Q & A with CEA,
The following questions were submitted by concerned people. CEA, Centro Ecologico Akumal, in Akumal provided the answers. We are sharing these with our readers, and encouraging others to share your questions and concerns.
Question July 2009
We are coming to your area around july 17. We have 20 people in are party and was hoping you could recommend an outfit with a nice boat that could take us all out ( preferably in the same boat) for about a 3 hour snorkeling tour.
Thanks for your time,
Thank you for your question. Boats are not needed for snorkeling in Akumal. You may hire a tour guide (recommended for a group) from either one of the two dive shops in Akumal Bay or from one of the independent operators right in front of the dive shop. Please do not hire a taxi or van driver as these are unauthorized operators.
You may hire boats for touring in the open waters along the coast, but not for inside any bays in Akumal.
Please do divide any large group into smaller groups, this is more manageable, within the "best practices" guidelines, and part of Akumal Bay rules - 8 people per tour guide, no more than 16 people together at once. Too many people in a bundle only scares of the wildlife and creates lots of stirring up of sand and then no one sees anything.
Finally, please use as little sunblock as possible, biodegradable, and never touch wildlife.
Peaceful observation during snorkeling offers many opportunities to witness the beauty of the bays without destroying anything.
I hope your group enjoys your visit.
Question March 2009
My name is Peter and me, my girlfriend and a friend were at youre place
today (saturday) and left a little turtle we found down in Tulum. We are
very interested in how it´s going for the little fellow since he was very
weak when we found him laying in the sand, probably flushed to shore by
the waves. He was very dry and didn´t move much so we put him on sand in
the shadow and flushed him with water often so hi kept moist. Was that the
best way or should we do something else if we find another in the future?
We are also interested in if it was a hawksbill turtle? age? gender etc?
Thanks for taking care of the little one for us and hope he grows strong!
Thank you very much for bringing the turtle to us. We delivered it to the Xcaret turtle hospital. You are correct, it seemed to be dehydrated and to not have eaten, from all the waves. This happens when there are lots of waves from the strong winds.
Yes, it did appear to be a Hawksbill turtle.
We will find out in a few days how it is doing.
Also, we hope to have our own recovery facilities for sea turtles in the future, once we get the funding to establish the tanks, etc.
Thanks again for your help and interest in sea turtle conservation.
PS Just to add something, we were talking about this again the other day and it seems that a lot of the turtles washing up at this time of year may have to do with the strong surface winds at sea, making it harder for the younger turtles to navigate. They become exhausted and cannot eat or rest as they should, and end up washing to shore.
Please let us know if more wash up in your area. We had one wash up last week here in Akumal - a Hawksbill.
Thanks again for your concern.
Question February 2009
where does the information collected
from the turtles go? Is it used just in Mexico or does it get
The data collected from all the
turtle programs in Mexico, from each "turtle camp" goes
through regional committees to the Wildlife Agency of the Ministry of
the Environment. The data is then kept there. It would be good to be
able to get national data out to everyone, but this would require
some work by someone, perhaps doing a thesis on the subject.
Paul Sánchez-Navarro Russell
Question: January 2009
We live on the Costa Maya, south of Mahahual, and enjoy your newsletter.
Occasionally a group of rental quads will drive full speed along the
beach in front of our house. Are there any federal laws regarding this
activitiy? There is some turtle nesting in the area, but have seen
The federal laws are not clear on this, but in most areas it is not allowed.
You are correct to mention the turtle nests, as the ATVs may have a negative impact on the nests, compacting the sand each time they pass over a nest, thus making it more difficult for the hatchlings to reach the surface. In addition, if the vehicles are passing at the moment a nest is hatching, there is potential for direct impact to live turtles. Also, the noise scares the nesting mothers away, perhaps driving them away for good. Finally, the constant use of vehicles on the beach diminishes the sand quality for all living organisms that depend on healthy beach habitat.
One way to limit any ATV businesses, if they are tours, for example, is to apply for and maintain the federal zone concession through ZOFEMAT in SEMARNAT. As a beachfront property owner, one may pay for the concession of "protection" and thus limit any commercial activities on this federal zone, including ATV tours. All commercial business must then have your written permission to use your concession. This has been a useful tool for us in Akumal, to limit the number of commercial tours crossing our property to go to the bay.
I hope this answers some of your questions.
Please contact me if you have any further questions. Also, please stop by if you are in Akumal.
