Roatan: What if it became the world's largest coral reef?
The year is 2016. The time is Now.
Now for us to re-evaluate our methodology of consumption & now for us to re-think the footprints we will make for tomorrow.
Approaching my destination in perfect weather, the edges of Roatan fans out softly like the wings of the manta ray. Roatan's fringing coral reef is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, that runs from Mexico, down to Panama. In early 2016, much of the world's largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, suffered widespread bleaching. The extent is yet to be sized up and the loss of this UNESCO World Heritage Site would not be immediate, as the impact for corals (one of the basic building blocks of ocean life) will spiral up the food chain in the months and years to come.
In a bit of a nutshell, 20 years ago an Asian fishing trawler had cleaned out the waters of apex predators namely sharks and now that the fishing vessel is done and gone, some balance of the food chain is slowly making a come back. To the south of Roatan is Utila, where the deep waters shelter the migratory whale sharks on their annual routes around early Spring.The waters here are rich beyond imagination and worthy of ranking right alongside the Great Barrier Reef.
The incredible emerald waters that the Caribbean are famous for can be found to the north of Roatan island just off the Garifunas village.
The shades of azure and cyan are the result of the filtration effects from the mangrove trees. There are three species of mangrove trees there, red, black and white. An entire strip of mangroves were clear a decade ago and the effects can be seen today, as a lone tree sits on the horizon and the sandy shores of that beach is on a calm day a muddy brown at best.