Mexico’s Ch’ooj Ajauil AC or “Blue Realm” organization has partnered with members of the scientific community, as well as American NGO Seacology, the Georgia Aquarium and the Mote Marine Laboratory to prevent large vessels from colliding with marine life and eco-tourism boats in the whale shark migration path near Cancun and Isla Mujeres.
“This is a very important issue, one that requires multinational approaches to protecting whale sharks in the aggregation areas and migratory routes,” stated Robert E. Heuter, Ph.D., who serves as associate VP of research, directorate of marine biology and conservation director of shark research at the Mote Marine Laboratory, in a press release. “We must review government guidelines and make the necessary changes to provide a much safer environment for ships and marine life, while at the same time being the least disruptive to the economy in Mexico and elsewhere.”
Tourism related to the whale shark migration is big business in Mexico, with tens of thousands of visitors coming every year to witness the annual migration of these amazing creatures, which are an endangered species and the world’s largest fish. Tour operators in Cancun, Isla Mujeres, as well as other parts of the Riviera Maya, such as Playa del Carmen,Tulum,Puerto Morelos and Cozumel, will all benefit from the proposed shift in ship traffic lanes, which will reduce the chance of vessels colliding with ocean life, smaller boats and tourists.
The whale shark migration area is also home to a large number of manta rays, five species of dolphins, sailfish and sea turtles, to name only a few of the many species that make their homes in the warm waters of the Mexican Caribbean. Each year, a growing number of visitors come to Cancun and the Riviera Maya to experience a variety of ecotourism adventures, including swimming alongside the massive whale sharks.
“Our clients and guides provide information to the scientific community through photographs taken of the whale shark population,” shared John Vater, co-founder of Ceviche Tours. “We will continue to support the NGOs in the area and worldwide, as well as marine biologists from around the world,t o help bring awareness to the importance of preserving our ecosystem.”
Have you ever seen a whale shark or other large marine animal up close? If so, share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below!