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Protecting the Natural Environment

Cozumel Island is known for it's beautiful white sandy beaches and the crystal clear waters. More and more people come to Cozumel each year and experience the wonderful natural environment that it has to offer.

Cozumel is one of the world's top diving and snorkeling destinations. Let's all help preserve the environment and help to educate others in protecting the environment. 

Marine Park Rules 

Taken from sign put out by: PARQUE NACIONAL / COPRENAT / ANOAAT, A.C.
(Thanks to tat2chas/dermadiver.)

English version:

Mexican government declare a National Marine park on July 19, 1996; covering area of more than 11 thousand hectares including the beaches and waters between Paradise Reef and Chiqueros point.  The environmental, natural resource and fishing Secretariat SEMARNAP, administers the park.

The financing of the parks programs is shared by the federal government and the civil environmental groups; represented by COPRENAT, and the dive operators through ANOAAT.

Do your share to preserve the flora and fauna for future generations.

Corals are fragile.
Kicking, touching, dragging your gear causes damage, buoyancy control is your key to healthy coral.
Photographers in particular.
Take pictures without causing damage.
Marine organisms are protected by law.
Fishing, feeding the fauna and taking souvenirs is against the law.  Refrain from extracting or annoying the marine flora and fauna.
Help us prevent pollution.
Report fuel, oil, sewage and garbage spills to the National Park office.
Pressure your dive operator to instruct novice divers and divers without adequate buoyancy control, and to refuse service to destructive divers.
If you use gloves, do not grab the corals.
If you carry a knife, keep it in the sheath.
Use biodegradable sunblock products.

Please help us  DO YOUR SHARE!



What is coral? A basic introduction.

Coral is often mistaken for a rock or a plant. However, it is composed of tiny, fragile living organisms called coral polyps. The coral polyps take calcium carbonate or limestone from the sea and build protective structures around themselves. These protective limestone structures are known as coral. So when we say "coral" we are referring to coral polyps and the skeletons that they leave behind when they die.

What are coral reefs?

As coral polyps die, new generations of coral polyps then grow on top of the coral  and coral reefs are formed.

What's the Hype?

Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the planet's surface but are homes to over 25% of all marine life (over 4,000 different species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of other plants and animals). Coral reefs are among the world's most fragile and endangered ecosystems. "In the last few decades, mankind has destroyed over 35 million acres of coral reefs. Reefs off of 93 countries have been damaged by human activity. If the present rate of destruction continues, 70% of the world's coral reefs will be killed within our lifetimes." (The Coral Reef Alliance.)

Coral Reef Animals

  1. Sponges provide shelter for fishes, shrimps, crabs, and other small animals. 
  2. Sea anemones are close relatives of corals. 
  3. Bryozoans encrust the reef.
  4. Variety of worms, including both flatworms and polychaetes, Christmas tree worms, feather duster worms, bristleworms.
  5. Sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins. 
  6. Shrimps, crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans find protection from predators in crevices or between coral branches. 
  7. Octopuses, squids, clams, scallops, marine snails, and nudibranchs are all molluscs that live on or near the reef. 
  8. Both schooling and solitary fishes are essential residents of the reef ecosystem. 
  • Some species of sharks, skates, and rays live on or near the reef. 
  • Parrotfish use chisel-like teeth to nibble on hard corals. 
  • Wrasses comprise a large group of colorful cigar-shaped fishes. 
  • Eels are one of the reef's top predators. 
  • Other fishes found on the reefs include angelfishes, butterflyfishes, damselfishes, triggerfishes, seahorses, snappers, squirrelfishes, grunts, pufferfishes, groupers, barracudas, and scorpionfishes.
  • Sea turtles frequent reef areas.
  • Sea snakes.

A variety of human activities are driving the destruction of coral reefs:

  • growing coastal populations
  • shoreline and inland development
  • pollution from sewage, fertilizers, chemicals and sediment runoff
  • over-fishing and over-use
  • destructive fishing practices including poisons and explosives, and
  • ship groundings and anchor damage.

What can one individual do?

All Travelers

  • Don't buy coral souvenirs.
  • Support marine protected areas.
  • Don't order turtle, shark fin or other restaurant dishes made from threatened wildlife.
  • Avoid "live-fish" restaurants where the fish may have been captured using cyanide.
Divers & Snorkelers
  • Maintain control of fins, gauges and other equipment so they do not bump against the reef.
  • Practice diving in a pool or sandy area before diving near reefs.
  • Get trained by experts so that you can understand and enjoy your dives more.
  • Follow the marine park rules.
  • Educate others not aware of marine park rules when the opportunity arises.

Thanks to Burak of Albatros Charters, tt, The Coarl Reef Alliance, United States Coral Reef Task Force and Sea World that has provided information on this page.

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Copyright Travelnotes, Est. Jan. 1998. Member of Vaughan Chamber of Commerce.