Mesoamerican Reef System
The Mesoamerican Reef System, is the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. It begins in Mexico and snuggles along the landmass, past Belize, Guatemala, and the Northern Coast of Honduras. This reef system encompasses the Bay Islands, which includes Roatan.
It is crucial for us beings on this planet to nurture Mother Nature, Gaia, in whatever form she takes. This reef system, being one of those forms. It is imperative to the reef system, as well as to us as humans to insure this reef system stays healthy.
Without our oceans, and the marine life within, humans will not survive. Many Scientists believe we are now in the 6th Extinction Cycle of this planet. Due to our hubris and neglect as humans, we have polluted our oceans with massive amounts of plastic, and toxins. We have over fished many waters, and many fish are now no longer on this planet. It is estimated that over 1 billion people on this planet rely on fish as their major source of protein.
Around 50% of the oxygen we breath is present in the atmosphere thanks to phytoplankton (photosynthetic organisms that live in the surface oceans). Tiny phytoplankton in the ocean produce more oxygen than all the forests and plants on Earth. Is this not reason enough to cleanse, and nurture our oceans? If phytoplankton starts dying off, imagine the consequences for humanity.
So why all the talk about saving the oceans. Well recently I had the privilege of attending a General Assembly meeting of the Roatan Marine Park here on Roatan. I was awestruck on all the things this organization does. From rescues of people that have had their boats drift off, to kayakers that got beyond the reef and drifted away through the night; to legal battles with property owners to insure the mangroves are preserved; to monitoring the health of the reef that surrounds us; and so much more. Their efforts are much grander in scope then I ever imagined.
On a daily basis the Roatan Marine Park does a phenomenal job of nurturing the reef system as it surrounds our island. Eyes and ears of many concerned residents of this island also keep vigilant, working hand in hand with the RMP (Roatan Marine Park) reporting poachers, illegal fishing, capturing of sea turtles, or other endangered species, and to insure the mangroves are preserved. It is sort of like a big neighborhood watch system.
One of the projects I wanted to share that the RMP has done a great job with is a program of managing the Lionfish population. From understanding in-depth their characteristics, to working on programs to license individuals to spear these Lionfish, to conducting Lionfish derbies, and more. This Roatan Marine Park video, Lionfish Management Program is a prime example of the quality of professionalism, and depth to which this organization goes in educating the public, with a problem that faces us all. Not only for those of us involved in tourism, and not just those of us that live on this island. It is much broader in scope as this is a chain effect which ultimately could lean to a dying reef system. If the Lionfish are not controlled, they will eat the reef fish, which eats the algae, which keeps the coral clean. If there are no reef fish to eat the algae, the coral could die.
So what is my point with all of this? Education. It is imperative that we humans begin to question everyday our lifestyle and see what we can do to minimize our individual impact on this planet. Can we conserve water? Take 3 minute showers. Can we eliminate or at the very least cut down drastically the use of plastics in our lives? Carry a reusable water bottle rather than purchasing bottled water. Use reusable shopping bags rather than all the plastic ones handed out at various retail outlets. How about the consumption of our foods? Can we eliminate endangered fish from our diet? No more eating Grouper, Atlantic Halibut, Beluga Sturgeon, Orange Roughy, Bluefin Tuna! How about if we eat more plant life.
Change isn’t always easy. But, if you want to make a difference and contribute to the nourishment of Mother Gaia, these are ways it can be done. You can also get involved at a local level, or donate to the Roatan Marine Park to help support all of their initiatives.