The United Nations Organization estimates that by 2050 the world could run out of coral reefs.
This is an estimate that we should all fear, especially since corals have an incalculable value in marine ecosystems. In fact, they are the habitat of 25% of marine species, including those for human consumption, and they protect the coast from erosion and tsunamis. Furthermore, they produce a significant amount of oxygen for the planet and reduce greenhouse gases.
Rubén Vázquez, Operational Supervisor of Snorkel Native Park, tells us that climate
change is causing increases in ocean temperatures and causing corals to become
stressed and damaged. These changes in conjunction with careless tourism activities like the use of sunscreen by snorkelers produces what is known as coral bleaching.
“When we see white corals it means they are dying and they very rarely recover”
Coral bleaching is an isolated and relatively new phenomenon. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, between 2014 and 2017 around 75% of tropical coral reefs worldwide were victims of stress due to sufficiently higher temperatures capable of causing bleaching.
Snorkel Native Park is an important tourist destination located 30 minutes from Cancun in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, that offers an exclusive beach club and team of professional guides that take visitors from around the world to two of the best preserved and largest reefs in America where they can partake in snorkel activities.
Since their beginnings, Snorkel Native Park has been engaged in the protection of coral reefs – beginning with information. Each group of visitors are accompanied by
passionate guides who educate them on current biodiversity issues and help to spread information to change mindsets and to protect these important ecosystems. Reviewing topics like how to be careful and not to physically hurt underwater surfaces and how to ban the use of chemicals such as sunscreens (biodegradable or not) the guides help visitors to become more aware of and appreciate their surroundings.
Currently, Alltournative and Snorkel Native Park are working shoulder to shoulder with the National Fishing Institute (INAPESCA) and the National Park in a massive coral planting project with a nursery called Native Reef 1.
The sowing process begins by gathering a collection of elk horn coral fragments that serve as donors. They are placed in the nursery where we wait for them to grow independently. Once they mature, they are transplanted to dead underwater surfaces with a special concrete that allows for the growth and formation of new colonies over time.
The strategic selection of the Elk Horn coral was due to the fact that this type of coral allows for growth of other types of coral as well. The professional team at Snorkel Native Park, led by Rubén Vázquez, is extremely happy about the amazing effects that the Native Reef 1 nursery has had on the surrounding environment – one that he is in charge of.
Currently the nursery can be visited as part of the park’s snorkeling tours to generate more awareness and teach tourists a new restoration alternative.
Remember that it is very important to avoid taking from nature more than we can give. This is the secret of change.