Touring the Mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca

releasing baby turtles in Honduras
The Playa el Venado Turtle Conservation Station in Marcovia Choluteca

This past week I had the opportunity of touring the mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca. Honduras has the best-preserved mangrove forests in the Pacific coast of Central America. These are all within the Gulf of Fonseca that Honduras shares with Nicaragua and El Salvador. I was there thanks to an invitation by Swiss Contact, with the contribution of Global Affairs Canada. Our tour started from Playa El Venado, a small community in the municipality of Marcovia, within the department of Choluteca.


Gulf of Fonseca
Sunrise in the mangrove forests in the Gulf of Fonseca

The community is very focused on conservation of their local environment. They run a center for the protection of turtles. I visited them as part of an experience to participate in releasing baby turtles in Honduras. This activity has become more and more popular, and during the months of October and November generates a fair number of tourists from within Honduras. We spent the night at Cabañas Mar Pacifico. Because tides are quite dramatic in the Pacific Coast of Honduras, we needed to depart by 5:00 am for our tour. This would give us enough time for the two-hour tour of the mangroves.


Gulf of Fonseca
Boy fishing in the Gulf of Fonseca.

So, we got up before the crack of dawn and were on our way before sunrise. A full moon lit up the canals and allowed us to find our way navigating through the mangrove canals. A spectacular sunrise lit the sky with colors as we navigated out of the canals to the Pacific Ocean. A cool breeze and flat ocean made navigating very enjoyable. Slowly, fishermen from the area set off from their villages for a day of work at sea. There is mostly artisan fishing in the area. No large fishing boats, rather many small boats with one or two fishermen. We even got see one with a young boy, no more that 12 or 13 years old going out to the sea to fish on his own!


Birdwatching in the Gulf of Fonseca Mangroves

Mangroves
Mangrove Canals in the Gulf of Fonseca

Because of the early hours, many birds were still in their nests high in the forests. We could see them as they lazily got up to look down on us. They were still too sleepy to try and fly away, so we got a good look at them all.  The Mangroves in the Gulf of Fonseca provide a perfect habitat for many different species of birds, both resident and migratory. Jokingly I asked Don Jorge, our guide if they were Honduran or Nicaraguan, because we were close to the border. He answered that they did not have any nationality. They are smarter that humans, who create borders and then fight over them! Talk about a wise, humble man from the sea!


Birding in the gulf of Fonseca
Egret on Cayuco in the Gulf of Fonseca

The Gulf of Fonseca has many different options to tour the mangroves. Perhaps the largest area is the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bahia de Chismuyo. This is on the opposite side of the Gulf of Fonseca where we were. You can also tour the mangroves areas near San Lorenzo. Wherever you are in the Gulf of Fonseca, you can arrange for tour of the mangroves. I recommend that you do! If you are a bird watcher, make sure you bring your binoculars and bird check list with you! Who knows, you may find that elusive bird you have been trying to see for a long time!


Following is a short list of some of the many birds we saw! Unfortunately, we were not carrying binoculars and therefore did not keep proper track of our sightings.

  1. Magnificent Frigatebird
  2. Gull-billed Tern
  3. Brown Pelican
  4. Great Egret
  5. Wood Stork
  6. Little Blue Heron
  7. Green Heron
  8. Common Tern
  9. White tipped Dove
  10. Bat Falcon