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Travel Info > Interesting Facts and Tips for an Ecological visit to the Costa Maya

Protecting the coral

  • Make sure that sewage from your boat, from others' boats, and from land is correctly treated. The nutrients from sewage feed growing algae that can smother and kill corals.
  • Please take only your memories and not anything dead or alive from the sea. A touch, a step, or a kick with your fins will damage and may kill the corals. Kicking sand with your fins near the corals may cover them with sediment and they will suffocate.
  • Please do not buy, take from the sea or eat queen conch during mating season; it is a species in danger of extinction.
  • Take only pictures and leave only bubbles! Keep your fins' gear, and hands away from the coral, as this contact can hurt you and will damage the delicate coral animals. Stay off the bottom because stirred-up sediment can settle on coral and smother it.

Queen Conch - El Caracol Rosado (Strombus gigas) and Lobster season
Many people coming to the Mexican Caribbean look forward to fresh cooked Lobster and Conch civeche. However, please do not buy from restaurants and fisherman during the 6 months that they are restricted. It is against the law to buy, capture, transport, sell, eat or fish for Conch and Lobster during the months listed below. The penalties are extreme - up to nine years in prison and a substantial fine.

Conch May 1 - October 31
Lobster March 1 - June 30

The reasons for these are several. The Queen Conch is in danger of extinction due to over fishing. During the mating season, the Conch come close to the shore making capture very easy. When the density of conch is low, there aren't enough to mate and lay their egg sacs. Similarly the lobster mate and lay eggs during this season. The way that Lobster are often harvested makes it hard not to kill the lobster before it is caught. Once the Lobster is caught and it is identified as a female full of eggs, it is often so wounded that it cannot be returned to the wild. The best way to protect the species is to only buy during the 8 months that lobster are allowed.

Why are the Caribbean beaches white?
The beaches of the Caribbean originate from Parrotfish, who eat coral and grind it in their guts. The chalky residue secreted is a source of sand in the Caribbean.

Tips for protecting Sea Turtles
NOTE: Turtle Season in the Yucatan is April - November

  • Use a red lens over your flashlight. a White light may cause the female to abort the nesting process, or other sea turtles nearby may be discouraged from nesting if there are lights on the beach. Never shine a light in the sea turtle's face.
  • Do not take pictures using flashes. This high-intensity light can be even more disturbing than the flashlights.
  • Stay clear and out of sight of the turtle until she begins laying eggs, otherwise you may scare her back into the sea.
  • For your safety, stay away from the turtle's head. Sea turtles, especially loggerheads, have very strong jaws and can harm you if provoked.
  • Do not handle the eggs or put any foreign objects into the nest. You can introduce bacteria or injure the eggs.
  • Do not handle or ride the sea turtle. In addition to being illegal, you may injure the turtle or cause her to leave without finishing nesting.
  • Do not disturb tracks left by turtles. Researchers sometimes use the tracks to identify the type of turtles that nested and to find and mark the nests.
  • Do enjoy the experience and remember it for the rest of your life.

Importance of mangroves to the ecosystem.
Mangroves are thick groups of trees, which grow along the tropical coastal zones. They represent an essential ecosystem in the close relationship between terrestrial and marine life. Mayan Beach Garden borders a Mangrove forest where a multitude of birds and wildlife live.

Which kinds of mangroves are found in the Yucatan Peninsula?
Four species of mangroves live on the Peninsula: the red mangrove, the black, the white and the "botoncillo". The red ones grow near the coastal line; behind we find the black, next comes the white and finally the "botoncillo".

Why are the mangroves important?
Mangroves have several characteristics that make them an essential part of the coastal ecosystem, for example: Mangroves thrive in a mixture of salt and fresh water. Because they grow so close to one another, their roots and branches become large nets that work as filters, letting the water flow but stopping the harmful sediments, that damage the reefs. Mangroves provide food and refuge to many terrestrial and marine species. Some of the animals that spend part of their lives living in the mangroves are: sea stars, sponge, anemones, sea urchins, crabs, lobsters, iguanas, snakes, anteaters, lizards and many bird species. Besides their essential role in the equilibrium of the terrestrial and marine life, these ecosystems are very limited and in the extinction process, they are so fragile that any minor alteration puts them in great danger.

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Updated: 21-Jun-2011