Cozumel’s Coral Reefs
The coral reefs off the coast of Cozumel are part of the Mesoamerican Reef—the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. Corals and wildlife are connected across the Mesoamerican Reef, so what happens in Cozumel can affect coral reefs and communities in other nearby countries.
But like in many areas along the Central American Caribbean coast, coral reefs in Cozumel are in trouble. Unsustainable tourism and overfishing damage critical habitat and remove important wildlife that help keep coral reefs healthy.
In 2019, Cozumel received 4.2 million visitors from cruise ships alone. While visitors come for the beautiful blue waters and white sand beaches, the influx of tourists and the businesses to support those tourists place a heavy burden on Cozumel’s coral reefs.
We partner with local businesses in Cozumel, and along the Quintana Roo coastline, to advocate for sustainable tourism practices. With Amigos de Sian Ka’an and Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, or CONANP), we educate tourism providers and dive operators on the importance of protecting coral reefs and sustainable business practices.
We are also part of the MAR Network, a group of stakeholders from across the Mesoamerican region that work together to address environmental challenges and concerns. Through the network, we developed a set of criteria and a methodology for assessing environmental needs across popular tourism destinations in the region, including Cozumel, Belize City, and the Bay Islands in Honduras. We use those assessments to find commonalities across the region and build regional collaborations to address common environmental concerns and issues.
Do you smell that? It’s the stench of rotting eggs…lingering for half a mile inland from the Caribbean shoreline. It’s a stinky reality of this year’s sargassum bloom, or in other words, the overload of seaweed that is washing up on beaches in parts of Mexico, Honduras, Belize, and other nearby areas. What is Sargassum?… Continue Reading →
Sandy white beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs—it’s the type of travel destination that many of us dream of. Vacation season is quickly approaching and soon, millions of eager tourists will pack their bags and flock to some of the world’s most beautiful, sought-after destinations. But increased popularity means many of the natural resources… Continue Reading →
Together with our partners, we trained nearly 130 tourism operators on best practices for coral reef conservation throughout México, Belize and Honduras this year. Each year, about 22 million people visit Quintana Roo, México. The Caribbean coastline offers beautiful clear blue waters, white sand beaches, and easy access to the second-largest reef system in the… Continue Reading →
CORAL and partners have developed this “Train the Trainers” program for tour guide operators in the Mesoamerican Reef to more effectively educate tourists about coral reefs and how to protect them. The resources below all encompass the Train the Trainers program. Video Presentations These four Modules cover a number of topics, including reef biology and… Continue Reading →
This set of educational cartoons teaches snorkelers, divers, and boat operators the “do’s and don’t’s” of sustainable coral reef tourism. Please feel free to share this resource.
Coral reefs are among the world’s most spectacular ecosystems. As coral reefs face an increasing number of threats, coral reef visitors can play an important role in helping protect these vulnerable habitats. Follow these simple guidelines to become a “coral friendly” diver/snorkeler.