Enjoy, don't destroy!
year, the number of visitors to Manzanillo
Unknowingly, your activities are causing damage to our pristine coastal areas,
underwater reefs and water resources.
FIND THE SOLUTION,
YOU FIRST HAVE TO RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM.
How our government
lengths have also been taken to protect the Mexican bobcat and its habitat, and
efforts have been made to preserve and protect crocodiles and the lagoons where
nothing is being done to protect our ocean’s ecosystem and the animals that
depend on it. The main reason tourists visit our area is to
enjoy and make use of the ocean. Sometimes, in doing so, primarily because of a
lack of education, they do irreparable harm. This lack of knowledge extends to
some of our locals, too, who make a living off the sea.
story is not just about what everyone is doing wrong, but how we, working
together, tourists and locals alike, can make it right. Easily, and immediately.
Lic. Edgar Lepe Vasconcelos, sub-director of tourism for the state of Colima offers free brochures (in English and Spanish) to tourists and locals on how to protect the marine environment. He invites all visitors to Manzanillo to visit the tourism office for information and brochures on what to see and do in the state.
CONSERVATION BEGINS WITH UNDERSTANDING.
to REEF (Reef Environmental Educational
Foundation) Manzanillo has the highest rating in the Tropical Eastern Pacific
region for varieties and numbers of sea life. Simply put, we've got many
different species and lots of 'em!
Unfortunately, we have no way
to protect them. One way is following the examples of other popular destinations in Mexico,
such as Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. These towns, along with the
federal government, have enacted laws and have designated
certain areas as underwater national parks. Making and enforcing laws takes
time, and our city fathers are working on it, but you can help right
now, and it doesn’t cost a peso!
ARE YOU DOING WRONG?
Look but don’t
You sign up for a snorkel trip, or snorkel on your own off the beach at your hotel. Although, at first, they may look like rocks or plants, many aquatic organisms are fragile creatures that can be damaged or harmed by the touch of a fin, or even a hand. It is also important to know that some aquatic organisms, such as corals, are extremely slow growing (one centimeter/year).
By breaking off even a small
piece, you may be destroying decades of growth. Don’t take it home, stand on
it (even if your dive guide does—he just doesn’t know any better), and try
not to kick it accidentally. By being careful, you can prevent devastating and
long-lasting damage to our beautiful reefs.
Be a fanatic
|Many all-inclusive hotels deliver drinks in
plastic cups, as do the “booze cruises” that are so popular. Most of these
disposable cups end up in the ocean, and divers end up being sanitary engineers
by cleaning up after you. Divers at last year’s ocean clean
up removed more than 6 tons of garbage, most of it plastic.
Instead of using
the throwaway cups, buy or bring from home a reusable plastic glass. Take it
with you wherever disposable plastic cups are used. Please don’t stand in the ocean
with a drink in your hand! Just when you least expect it, a wave will take it
from you. When on a boat where drinks are served in plastic cups, remember that
the wind will ensure your cup ends up in the sea. The same people who wouldn’t
think about ever throwing trash out the window of their car, never know about
what divers and their fish amigos see down under.
Paper, plastic and fishing line at Playa Audiencia in front of the Hotel Gran Costa Real.
|Resist the urge
to collect souvenirs.
The sports of snorkeling and scuba diving allow visitors to Manzanillo to see one of our most important ecosystems. We have dozens of sites available, many shallow enough for beginners. Sites that are heavily used can be depleted of resources in a short period of time.
Collecting specimens, coral and shells in these areas can strip the
fascination and beauty of the area. If you want to return from your adventure with trophies
to show friends and family, please consider underwater photography!
“Catch-and Release”—Let the “big one” go.
|Deep-sea fishing is one of the most popular
sports in Manzanillo, and our town is known as “The Sailfish Capital of the
Advocate “catch and release.” It’s done in many other areas of Mexico, and around the world as well. Join The Billfish Foundation and encourage your boat captain to do the same.
You’ll still have a great time reeling in your trophy fish, and he
will live to fight another battle. Make sure you make your wishes clear to the
owner or captain of the charter boat you choose.
Don’t let the
tide do your work for you.
|When you leave the beach for the day, don’t
assume that the resort staff will pick up your mess.
Take your cups, straws,
cigarette butts, and other trash back to the hotel. Do you know who really
cleans up after you? Mother Ocean & her son, Tide.
waves (Avoid PWCs).
Perhaps the worst way a human can impact our
bays, animals that depend on them, and even other humans, is through the use of
PWCs (personal water craft). They go by many names: Jet Skis, Waverunners, Sea-Doos,
The primary reason PWCs are so harmful
to the environment is that they are powered by 2-stroke engines, which pollute
the water and air, are very fuel inefficient and create an extreme amount of
noise, disturbing both wildlife and people alike.
According to EPA statistics, these
engines are the number one source of toxic water pollution. They discharge as
much as one third of their fuel and oil unburned into the water and air, which
means a 2-hour ride on a PWC dumps 2.5 gallons of gas and oil into the water.
