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LLU-ESSE21 LULC Module banner - Case Study No. 2
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Virtual Tour - Image No. 1: Isla del Tigre

Before doing the virtual tour review the materials in Step No. 1 (Pedagogical Background). Then start by clicking on points No. 1-10 to learn more about each training site; visit all or any of the points in any order to learn more. This will give you background for doing a supervised classification exercise as explained in the LAB GUIDE. See also Gulf of Fonseca TOPO map (Large 13 MB) - Isla del Tigre LARGE IMAGE (1 MB) - see also GOOGLE Earth location placemark and Honduras Geology (Rob Rogers).

Point 7 Point 8 point point 6

Source: Digital Globe (Nov. 28, 2003) see GOOGLE Earth location placemark.
Gulf of Fonseca TOPO map (Large 13 MB) - LARGE IMAGE (1 MB)

Stop #1

13.272 N  87.641 W


The top left aerial photo shows the town of Amapala on Isla del Tigre a 5-km-wide island across a narrow strait south of Isla Zacate Grande in the Gulf of Fonseca of Honduras--see GOOGLE Earth location placemark. Note the main pier and church circled on the aerial photo.

The bottom three photos show the view from the pier:

  • (left) looking out into the Golfo de Chismuyo and the small Island of Esposicion which is part of a nature reserve of small islands,
  • (center) looking back toward the volcano on Isla del Tigre (a stratovolcano 783m or 2,569 feet elevation) and,
  • (right) some of the old customs buildings and warehouses along the waterfront of this historic old port. The statue (top right) is in the small central square facing the church.

As explained in the Introduction to the case study, Amapala has declined considerably since the new port of San Lorenzo was established. An excellent medium-priced place to stay is the Hotel Mirador de Amapala located in the small bay just to the east of town close to the beginning of the wonderful rural trail noted on the aerial image above. Along this unofficial walking or biking trail (a small dirt road) is a great place for birding and exploring the quiet countryside. It returns to the circular paved road that goes around the island. Walking back to town will take you past the cemetary and other sights. To learn more about conservation issues in this area. See: Plan de Manejo Bahia de Chismuyo.pdf by CODDEFFAGOLF and PROARCA/USAID.

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Stop #2


pic Isla del Tigre


The photos above show some of the fishing boats and homes along the small bay east of the main town. The bottom left photo is taken from the upper veranda of the Hotel Mirador de Amapala looking back toward the Church in the town of Amapala. See also one of the few large remnant Ceiba trees that can be seen along the walking trail noted on the aerial image.

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Stop #3

Isla del Tigre


If you take the walking trail noted on the aerial image above (starting from the Hotel Mirador de Amapala) you will end up in a large open quarry where locals have extracted volcanic lava soil and rock. This provides an excellent perspective on the many different layers of ash, lava rock dating back into Holocene times of this stratovolcano--read more about the volcano at the Global Volcanism Program - see GOOGLE Earth location placemark:

  • IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior.
  • Williams H, McBirney A R, 1969. Volcanic history of Honduras. Univ Calif Pub Geol Sci, 85: 1-101
  • See also Honduras Geology (Rob Rogers)

This is also an excellent point to look over the Gulf of Fonseca toward San Lorenzo (beyond the small craters and islands seen in the middle bottom photo above). The right bottom photo shows a sunset from near San Lorenzo looking back toward the islands of Isla del Tigre and Sacate Grande.

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Stop #4


An example of the many commercial shrimp farming and salt evaporation ponds  now expanding into critical mangrove areas of the Gulf of Fonseca southern Honduras. Aquatic and terrestrial bird sanctuary of El Jicarito along the Gulf of Fonseca in southern Honduras.


The small fishing villages and beaches of Playa El Mora and Playa Gualorita have an excellent view back across the strait to Sacate Grande and Coyolito--the smallboat embarcation point on the mainland. Note the small area of protected mangrove (middle left photo) which of course is found much more extensively on the mainland around the entire Golfo de Fonseca and is at its most pristine within the Bahia de Chismuyo--See: Plan de Manejo Bahia de Chismuyo.pdf by CODDEFFAGOLF and PROARCA/USAID.

The LANDSAT IMAGE HERE provides an excellent view of the many protected mangrove wetlands in the region and their excellent birding opportunities. See--BIRDING HONDURAS (Route #5--Pacific Coast). Much of this coast is protected under the global RAMSAR wetlands convention. See quote below from the RAMSAR website (below):

Ramsar Convention celebrates its 1000th Ramsar site - The Government of Honduras has designated the world’s 1000th Wetland of International Importance, as of 10 July 1999...". The new Ramsar site, "Sistema de Humedales de la Zona Sur de Honduras" (Wetlands system of the southern region of Honduras), is a complex of seven coastal areas totaling 69,711 hectares along the Honduran portion of the Golfo de Fonseca: Bahía de Chismuyo, Bahía de San Lorenzo, Los Delgaditos, Las Iguanas y Punta Condega, Jicarito, San Bernardo and La Berbería, along the Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano Pacífico de Honduras.

