Back in February this year, all activities involving snorkeling with the turtles were suspended by PROFEPA (Mexico’s Environmental Protection Agency). The decision came after the authorities evaluated the tour activities and the number of tourist swimming in the bay, confirming that the number of tourists was way higher than the maximum authorized.
Since the turtles and their ecosystem were endangered, the suspension of all activities was the only way to go, and the area was closed for swimming for 51 days, allowing the coral reef and seagrass to be restored, protecting the turtle sanctuary as well.
Just a few days ago there was a press release by CONANP (National commission for Protected Natural Areas), announcing the resuming of activities in Akumal Bay.
In this press release, they announced the measurements that will be taken from now on to ensure the wellbeing of this delicate ecosystem and its inhabitants.
Here’s a translation of such regulations. If you’re planning to visit the area soon, keep them in mind.
Akumal Bay is administrated by CONANP (National commission for Protected Natural Areas), PROFEPA (Federal Environment Protection Agency) and the SEMAR (Navy), who will keep surveillance on the area to guarantee the observance of the new regulations and maintain a number of tourists, allowing only 12 tourists per operator.
The new rules and regulations established by the CONANP are the following:
- Swimming with marine turtles can only be done between 9:00 and 17:00 hours.
- Tourists can only use the routes and schedule established by the CONANP.
- Tours will be carried out in groups up to 6 people and a guide authorized by the CONANP.
- Tourists can remain for a period no longer than 55 minutes on circuit one and 65 on circuit two.
- Access and exit of the sighting area will be done slowly and silently by walking on the beach.
- The equipment that must be used is a snorkel tube, mask, short fins, and life jacket vest that will not allow total immersion. The life jacket can never be substituted by another floating device such as waist or arm floaters.
- Only the use of biodegradable sun blocks and tanning lotions is permitted.
- The minimum distance between groups carrying out this activity is ten meters.
- Tourists must keep a distance of at least 3 meters behind the turtles, and not exceed observation time to more than five minutes.
- It is forbidden to touch, feed, chase, harass, annoy, retain, remove, hold and or harm any wildlife specimen.
- If the turtle shows any signs of rapid movement, evasion, any sudden change of direction, or prolonged immersion, the observation activities will be suspended immediately.
Akumal bay is a very important ecosystem that provides shelter to different species like the white turtle (Chelonia mydas), carey (Eretmochelys imbricata) and caguama (Caretta caretta), as well as several coral species and sea grass that help reduce the effects of climate change.
If you visit the area, do your part in the conservation of this fragile ecosystem; make sure to observe these regulations and attend the directions of your tour operator at all times!
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