The Island of Roatan has a rich and vibrant biodiversity that is ideal for wildlife and nature conservation. It has been an economical factor for the local island population for many years past. Three major terrestrial ecosystems are rainforests, deciduous forests, and grasslands. The biodiversity of the tropical rainforest eco-system is home to many native birds, reptiles, and mammals. Roatan’s growing popularity has increasingly put pressure on its natural forest, seagrass areas, and the coral reef specifically.
Us green earth lovers are thrilled to learn many native trees thrive here. The Island’s native plants such as orchids, bamboo, gingers, and palms grow in the wild and are protected on the many National Parks here and at private establishments such as the Carambola Botanical Gardens. As you stroll the island beaches, you can expect to see coconut palms swaying in the breeze,
Another integral part of the Roatan’s biodiverse eco-system is the protected mangrove forests found throughout Roatan island. Mangrove forests are not only breeding grounds for a number of species but also nursery grounds for many baby species of fish and lobster while they grow until they are large enough to swim out to sea or live in other parts of the waters. Mangrove forests protect the island from storms and protect the reefs from the sediment runoff from clearing the rainforests and land on the island.
Roatan is home to a number of native birds – both land and sea, reptiles, and mammals. Many of these animals are protected such as the green iguana, and sea turtle. Less frequently seen are the crocodiles that reside in the mangrove forests and lagoon areas on the east end of Roatan. Several species of bats, the Agouti – a tiny-eared rabbit and Opossum along with White-tailed Deer roam freely on the forested areas around the island.
Port Royal National Park
Located on the East end of Roatan, the Municipality of Santos Guardiola is home to a magical and protected forested area. It is the only terrestrial protected area on the island of Roatan. The grounds support endemic fauna such as Yellow Napped Parrots, Guatuza (wa-tu-sa). and unique flora such as Pinus caribea. (Caribbean Pine trees) Many of our endangered species such as White Tail Deer and the Green Iguanas resides here. There is a spectacular panoramic view as you hike to the top of the mountain. The forest extends from Calabash Bight going east to the west area of Camp Bay. Nearby attractions include Camp Bay Beach
The reef being one of the largest draws for the island could not exist without the island itself is viable. The reef’s future thus depends not only on the management of the waters around the island but also on the land adjacent to it. The survival of the island’s forests, mangroves, and beaches have a direct relation with the condition of the island’s reef – the health and survival of waters of the Bay Islands Marine Park depend on sustainable management of its land.
Roatan’s Underwater World
Roatan is formed on the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean, its coastal sea-grass beds and opulent mangrove forests house the island’s diverse marine eco-system. The Bay Islands all 8 of them along with the many cays have a protected Marine Reserve encompassing them. With the islands, many associations, and foundations created to protect the lands and the seas we have so far created some of the Caribbean’s best diving. Those heading underwater may be lucky enough to see dolphins and whale sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, eels, caves, 1000-foot coral walls, and vibrant sea sponges. Don’t forget during the months of June through September whale sharks are seen in small groups as they migrate through the waters of Utila.