A visit with Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences
There are people, deeply invested in and connected to where they live, and, their connection extends to conservation, protection and preservation of that place. The people who started and run Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences, RIMS, are those kinds of people. It is their mission, “to do all we can to protect our ecosystem and maintain our status as a sustainable destination.“
Located just 40 miles off the coast of Honduras in the Bay Islands on the island of Roatan, lies the world’s second largest reef system, the Mesoamerican reef. RIMS cooperates with other scientific and marine non-profit facilities in the region, they assist visiting research scientists, work with interns, and offer education programs including lectures and slide shows to inform and enhance the underwater experience for travelers to Roatan.
On a recent dive trip there, I personally experienced one of their underwater programs.
Along with the new diver, Dr. C. Loner, we met Jennifer Keck, Education & Research Coordinator at RIMS, to learn about and participate in their coral restoration program.
Jennifer explained the local threats to corals in Roatan that compound the regional and global ones. We dove together to one of their near off-shore coral nurseries where we cleaned fire coral from the underwater trees. Due to local weather patterns and surging seas, the underwater coral trees of Roatan are in 50’ waters, deeper than many other coral nurseries. The trees there are raised and lowered several times a year to protect the growing coral fragments from storms and then when those weather systems pass, to expose the frags to the sunlight and nutrients needed for growth. Despite political, economic and environmental threats, this organization persists and has influenced the near resort who now uses no single use plastics, have become pioneers in solar energy on Roatan, practice water conservation and sustainable waste treatment.
Inspired by the work of Jennifer and her colleagues, Coral Crusaders donated funds to thee coral restoration program of RIMS.
See photos below of our ‘tree’ where both Staghorn, Acropora cervicornis and Elkhorn, Acropora palmata, are thriving.
Have you dove in Roatan, what did you see?