Unfortunately, many of the protected mangrove swamps in the area are being removed to put shrimp farms and salt evaporation ponds--see bottom left photo above. Note also the birds in an emptied shrimp-farm in the right middle photo above. The bottom right photo is from the Jicarito Reserve within the coastal belt closer to Choluteca, Punta Raton Wildlife Reserve (site for sea turtles) and the Cedeño beach resort.

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Stop #5



The top of the stratovolcano of Isla del Tigre (elevation 783 meters) has a central summit crater partially cutout on one side (see lava gulley or excentric vent) noted on the aerial image above left. See GOOGLE Earth location placemark. See Global Volcanism Program description - El Tigre.

At one time there were important radar stations on the summit--today a radio and TV tower remain and their is a walkable trail to the top (see image)--from Stop No. 9 in the village of Playa Grande. Hafway up the trail to the summit one passes another crater (on the map known as Laguna Seca--see MAP). This was likely a lateral vent of the volcano and is filled with a fairly dense stand of vegetation. Farther downslope near the Navy Base (Stop No. 10) is another crater (satellitic cone called El Vigia) known as Laguna de Agua (see map) because the pond contains water during the rainy season.

The bottom two photos show a fairly dense, highly structured fragment of Neotropical Dry Forest just below the summit within the lava gulley or radial fissure. The best view of this forest fragment is from near Playa Negra on the western side of the island (see Stop No. 8). Locals say this forested slope is one of the best places to see birds and other rare species remaining on the island associated with the Dry Tropical Forest (more below).

The left middle photo shows the rather well-preserved Pacific Dry Tropical Forest on the north-facing slope as seen along the ringroad between Stop No. 3 and Stop No. 4. You can also see some of the radial fissures extending down from the central summit crater that are now filled with dense dry tropical forest vegetation. The middle picture (2nd row) shows the view of the summit as seen from the Port of Amapala and the right middle photo shows the slope as seen from near the Navy Base (Stop No. 10).

Read more about the conservation issues facing this endangered ecosystem from: Ariel Lugo, Tropical Dry Forests and Ecosystems--see also BIOTROPICA 37(4): 477–485 2005. Research Priorities for Neotropical Dry Forests. Sanchez-Azofeifa, Quesada, Rodriguez, Nassar, Stoner, Castillo, Gamon, and Cuevas-Reyes. See also Honduras Geology (Rob Rogers) and Global Volcanism Program description - El Tigre.


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Stop #6:



On the south side of Isla del Tigre between Playa Brava and Playa Islitas (see MAP) are two small offshore volcanic outcrops (islitas which means "small islands")--see middle two photos above. These "islets" provide excellent examples of volcanic bombs (Tephra explosive deposits) and other exposed lava flows. Other good places to view the layers of ash, tepha, lava are easily accessible along major road cuts into the slope above this small bay (see both photos above below the aerial images). There is also a small side road going upslope from near the maize field noted on the image which provides excellent access to the forested slopes above in some of the radial fissures extending down from the central summit crater. See also Honduras Geology (Rob Rogers) and Global Volcanism Program description - El Tigre.


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Stop #7:



There are very few places on the island where well-structured lowland rainforest vegetation types can still be observed. The forest fragment noted on the images above are some of the best remaining. Note the multi-storied structure, lianas and other characteristics of this forest.

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Stop #8


After passing the forest fragment (see Stop No. 7) if you continue on the ringroad (going clockwise around the island) you will come to the small community of Playa Negra--see MAP (downslope on a side road)--the main road remains up on a plateau. The name Playa Negra comes from the dark-black volcanic sand which makes up the beaches found here.

Just beyond the community is a private road to the Hotel Villa Playa Negra resort and time-share condos (part of Las Loma Vacation Club International)--bottom right photo. Nearby on a prominent point is a large processing plant (see bottom left photo above). Looking back up the mountain you can see prominently the large radial fissure eminating from the central summit crater and the dense forest fragment located in this gulley--middle bottom photo (see also Stop No. 5 - bottom two photos).

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Stop #9



Continuing around the island (clockwise) one comes to the community of Playa Grande (see MAP) which is an important fishing community and location of local B&Bs (bed and breakfast) facilities. The sandy beach is less dark and more extensive. looking toward the north end of the beach you see the prominent forested point (a protected area) which includes sea caves that you can get to by boat or at low tide by walking along the rocky shore. These caves are an example of a lava tube.

Upslope from Playa Grande there is a small track/trail that leads to the summit crater and TV towers shown in Stop No. 5--it also provides access to forested dry crater (Laguna Seca)--see MAP or see GOOGLE Earth location placemark.

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Stop #10



There is a small navy base located on Isla del Tigre just south of Amapala--see aerial image above. Nearby is the crater of El Vigia (see more dicussion at Stop No. 5). During the wet season there is a pond within the crater and its forested slopes provide excellent birding sites. See--BIRDING HONDURAS (Route #5--Pacific Coast). Much of this coast is protected under the global RAMSAR wetlands convention.


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(Under Construction)

Revised: Robert E. Ford, October 25, 2012