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Stingrays, Eagle Rays, Mobula Rays & Manta Rays

Rays in Mexico

STINGRAYS, EAGLE RAYS, MOBULA RAYS AND MANTA RAYS

Rays in Mexico Caribbean Sea

There is a diverse variety of rays in Mexico. They inhabit different oceans of the world and some even inhabit fresh water streams and rivers. While most people believe that all rays are similar, the truth cannot be further than this misconception.

All species of rays are different from one another in a lot of ways, which include shape, size and lethality. All rays are similar to sharks–they have cartilage instead of bones in their bodies. Plus, they are flat in shape and have big rounded pectoral fins, which are merged with their head and body.

Many rays swim using their large flat fins and most use an intricate wave like movement to swim, where as others swim by flapping their fins. The main source of their food is filter, mollusks and buried sand.

Stingrays

Stingrays are more popularly known in comparison other species. And that is because you can easily identify them – they have long, thin tails, which are coated with pointy stings. A majority of stingrays also have venom glands located on their tail. Get too close one and it will sting you with its tail, injecting very painful venom. However, there is nothing to worry about as stingrays only attack when they feel threatened.

Stingrays can also be identified by their signature diamond-shape and the fact they tend to half bury themselves in sand looking for food. Stingrays spend most of their time on the sea floor.

Manta Rays

Although manta rays do not have sharp stings on their tails, the ray can be said to be another type of stingray. They are big rays with a fin span of 25 feet and most weight up to 3000 pounds. However, despite being big, they are harmless and spend a majority of their time bottom feeding and filtering. Manta rays are elegant swimmers that have graceful maneuverability and have very quick movement, despite a 25 foot fin span!

Mobula Rays

Mobula rays can be compared in size with other rays that swim in the world’s oceans. Also known as ‘devil fish’ or ‘flying mobula’, these rays are dark blue with the top being black and a white underbelly. Mobula rays can grow up to 17 feet in size. They spend their time looking for plankton, which is a main source of their food. Mobula rays are not dangerous and will only attack in self-defense.

Eagle rays

Eagles have long elongated tails and are 9 meters in size. With inky blue bodies the eagle ray can also be identified with its angular disc and a wide snout. Eagle rays have sharply curved corners and they don’t have a caudal fin. Eagle rays unlike other rays in the ocean tend to prey on shrimps, octopus, small fish and clams. They are also fast swimmers, which also makes them efficient hunters. They swim quite close to the sea floor and occasionally jump out of water, almost attempting to fly.

While your trip to turtles and Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel and Puerto Morelos with Absolute Adventure, you’ll see stingrays, and if you’re lucky you will also be able to see the Eagle ray, which mostly appears in winters. Apart from that, sometimes tourists hit the jackpot and spot Manta rays and Mobula rays on a summer tour to swim with Whale Sharks with Absolute Adventure.

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Sea Turtles in Riviera Maya

Sea Turtles in Riviera Maya

SEA TURTLES IN RIVIERA MAYA

The season for turtle nesting starts from spring and ends in September in the Riviera Maya. During this time a score of sea turtles come ashore on the beaches of Riviera Maya to lay eggs. And you know something amazing about these turtles? Well it is absolutely fascinating that female turtles come all the way to lay their eggs at the exact same spot they were born! According to experts and turtle researchers, sea turtles navigate their way through the use of earth’s magnetic field. It is what helps them to successfully find their way around.

Female turtles can lay up to 200 eggs at one go. The mother makes sure that the eggs safely land on a soft layer of sand. They first do some digging a few meters away from the beach then they lay their eggs, bury them and swim away. Upon hatching, it is a struggle for newborn turtles to crawl their way to the water and swim away.

A Dangerous Journey

It is quite difficult for baby turtles to safely reach the waters and swim away. And that is because there are many predators on the lookout. Apart from that, baby turtles are also hunted by poachers as well. And this is why the only option left to them is to slip by unnoticed and undetected.

Turtles face plenty of risks during their early age, which is various turtle species are now on the verge of becoming endangered. However, they are efforts being made by the SEMARNAT (secretary of the environment) and several ecological centers in the Riviera Maya to protect these species.

6 out of the Total 7 Turtle Species in the World are Found in Mexico!

Did you know that there are just 7 total species of turtles in the entire globe? Six of which are only found in Mexico. While diving or snorkeling, we can often meet 3 of the 6 species of sea turtles in Riviera Maya. And they are:

  • The Green Turtle
  • The Loggerhead
  • The Hawksbill

Recognizing the Three Sea Turtles

The Loggerhead: Loggerhead turtles are reddish-brown and have big heads. These species of turtles can grow up to 3.5 feet in length and weigh just over 400 pounds. Their main source of food is small crabs, jellyfish and mollusks.

