorine bleach, strong acids like sulfuric acid that can be harmful if ingested, or phosphoric acid that can act like fertilizer to algae in waterways.

These are just a few of the products available that can help reduce environmental contamination on our island and in our waters. Because they are all highly concentrated they come in smaller bottles, which mean less plastic waste, and are competitively priced to traditional cleaners. You will find that it is possible to get a great product, help protect the environment, and save money at the same time.