This month, REEF is proud to highlight one of our outstanding Conservation Partners: Villa on Dunbar Rock and Cabanas on Clark's Cay, sister resorts located in Guanaja, part of the Bay Islands of Honduras. REEF Conservation Partners are active organizations and dive shops dedicated to protecting marine environments. As valued REEF ambassadors, they teach fish ID classes, host survey dives, organize volunteer events and more. With more than 80 partners across the country and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities to engage. You can see the full listing of Conservation Partners or register your business or organization as a REEF Conservation Partner here: www.REEF.org/conservation-partners.
How does Villa on Dunbar Rock & Cabanas on Clark's Cay engage with REEF programs?
Lee Gano, Resort Operations: "We offer fish identification classes at both resorts. Our instructors and dive guides are very familiar with the local marine life and have fish, invertebrate, and coral identification books on hand for our guests to use. We promote REEF fish survey dives by having student packets in the gift shop, as well as a few extra that we can take on the boat if people are interested. As a level 3 surveyor, I try to dive with groups whenever possible and always have my survey slate with me, which always gets peoples' attention. Cabanas on Clark's Cay is also beginning to offer a REEF orientation night to introduce our guests to REEF's Volunteer Fish Survey Project.
We also conduct lionfish removals at both properties. Our dive guides carry pole spears and ZooKeepers on almost every dive, and teach our guests how to effectively remove lionfish without damaging the corals and other marine life. The best part is we bring them back to our chef who then serves many fantastic dishes like ceviche, grilled lionfish or breaded fish sticks. We have also worked with local fisherman to educate them about lionfish and helped create a bounty of two times the going rate per pound for lionfish. Guanaja has an annual Lionfish Tournament and each year we help sponsor and participate. We received 1st place in 2018! This year we will be organizing some special events in for the 3rd annual Lionfish Tournament during the week of Sept. 5-12, 2020.
What other actions do you take to promote ocean conservation?
Lee: "We are involved in many different ocean conservation initiatives. In 2015, we reestablished the mooring buoy system on the island by locating and installing around 40 moorings on the dive sites around the island. For the last four years, we have maintained and repaired the moorings.With the help and persistence of the Guanaja Municipality, we then established a marine park, which is funded by a marine park fee for all diving and snorkeling tourist of the island. We also print and distribute the marine park tokens. Currently, we are working with the local municipality on an expansion of the marine park, which has been submitted to the Honduran government and is pending approval.
In 2017, we purchased and donated a hyperbaric chamber and clinic to the island to help with treating the local fishers who dive for lobster. This indirectly established a positive relationship and better communication between the commercial fishing industry, tourism industry, and environmental organizations. We are working with the local government on the efforts to clean up and sink several derelict fishing boats that were destroyed during Hurricane Mitch, as an artificial reef system throughout the island. This project has been in the works for several years and we have spearheaded the project and will hopefully be sinking the first of many wrecks in 2020."
We are pleased to partner with Villa on Dunbar Rock and Cabanas on Clark's Cay to support marine conservation! For more information, visit their websites: Villa on Dunbar Rock and Cabanas on Clark's Cay, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter: @clarkscay and @dunbarrock.