The Green Turtle: Green turtles are large and have a carapace that is up to 3 feet in length. These big turtles can weigh up to 350 pounds and can have different colors for their carapace, most of which include shades of green, gray, black, brown and yellow. Another interesting thing about them is the fact that they are carnivorous when small, eating small fish – but as they grow up they become herbivorous. Their main source of food is plankton, seaweeds and seagrass.

The Hawksbill: Hawksbill turtles can grow up to 3.5 feet in length and weigh up to 180 pounds. They are called hawksbill because of the way their mouths are shaped – which resembles the beak of a raptor. These turtles have enigmatic designs for their shells, which can vary in color.

Human Danger

The sea turtles of Riviera Maya are fast becoming endangered and the number one danger to them is none other than human beings. It is unfortunate, but it is true. Many people visiting the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, especially Riviera Maya riddle them with plastic waste (plastics bags, straws, etc.) The turtles confuse the plastic with jellyfish, and upon consuming thinking it is food, they suffocate and die.

It has become considerably important to protect the beaches of Riviera Maya in order to protect the turtles.

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Why not to swim with Dolphins in Delphinariums

Delphinariums

WHY NOT TO SWIM DELPHINARIUMS

A dangern both for dolphins and humans

Swimming with dolphins can be a mind-blowing experience, and it is getting rather popular with giant delphinariums being built to accommodate the entire show. Unfortunately, there is also a dark side to swimming with dolphins that few ever think about. Many people are unaware of the numerous problems that surround delphinariums.

The Ugly Truth

The reality is, keeping dolphins in captivity to entertain people by training them to interact and swim with them has a substantial negative impact on the animal. There are many accounts of the fact that dolphins kept in delphinariums live an impoverished existence. Not to mention in many instances a whole bunch of dolphins are kept huddled together in less than accommodating holding pens.

Apart from that, these intelligent and highly emotional animals are kept confined and in a poor state, which considerably shortens a dolphin’s existence. A lot of dolphins die before becoming adults and many die during captivity because of the cruelty involved.

Furthermore, many dolphins are forced to interact with their trainers, because they know they can’t escape their confinement. Some dolphins are even seen to show signs of distress when they interact with humans. In captivity they are not allowed to mate, hunt or play with other dolphins, as they do in the wild.

Some dolphins also die due to the stress of their confinement, which can also lead to abnormal behavior adopted by the dolphin and it dramatically reducesits immunity to diseases.

A Danger for Humans Too

Swimming with dolphins can also prove to be dangerous for humans as well. There have been many instances where trainers have reported to be bitten, scratched and bruises and many have suffered broken bones. Dolphins not matter how intelligent, are wild creatures nonetheless.

With all this in mind, isn’t it better to experience the magnificence of these diligent creatures first hand and in the wild?

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Whale Sharks Mexico

whale sharks mexico

WHALE SHARKS MEXICO

The Season in Riviera Maya

The season of the whale sharks in the Yucatan Peninsula begins from mid-May and ends close to the mid of September. However, the greatest concentration of whale sharks that you can find in Riviera Maya is between the months of July and August. It is during the summer season that people from all around the world come to enjoy their vacation in Riviera Maya. And you will be absolutely surprised to know that a huge number of whale sharks come to feed on plankton, in the northern Isla Mujeres and Holbox areas.

About Whale Sharks:

Whale sharks are undoubtedly the largest fish swimming the world’s seas. Growing up to 40 feet or 12 meters in length, they can weigh up to 20 tons! Luckily for most sea-dwellers and snorkelers, whale sharks are not carnivorous. They just love eating their favorite food, which is plankton and they also tend to scoop up tiny sea plants as well. They will occasionally eat very small fish as well – and they do that when they open their gigantic mouths to filter all the plankton and a few fish.

These beautiful and graceful fishes prefer to swim in warm waters, where there are several upwelling of cold, nutritious water where they can come to feed. That is why the island of Isla Mujeres and Holbox are so popular for whale sharking.

Whale sharks are called whale sharks solely because of their massive size, apart from that there are no other similarities and or attributes that the two aquatic giants have in common.

You can easily identify a whale shark, well, duh – it is a 40 feet fish! But apart from that whale sharks have a beautiful grayish to brownish sides and back with several white spots on its upper body with horizontal stripes.

