Sir Richard Branson has been one of Mexico’s most outspoken fans for years,and he has a special affinity for the Riviera Maya,which stretches south from Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula along Mexico’s only Caribbean Coast. In fact,ever since Virgin America Celebrated its first direct flights into Cancun with much fanfare back in 2011,the world famous billionaire entrepreneur has been increasingly outspoken about the opportunities in this dynamic region.
“The Mexican Caribbean – all the way from Cancun through Playa del Carmen to Tulum – is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations,bringing with it countless opportunities and real estate bargains for savvy investors like Branson,” shared Richard Houghton of Investment Properties Mexico.
Considering Branson’s reputation as a world-class adventurer,perhaps its not surprising that his latest venture in the Mexican Caribbean involves partnering with renowned marine wildlife artist and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey to ask corporations and individuals to step up with them and sponsor either a shortfin mako shark or oceanic whitetip shark. The effort will aid research that is being conducted by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation in cooperation with the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University. According to a press release,the sharks will be released off the coast of Isla Mujeres,which lies just offshore from Cancun,in late March of this year as part of a six-month event that’s been dubbed the Great Shark Race.
Both Harvey and Branson have signed up for the one-of-a-kind “race,” which is actually an innovative way for researchers to attract funding for satellite tags that will enable them to follow the sharks on the Internet in near real time as they travel through the open sea. Participants can sponsor a shark for $5,000 and follow it online at www.ghritracking.org as it “competes,” to see which animal travels the farthest in six months. The winner will receive a Guy Harvey original painting,a trip to the Florida Keys and other prizes.
“This is a great way for people or corporations to get directly involved with cutting-edge shark research,” stated Guy Harvey,Ph.D. in a CBS interview. “Plus,participants can promote their support and have bragging rights as family,friends and business associates follow their own shark online.”
Although undeniably fun,the race was created as a way to draw attention to the effects of overfishing and also to the incredibly long distances these sharks travel through the waters of many different countries. According to Mahmood Shivji,Ph.D.,professor at NSU’s Oceanographic Center and Director of NSU’s Guy Harvey Research Institute,there have been large reductions and declining population trends in both shortfin mako and oceanic whitetip sharks in recent years.
“Both species are known to travel long distances,but hardly anything is known about the details of these movements in terms of their timing,orientation,scales of movement,differences between sexes and sizes and what factors drive these migrations,” shared Shivji. “This knowledge is essential for developing effective conservation measures,such as time and area closures for shark fisheries.”
According to the report,Branson is pushing for all Caribbean nations to pass legislation that will protect the sharks within the next five years as part of the Nature Conservancy’s Caribbean Challenge Initiative.
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