Meet Rodney Torres, Reef Protector. Rodney is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. I recently spent an afternoon with Rodney to talk about his passion for the reef, and his role in protecting it.
Why is it important to protect the reef?
I love to protect the reef! As I patrol the reef, I like to inform people about what they should, and should not, do in the water. Tourists are not aware our reef is a living organism and is damaged when they stand on it or touch it.
My job is to patrol and protect the reef, but I can tell you every day the reef is still being damaged. I think if we could implement more signage with ways to protect the reef on our beaches, and in dive shops and resorts, people will understand what they can do to help. If the reef dies, our upcoming generation will not get to experience the beauty of our reef and our economy will suffer.
What can people do to protect the reef?
Here’s what I tell people:
First and foremost, DO NOT TOUCH THE REEF! Oils from your skin, lotions and non-reef safe sunscreen disturb the membranes which protects the coral from disease. Remember the reef is a made up of thousands of tiny animals called coral polyps. They live on plankton and sunlight. When you touch it, the coral retracts to protect itself and is unable to eat.
Second, DISPOSE OF YOUR TRASH PROPERLY and you can stop the trash ending up in the reef. The Reef Clean Up Event in April pulled over 400 pounds of trash from the reef near West Bay alone.
Third, DO NOT REMOVE ANYTHING FROM THE SEA! I have found people breaking off pieces of fan coral to take home as a souvenir.
Fourth, if you are a first-time snorkeler, USE A GUIDE or ask a professional for help navigating to the best snorkeling areas. Make sure your equipment fits you properly before you leave shallow water.
By following these simple rules people can help protect the reef. in so many ways. Click here to review the Top 10 Ways You Can Protect the Reef.
What are your favorite things about the reef and Roatán?
I love to see how fish, turtles and conchs nourish from the coral reef. There is a deck near Black Rock I like to observe from. I can stand on the deck and see how the fish swim together in schools throughout the reef. I love to go out in my kayak, and make sure no one is damaging the reef by standing on the coral or breaking pieces off. I love Roatán because of its’ vibrancy of culture. I enjoy my job and all there is to see every day.
Together with Rodney and the Roatán Marine Park, the Abundant Life Foundation strives to protect and preserve the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. You can support our Conservation efforts by donating here. 100% of your donations go directly to our programs in Roatán.
Marketing Associate – Abundant Life Foundation – Roatán