Fun to Swim With Whales Sharks

It is totally possible to go snorkeling with whale sharks. However, it is important that only experienced snorkelers do. Whale sharks may appear threatening to humans because of their size, but in actuality, they are extremely humble and peaceful creatures. Whale sharks are incredibly fast swimmers despite their massive bodies!

 Spotting other Aquatic Life

While heading to swim with whale sharks in the waters of Isla Mujeres and/or Holbox it is quite possible that you will spot various other marine life such as manta and mobula rays and dolphins on your way there.

A Species Endangered

Unfortunately, whale shark numbers have dangerously dwindled for the past couple of years. They are hunted by poachers for their fins mainly in the Philippines. However, there are efforts being made by the World Wildlife Federation to fight against whale shark mutilations.

A Wonderful Experience

There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that swimming with whale sharks is a magnificent experience. Taking underwater selfies with such a beautiful giant will leave you with an immortalized memory and you will yearn for more. And with Absolute Adventure at your side, we ensure that you have the best of time while in Riviera Maya!

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Six Reasons You Should Not Touch Marine Fauna and Flora

touch marine fauna flora

SIX REASONS YOU SHOULD NOT TOUCHE MARINE FAUNA AND FLORA

To make a vacation to the Riviera Maya Mexico complete, you must take a snorkeling tour. When you snorkel with Absolute Adventure, we promise you a memorable experience tailored to your wants and needs.

While we want everyone to be able to enjoy freedom in the water, our first priority is the safety of our customers and our environment.

We promote the well-being of our ocean and encourage everyone to respect it as well.

No matter how friendly the animal may look, do not touch it! Let them be in their natural habitat and enjoy their beauty!

Six Reasons You Should Not Touch Marine Fauna and Flora:

  1. Picking up an ocean organism has the potential to have serious consequences. Moving a living thing on the ocean floor will likely lead to disorientation and a possibly more harmful environment.
  2. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to hurt a sea organism with your strength. A simple touch of a fingernail or the swiping of jewelry can damage the small parts of a organism.
  3. You may not think of humans as poisonous, but the oils and bacteria on our hands can cripple a coral reef. The smallest touch can lead to major problems for a sea organism.
  4. Sea organisms have layers on their skin to protect them from bacteria and disease. Touching an animal on the ocean floor has the potential to remove a layer of protection, leaving them vulnerable to infection.
  5. Marine animals have enough to worry about. Between disease and predators, there is no need to cause them more stress. Don’t get too close to the animals…you’ll likely scare them away.
  6. While humans are poisonous to some animals, touching some animals definitely has the ability to hurt humans. Touching a dangerous sea creature can lead to skin irritation, rashes, fainting, etc. Be cautious!
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How to recognize a green sea turtle?

Green sea turtle

HOW TO RECOGNIZE A GREEN SEA TURTLE?

Identifying green sea turtle is not that simple

When you look at a sea turtle, you would think that their common name (Green Turtle) will give you the perfect description of the specie. However, when you found out that their carapace color varies from dark green (called black sea turtle on the Pacific) to yellow, brown and green tones with shining stripes, it could be confusing!

Here some key facts, which can help you the next time you will be swimming with turtles in the Riviera Maya or in your next snorkeling adventure around the world.

Green turtle, white turtle, black turtle are the same species, the scientific name is Chelonia mydas, what they have in common and is totally different from other species are:

  • One pair of prefrontal scales
  • Serrated jaw, with small and round head
  • Carapace is bony without ridges, non overlapping scales

Green turtles are found in all temperate and tropical waters around the world.

They like to live in bays and protected shores like the Akumal bay, located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, where they can find a delicious sea grass bed. Adults green turtles are complete herbivorous but when they are less than 8 to 10 inches in length eat worms, young crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasses and algae.

Adults can weigh 240-420 pounds (110 – 190 kg) and from 3 to 4 feet in carapace length (83 – 114 cm). They could live up to 80 years.

A nest has a size around 70-190 eggs depending on the turtles. In addition, in one nest you can find eggs from different mates with the same female turtle.

Green turtles has some threats to survival, like fishing, lost of the habitat, commercial trading of the eggs. Also the climate change is shifting the population on males and females. If the temperature of the sand where the turtle’s nest is below 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) the turtles will be predominately male; above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) predominately female

The green turtle is an endangered specie, the best way to conserve it is to protect their habitat and sighting them with precaution, just remember that 1 from 1,000 would survive to be an adult.

