The Campaign To Secure The Whale Shark In The Yucatan






by Frank D. Gardner


Let Us Help Protect The Whale Shark!

Experts in Merida Yucatan warned that maintaining the health of the environment is vitally important for the species.

According to Notimex news release, institutions from various disciplines, along with Conanp have worked in the past seven years studying ways to promote the conservation of whale sharks off the coast of Yucatan, since this species is now a vital source of income for the economy of thousands of families.

From 2005, the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) Merida Unit, Yucatan Peninsula Pronatura, Conanp, The Nature Conservancy, and also tourism agencies carry out the "The whale sharks habitat characterization and monitoring in the northeastern coast of Yucatan".

Two areas can be identified as most important for the species, which are established from the studies within range and abundance of the whale sharks in the northern part of the Mexican Caribbean.

High concentrations of zooplankton as well as other nutrients are found in these areas which provide and support the idea of using the area as the whale sharks feeding site, of which shows a preference for feeding on certain zooplankton groups.

This place is deemed having to do with high productivity of zooplankton around the globe, which gives shelter to numerous varieties of ecological and economic importance, including manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, commercial fish and lobsters.

As a result, specialists taking part in this project notify that conserving the favorable condition of the area has gained increased significance in the conservation policy agenda, not simply nationally, but globally.

Studies done by Cinvestav and the Natural Commission of Protected Natural Areas or (CONANP) aim to make people aware and understand the role of whale sharks in the marine environment, and people should make use of this knowledge in order to guarantee their survival.

The findings of Peninsula de Yucatan Pronatura state that,"Even if there's progress in some aspects of the species' biology and ecology and in the operative management actions as well, there is still much to investigate and implement".

The Resources To Fund The Program

Though it has made the most out of the presence of this species in the Mexican Caribbean, the problem similar to other cases of biodiversity conservation is the lack of economic resources and limited involvement of the private sector.

Using the financial resources given the tourism department, the above is accomplished and it enabled people to swim with the giant of the seas - a truly amazing experience that is wanted by many and only a few have experienced.

The Needed Learning And Plan To Generate Information

The wonderful sea giants' survival is in fact vulnerable to human actions and threatened by human activities. A plan is very essential for the sustainability of the business activities connected to the sightings.

At the same time, tourism companies and cooperatives have included the sharks sightings in their services and attractions therefore increasing the pressure on the species. Nevertheless the increase of endorsing the sightings for commercial purposes spreads faster when compared to information we've got involving population dynamics, migration as well as feeding of the species in the Yucatan Peninsula.

"Studies on the whale shark resources are scarce, hence the effort we make to be able to produce information is really important mainly because it will establish a baseline for short, medium and permanent management", stated in return by Eduardo Cuevasin in an interview.

Oscar Reyes who is among the promoters of this project and Peninsula de Yucatan Pronatura specialized biologist are the respondents.

The Difficulty That Lies Ahead

Oscar Reyes remembered that the Conanp precorded in 2004 above six thousand visitors, particularly, many visitors from diverse countries, came to swim with the whale sharks; and after that the figure continued to increase progressively every single year.

"This tourist flow has generated a surge of economic activity in the way of tourism service providers, restaurants, hotels along with public services from Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres Chiquil communities in the adjoining state of Quintana Roo."

He also stated that most beneficiaries are fishermen who have engage into tourism from then on.

He therefore continued that,"Finding and characterizing the factors and processes so as to generate guidelines and rules that will give protection to the shark populations and their habitat in the area of the Yucatan Peninsula is the most significant challenge."

The end results have begun to take shape on maps as well as on other tools for information on shark sightings which should be employed to make a decision with regards to the tourism activities management and regulation.

Therefore, the academic institutions, civil organizations and federal government's joint effort is by far one of the most important one in the recent years which must be continued, increased and supported in order to ensure that this giant of the seas remain in existence in the Mexican waters forever.

If you are interested in supporting our cause and want to take part in this case, you can get more information by emailing ecuevas@pronatura-ppy.org.mx or freyes@pronatura-ppy.org.mx.




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