That’s enough gas and oil to cover an 8-acre pond!
Running a typical model for two hours releases about the same amount of
smog-generating pollutants as driving a new car 139,000 miles.
It gets worse. Hydrocarbons found in
gas and oil float on the surface of the water and can settle within shallow
ecosystems along the shoreline, a critical habitat area. This engine was banned
from use in motorcycles years ago. It has been estimated that PWCs contribute
the equivalent of four Exxon Valdez spills to America’s waters annually!
(Mexico is part of North America.)
The aggravating, high-pitched noise
associated with these watercraft disturbs wildlife, as well as others trying to
enjoy the peaceful serenity of Manzanillo’s bays. Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institute, with their research vessel Atlantis and underwater submersible,
Alvin, have visited Manzanillo numerous times. Their controlled study describes
how PWCs, which lack low frequency sounds, do not warn surfacing birds or
mammals of approaching danger until they are almost on top of them. By then it
is too late.
The endangered and protected brown
booby (right) can dive down for its dinner up to 15 ft. You can never tell where he will
come up. Turtles, dolphins and whales are surface breathing mammals. Pacific
mantas and eagle rays play and mate near the surface.
How sad that our turtles are protected
when they leave the sea, but in the water they are harassed and killed by
speeding jet skis. How horrible to be conducting a dive or snorkel trip and see
a dead turtle on the bottom with a partially severed head. Turtles, dolphins,
whales and rays have used our calm bays as a refuge for hundreds of years, but
now, what has been a delight for residents and visitors, is rapidly becoming a
memory of the past.
Because a PWC's unmuffled engine
exhausts through its jet, which is out of the water, the high frequency noise
travels for miles, and doesn’t demonstrate the same Doppler effect as a
motorboat. Swimmers, snorkelers, divers, birds, turtles and other wildlife
can’t hear it coming (although with speeds that can be up to 60 mph, it might
be a moot point).
Numerous studies have demonstrated
that PWCs disrupt the nesting of shore birds, and that even low levels of
hydrocarbon in aquatic systems can have acute toxic affects on various forms of
zooplankton, fish eggs, larvae, algae, crab, mussels, and shrimp, the foundation
of our ecosystem food chains.
In shallow waters where PWCs can
easily operate, the bottom gets stirred up, suspending sediment, which cuts down
on light penetrations and depletes oxygen. They interrupt feeding and nesting
wildlife (who fly away and leave their nests), and cause animals to deviate from
their normal behavior.
If the impact on nature doesn’t
convince you to try another form of water sport, think about this: Of the total
number of registered motorized water sports vehicles, only 7-9% are PWCs.
However, PWCs account for up to 50% of all boating accidents, and the victims
aren’t just the drivers, but are people in other boats, in the water and even
on shore. Drinking and driving a PWC plays a large part in many of the reported
A turtle swimming near the surface in Playa Audiencia
PWCs have no brakes, and if the driver
needs to stop he must either execute a sharp turn or allow the craft to glide to
a stop. If you quickly release the
throttle of a jet ski, you loose your ability to steer! Once the water jet is
disengaged, the PWC essentially becomes a missile heading in the last principal
direction of thrust. It takes a jet ski traveling at 60 mph nearly 300 ft. to
glide to a stop.
Some argue that PWC users have a right
to enjoy their recreation along with fishermen, boaters, swimmers, snorkelers,
surfers and all others who enjoy marine areas. However, the PWC industry has
made no attempt to correct the problems with their craft or their use, and the
harm to the environment and people continues to rise at an alarming rate.
Even the noise levels are a factor, with PWCs generating the same decibel levels generated by jackhammers, chainsaws and freight trains. If PWCs were used in a work environment, OSHA would require their riders and everyone around them to wear hearing protection.
Safer, less invasive forms of non-motorized watercraft, such as kayaks, boogie boards and pedal boats are available everywhere.
Go ECO—Explore, Conserve, Observe--Project
Some snorkeling sites are very shallow. The young man is floating above it. Respect our reefs.
This 10,000-year-old coral reef
grows one centimeter/year. Coral is a living animal
Same reef, the white tips of the coral showing that it has died from snorkelers standing on it.
|Be a role
model for others.
|A popular snorkeling and diving spot: The "San
Luciano," an 86-year-old shipwreck that sunk in the hurricane of
1959. It rests in only 25 ft. of water in Santiago Bay, and is home to
numerous seahorses of various colors, and a plethora of sea life.
Since the deck of the 300-foot-long ship is only 4 ft. beneath the surface, many snorkelers stand on it to take a break. How would you feel if your fins cut the orange seahorse in half (above, right) ?
|Above, the deck of the "San Luciano" as it looks underwater to a snorkeler or diver. Though the deck only 4 ft. beneath the surface, it is teeming with life, from the soft corals above, to the jewel moray and blenny below. Think before you stand. Please.|
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”-- Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist.
Photos by the dive team at Underworld Scuba/Scuba Shack.