Protect our Turtles

This petition made change with 110 supporters!

Dear friends,

The purpose of this online petition is inform you of the growing concern by the local community here in Roatan, Honduras regarding the research efforts being pursued by one of the professors at Loma Linda University. Stephen Dunbar, is researching turtles and is working towards capturing, tagging, and taking blood samples of the wild turtles which inhabit Roatan's waters. 

The objective of this petition is to ignite a call to action by Honduran lawmakers and those in key governmental offices to support the true conservation efforts of the dive and local community with the final objective of protecting the turtles which reside in the Bay Islands from invasive research practices.

Roatan is an island which relies on tourism. It is also within Honduras one of, if not the top tourist destination in the country. It plays a significant role in providing the government with funds from tourist dollars. There are many dive shops in Roatan who have participated in the data collection portion of this so called conservation research program led by Mr. Dunbar. The grunt work is being conducted by graduate students working on their respective dissertations. In attempts to make a name for themselves, they are willing to put the community’s livelihood at risk. It was not made clear that the final objective of this research was to capture and harass the turtles for the sake of conservation. Please note that we believe in conservation and the turtle sightings within the last 10 years has greatly increased in the western part of the island. This is due to the conservation efforts of the marine park as well as those of the dive and local community. Those of us who live and work in Roatan in the dive industry believe in conservation, protecting the reef and the creatures who live in it. We also rely financially on tourists which visit our island in large part due to the desire to go scuba diving. Many times, sighting a turtle is the highlight of the tourists' underwater experience. What the folks from Loma Linda University wish to pursue is well beyond mere observations. They want to capture the turtles, take them to the surface, tag them and take blood samples. Why such measures? And what guarantee is there that the turtles will continue to allow divers to approach them? What guarantee is there that this action will not have a direct adverse affect on turtle sightings? What guarantee is there that it does not negatively affect tourism? Should we allow this to happen and react after the study is conducted? Are we expected to sit by and react after the effects have taken place? A proactive approach is more along the lines of what some of us believe. The audacity to come here and shove this down our throats is a bit incomprehensible. The notion that we will stand idly by as this occurs is downright insulting. Would you not protect your community's livelihood? Apparently they have obtained a permit from the central government and believe they can conduct this research without the community’s approval. Now that the community is aware of it, we are on a scramble to prevent this from happening. Whom has granted the permit is being investigated and that individual along with the respective office which they represent will be consulted as to why? 

The goal in reaching out to the online community is for Honduran lawmakers and those in governmental agencies like Jerry Hynds (Honduran Senator of the Bay Islands), Ricardo Merren (Governor of the Bay Islands), Dorn Ebanks (Mayor of Roatan), and Emilio Silvestri (Director of the Honduran Institute of Toursim) to introduce a bill and garner support for the passing of such a bill which will prevent this and any future attempts to conduct invasive research in the Bay Islands on turtles. This process will likely be facilitated and brought to the forefront if we can establish strong support for such a measure. To make that happen, we ask for your help. Please join us in protecting the turtles in the Bay Islands of Honduras. 

There are parties involved who feel as if they can sell the assets of the Marine Park, as if they belonged to them in the first place. Their interest in self promotion has gone unchecked but they have gone too far. With your help, we can put an end to this in peaceful manner which benefits the community, the tourist, and the turtles. Ultimately it will be Hondurans doing what is right for Honduras and its interest with the help of our friends from around the globe. 

Thank you for your time and support.


Marco T. Alvarado



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