Bay Islands Foundation appreciates the collaboration of Fauna and Flora International and the partners from the Marine Landscape project (FUCSA, Honduras Coral Reef Fund, LARECOTURH, CEM) in the management and donation of food, to contribute to food security in the COVID-19 crisis for 16 families from Utila. 

The support of the FIB staff, Demetrius Williams and Jerry Bodden was elementary to transport and deliver the donation to members of the group of exchangers, women artisans and hunters.

Here, some of the members from the groups receiving their donation.

Pumpkin Hill Beach Clean Up

Pumpkin Hill became the point of focus. Monthly beach cleanings were started this year with a problem, more plastic was found than normal on Pumpkin Hill beach, one more concern for Utila.

The problem of plastic in Utila arises from the amount of marine life that is being affected. Diving centers report large amounts of plastic within the sea every month and it is killing hundreds of marine animals in the sector.  This time, staff members and two volunteers from Bay Islands Foundation were the ones who helped clean Pumpkin Hill Beach in January. Providing the opportunity for marine life to start a year with a beach cleanse that allows them to reduce the chances of being harmed.

Our job is to protect the environment, let´s try to reduse plastic.

Red mangrove! Collecting and planting seeds

Utila is the third largest island in Honduras that consists of two-thirds of plains, occupied by wetlands, where swamps and mangroves dominate. These wetlands are particularly interesting for their highly diversified mosaic organization and original plant associations. (Bak & Claude, 2002). With the exception of its eastern, volcanic, and narrow sandy or rocky strip, on the island of Utila (4,219.7 ha) the sensu stricto mangroves represent about 1,566 ha for a total of 2990 ha of maritime marshes. (Legibre, 2001).

In addition to all the benefits that mangroves provide to coastal areas, in Utila in particular, it represents a factor of decreasing vulnerability to climate phenomena that occur every year in the region, such as hurricanes and storms tropical, as it acts as a protective barrier against these events. It is also necessary to indicate that the conservation of mangrove areas in Utila is of paramount importance, by the fact of the existence of endemic species, such as reptiles such as the Iguana of Utila Ctenosaura bakeri, birds such as the chachalaca Ortalis vetula, and possibly also fish.

Red mangrove seeds.

However, the mangroves around the city of Utila have suffered an impact, due to the growth of tourism that is mainly causing the urban expansion that occurs on the island. Given these impacts, Bahia Islands Foundation has done hard work for two days together with a group of young people called Eco-leaders of Utila, in which they have collected 2,500 red mangrove seedlings during a tour of the mangrove canal and then go to the task of plant each at the Turtle Harbour Wildlife Refuge. The planting of these seedlings was by direct planting, a new and viable way so that they cannot be lost. This is a form implemented in Guatemala and that was made as an alternative to other options that have failed in previous years.

Collecting seeds through the channel.
Eco-leaders being part of the planting

Ctenosaura bakeri monitoring

The Bay Islands Marine Park, located in Utila in the Bay Islands department and is characterized by having an immense amount of reefs, marine biodiversity, is also characterized by being covered with mangrove forest with wetlands that develop in salt water or freshwater and endemic species among the most important is the black iguana (Stephen et al., 2009). The black iguana (Ctenosaura Bakeri), is one of the endemic species of Utila, this species lives only in the mangrove, which covers 8 to 10 km2 (25%) of the totality of the island. This iguana has been affected as in previous years it was considered as one of the species with low population, this due to the strong illegal hunting and the destruction of its habitat.

The Bay Islands Foundation through Iguana Station project has taken as part of its research programs to monitor the black iguana (Ctenosaura Bakeri) and reproduction of this species that is done within the station with breeding in captivity, this in order to protect, conserve and increase the population of this species and in the same way prevent it from dying over time. On the other hand, make awareness to the inhabitants of the island the importance of this species and the value it has to protect the fauna of Utila.

To make this work a success it is necessary to monitor the population distribution of this type of iguana by doing monthly tours to three points of the areas: Western Path (WP), Oyster Bed (OB) and Big Bight (BB), where their ecosystem or habitat are being altered, either by economic interests as well as for their own benefit. This research focuses on the collection of data taken in each established area, so monthly monitoring is performed in each assigned region and the comparison and analysis of the results. The format details the metric morphic data for each iguana that is captured: body mass (BM), snout length to sewer (SVL) and the length of the sewer to tail tip (TL); it also notes the height (in the mangrove or tree) they were in, the start time and the end of the monitoring.

Eco-leaders as volunteers in the monitoring.
Supervising each species.
Successful monitoring, wonderful job.

Beaches clean up

Utila is one of the three main islands of the bay island department in Honduras. This island is recognized as a sanctuary for marine life, in addition, to be declared as the best place to practice diving due to the environmental balance with which the island has.  Marine life on the island is being affected by a poorly called plastic caused by the low importance of people in caring for the environment. Utila is an island that works hard for the care of its flora, fauna and habitats among which the beaches are located. Remembering that it is visited during seasons by turtles, dolphins, whale shark among other marine animals that may be affected by plastics and other garbage.

In the face of this concern different organizations, volunteers, dive centers and the community in general develop beach clean-up frequently and thus help this island be considered pro-environmental care.

As an organization, Bay Islands Foundation through FFI funding, it conducts daily clean-up campaigns on three of Utila’s most important beaches, Chepe´s Beach, Pumpkin Hill Beach and Neptunes Beach. During each beach clean-up, volunteers are invited to share the cleaning, material collection experience and other, so they can see the damage done at each location. In September the cleaning of the aforementioned beaches began, this time with the participation of two staff members and three interns.

Pumpkin Hill Beach
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