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


SEAGRASS – THE FORGOTTEN ECOSYSTEM

Friday, March 19th, 2010

To create the “turquoise water and white sand beach” image that is printed on every postcard and advertisement in the Caribbean, hotels and resorts continue to remove seagrass. In addition to extracting it from the water, hotels and businesses either bury washed up vegetation or place it in plastic bags bound for the dump. This is done to create a more aesthetically pleasing swimming environment with the belief that seagrasses harbor organisms harmful to swimmers. Seagrasses, however, are an economically and ecologically crucial marine habitat. The same seagrasses that are removed for being unsightly actually protect the white sand beaches and tropical waters that draw tourists to our island.

 People should know that waters lacking sediment and nutrients are better for coral reef health. Seagrasses reduce impacts of sewage and run-off on corals by absorbing much of the nutrients before they reach the reef zone. Seagrasses also reduce wave power, thereby consolidating sediments and minimising coastal erosion. A recent study in Mauritius found that beachside hotels that removed seagrass became the victims of their own innovation. In as little as a year, beaches had entirely disappeared due to coastal erosion. The fishing industry also benefits from the existence of seagrasses. They provide shelter for juvenile grouper, snapper, conch and lobster, and are an important food source for adult fish, helping to keep fishing sustainable.

 Coral reefs are designed to benefit from occasional natural disturbances such as hurricanes. But human degradation of Roatan’s reef and associated habitats (upon which tourism success depends) is reducing its ability to recover from such events. The potential result–ecological and economic collapse, perhaps as soon as the next major hurricane.

 While authorities fail to enforce environmental laws, developers need to take on more of a moral responsibility to ensure that their activities are not damaging the natural resources that bring people to the island.