A new "coral reef" Ramsar Site for Honduras

The offshore Sistema de Humedales de la Isla de Utila (16,226 hectares, 16o06’00”N 085o56’14”W) comprises the Bahía Islands Marine Park, which includes two Marine Special Protection Zones and one Wildlife Refuge. The importance of the site, which includes the Isla de Utila and surrounding waters, is based on its diverse and interdependent ecosystems, which are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and include coral reefs, marine grasses, mangroves, swamps, coastal lakes, rocky shores, hypersaline shallow waters, and floodplains, as well as above and below ground karstic systems. These ecosystems support numerous fauna and flora species including some endangered species such as the sea turtles Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas (green sea turtle), and Eretmochelys imbricata.

Endangered species of birds, fish and shellfish are also found, with what is considered to be the largest habitat and species diversity of the northwest Caribbean region of the Barrier Reef System. The Park also plays a vital role in supporting various species particularly during their first life stages. Utila Island is a tourism hotspot and is also a valuable and mostly unexplored archaeological site, having been home to Chibcha and Mesoamerican tribes; increasing tourist and urban development are considered to present potential threats. More information.