All the best for 2009
Question: December 2008
What are some astonishing things you have seen tourist do in Akumal Bay?
I could not believe eymyes when I went out for a snorkel the other day and saw a tourist sitting on a turtle while her husband was taking pictures. This may seem absurd and just plain wrong to many, but it is a perfect example of why we must continue to educate people about these magnificent animals and the need to protect them and the bay.
I understand that to protect the turtles, night snorkeling with lights is not allowed. Can you tell me which months night snorkeling is allowed?
Hello, how are all of you? My husband and I are very much missing beautiful Akumal and all of the marine life it has to offer. I have attached a picture from our last visit back in May, and I was wondering if you have any idea what kind of fish this is? I have done much research to try to find the name of it and would appreciate any feedback. I am in school right now studying to be a science teacher and would like to write a paper on it. I hope everyone is well, and we hope to soon be back next year to see you all and to see the Sea Turtles. You all do such a great job!
Is an intermediate stage of a Yellowtail damselfish (Microspathodon chrysurus), because of the yellow tail, not a juvenile.
-Reef Fish ID - Florida Caribbean Bahamas by Paul Humann & Ned Deloach
-Reef Coral ID - Florida Caribbean Bahamas by Paul Humann & Ned Deloach
these books are the ones we use as reference for identification in our surveys; you can get them online.
Saludos from Akumal!
Joel, Reef Monitoring Program
Question: August, 2008
I was stopped by the demonstration last night and was told that CEA along with the Lol Ha were paying guards to stop locals and charge them $80 pesos to access the beach. Is this true? It's illegal for one thing but it is morally reprehensible for another. Certainly, if it is true, your supporters should know about it...if you have anything you would like to say I'd appreciate a response.
CEA does not block access to locals to go to the beach and it does not charge them. The guard was placed at the entrance to the beach from the road to stop all COMMERCIAL activity going to the bay. As property owners, CEA may legally do this. Access is guaranteed by law to individuals, not businesses. Too many companies are bringing tours to Akumal bay to snorkel and they are damaging the area, harassing the turtles and do in no way benefit the local economy. Several local actors want to keep the heat going for their own political interests and therefore are making false claims against CEA. Our efforts are to protect the local environment and make sure that Akumalians can enjoy it, without destroying it. CEA does charge for parking and bathrooms because it costs quite a lot of money to keep the area clean and in service (water costs, property taxes are paid, etc.) and if there is no charge, people traditionally trash the place (we have experimented). We are now trying to work with the local people to first inform them well of the matters and second, to involve them in the solutions so that Akumal can remain the incredible place that it is. Thanks for your interest in the area.
Paul, CEA director.
QuestionWe have been visiting Akumal Bay for a few years now and love it. However, many tourists (including ourselves) have recently been very disappointed with how many boats and snorkel tours are in the bay. You can see at least 30-40 boats on any given day. This is both an eyesore and a huge danger to people snorkeling and swimming in the water. I know there are regulations in place to restrict the boats, but I firmly believe it's going to take a person's DEATH to really regulate what's going on in that bay.
Is there any way you all can take steps to make Akumal Bay a protected area with more boat regulations? I have read many messages on internet sites from people who will not return to Akumal Bay due to the boat overcrowding and dangers that come along with them.
Ultimately, without better regulations, the Akumal area is going to pay a high price, both in the deterioration of the reef and fewer tourist dollars to fund the local economy.
Thank you for reading this and considering these suggestions....
Answer Dear Mary,
Thank you for your message and concern. We are struggling to do exactly what you mention, create a protected area and regulate boat activities more.
We have presented a proposal to the Ministry of the Environment and have defined limits to the number of boats with the local Port Captain. Now it is a matter of implementing what we have agreed upon, within the current legal framework, until we do get some federal legal area protection defined.
This is not an easy process, as you expierenced, so many people want to make money on such a limited space, so balancing economics and environment is the challenge we face. Hopefully, we will have stronger protection measures in place soon as we will all be able to see positive changes in Akumal bay.
Again, thank you for letting us know your thoughts.
Hotel Akumal Caribe
On Akumal Bay, in the heart of Akumal.
Akumal’s unique bay with its clear, blue-green waters and glistening white sand beaches that never burn your feet is breathtaking, inviting and uncrowded. And it’s the safest bay for children of all ages. Nearby, in the tropical jungle are easily-accessible ruins of the mysterious Mayan civilization, which flourished centuries ago.