The El Dorado Royale & Spa, Casitas and Generations resorts by Karisma – located in Mexico’s Riviera Maya – have created an artificial reef known as " Kankanán: The Guardian of the Caribbean" which will be the world’s largest artificial reef, spanning an area of nearly two kilometers along the coast in the Mexican Caribbean. Construction began on the artificial reef in October of 2013 and according to project leaders it will be completed by December of this year. The aim of the project is to support marine life that is found throughout the area, in addition to protecting the hotel complex from waves and storms.
"We want to give back to the sea and this is a way of being kind to the ecosystem," said Manuel Alfonso Jesús Barrero Gutierrez, who is the architect responsible for the work.
The project will effectively create an artificial habitat that will produce 22,000 metric tons of marine biomass, ie. fish, corals and invertebrates, every year and thereby create a new tourist attraction in addition to the environmental benefits.
Kankanán is located in the marine area adjacent to the El Dorado Royale & Spa in Punta Brava Puerto Morelos, just south of Cancun. Each reef pile measures 2.75 meters high and is made with a specific marine micro silica-based material that is environmentally friendly and installed 40 meters from the beach.
The Environmental Impact Statement (number 23QR2011TD078) authorized by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), mentions that artificial reefs will be an ongoing effort in Mexico, where future survival depends largely on the weather conditions, and will target the formation of a new coral community, with species-associated flora and fauna, totaling an investment of $2 million dollars.
"The structures are subject to the ravages of nature like other marine elements, including natural reefs," revealed the document.
Background research for the project shows that it was spurred on by damage from hurricanes in 2005 and 2007, when sand was deposited on the El Dorado Royale & Spa property, thereby causing extensive damage to facilities as well as the natural mangrove.
Mitigate beach erosion
This situation led to a dilemma regarding how to manage the accumulated material. On one hand, if the material were left in the mangrove, the natural biological activity would be diminished by the lack of nutrients. Also, because the material was mixed with peat, the location of it along the coast visually affected the appearance of the beach and could eventually compromise the quality of water in the near shore marine area.
In short, the Kankanán reef project was designed to mitigate the hydrodynamic changes that are produced by the changing tide and weather phenomena, thereby reducing the spatiotemporal variability of beachfront property in this part of Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
According to experts, the material the new reef is made of includes cement and lightweight structures that are hollow inside. This creates a safe haven for aquatic species via the generation of an artificial reef similar to the natural environmental conditions of the area, which is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef.
“For more than 5 years, the resorts from the hotel chain El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels by Karisma, have worked toward the preservation of Mother Nature,” writes Mexico News Network. “The hotel chain accomplishes this by reusing consumables, classifying trash, using environmentally-friendly materials, reforesting the beaches, saving electric energy in the rooms and building a huge artificial reef, whose purpose is to reduce erosion.”