We are really lucky in the Riviera Maya to able to swim with the turtles. If you are interested in that activity, check our special Swim with turtles tour and also the Akumal bay regulation in order to protect the turtles.

Hoping that we could have a better relationship in the future and our younger generation could continue sighting these ancestral animals!

Bibliography:

http://www.reef.org/reef_files/TurtleID.pdf

https://conserveturtles.org/information-sea-turtles-green-sea-turtle/

http://www.defenders.org/sea-turtles/basic-facts

https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/11-critically-endangered-turtle-species.html

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Swim with Whale Shark Regulation

Whale-Sharks-1-1

SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS

Mexico Regulation

The season of the whale sharks in the Yucatan Peninsula begins from mid-May and ends close to the mid of September. However, the greatest concentration of whale sharks that you can find in Riviera Maya is between the months of July and August.

Swimming with the largest fish in the ocean world (the largest animal of the world is the blue whale but it is a mammal and not a fish!) could be the most exciting experience without the fear of being eating for one of this majestic fish.

The Whale Shark is a endangered fish due the impacts of fisheries, bycatch losses, and vessel strikes, combined with its long life span and late maturation. For the protection and conservation of the Whale Shark this activity is regulated by the Environment Agency of Mexico (SEMARNAT Acronym in Spanish).

Swimming with whale sharks has been regulated in Mexico since 2007, at first in Baja California (Northern Mexico). Following this initiative, a proper plan of regulation in the Riviera Maya was published on 2015 when they defined the Natural reserve of the whale shark by the SEMARNAT.

The key points of the Whale Shark Regulation are:

  • The timetable for snorkeling with and sighting of whale sharks is from 7 am to 2 pm
  • If less than 5 whale sharks are in the area, it is forbidden to swim with the whale sharks, but you could still see/watch them from the boat.
  • With more than 5 whale sharks, people can go to snorkel by pair with a certified guide. Just 2 people per guide are allowed in the water at the same time.
  • It’s strictly banned to touch or chase any whale sharks.
  • Distance allowed is 15 feet from the whale sharks.
  • Photos are permitted but flash is not allowed.
  • Only biodegradable sunblock is approved.
  • The use of a life jacket or wetsuit, snorkel, mask and fins is mandatory.

Absolute Adventure works closely with captains and crews who are committed to explain, respect and follow the latest Whale Shark Regulation. For the Absolute Adventure team, it is really important to work with people who respect and have the same passion that we have for the ocean.

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Akumal Bay regulation – Swim with the turtles

Akumal bay regulation

SWIM WITH TURTLES

Akumal Bay Regulation

You may have seen or read many things on social media about the Swim with Turtles activity, some companies offer this tour, some others don’t, some people say it is allowed or not allowed… To help you to understand the issue, here the details of the new Akumal Bay regulation, and the good news is that it is possible to swim with the turtles!

We would like to inform all of our customers about the change and explain that we are excited for the new law protecting our turtles and set up of sustainable activities.

As a result of the new law, Absolute Adventure Mexico has partnered with a local cooperative to be allowed to bring tourists to the bay. 

The 2017 Akumal bay regulation includes:

  • Swimming and sighting of sea turtles is not allowed during the months of September and February.
  • Swimming and sighting of sea turtles is not allowed on Mondays.
  • Swimming and sighting of sea turtles is only permitted from 9am to 5 pm
  • Tourists should use exclusively the routes and timetable established by CONANP***.
  • It will be carried out in groups of up to 6 people plus a guide authorized by CONANP.
  • Snorkeling session cannot exceed 55 minutes.
  • Both the entrance and exit of the sighting area should be done slowly and quietly walking along the beach
  • Life jackets are mandatory (to avoid total immersion).
  • The minimum distance between groups that do the activity will be 10 meters (33 ft).
  • Tourists must maintain a minimum distance of 3 meters (10 ft) from the back of each turtle, without exceeding the observation time of five minutes.
  • During the course of snorkeling it is prohibited to touch, feed, disturb, retain, remove, hold, and / or damage any specimen of wildlife.
  • If the turtle shows signs of rapid movement, evasion, or sudden changes of direction, or longer dives, observation activities will be immediately suspended
  • Only the use of biodegradable sunscreens is allowed.

Akumal Bay has high biological wealth which provides alimentation and rest zone for three species of sea turtles: Green turtles (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

The bay offers an easy access with shallow and pristine waters, where sighting of sea turtles and others wild species can be enjoyed it by swimmers and snorkelers. So it makes the Akumal bay the perfect place to swim with turtles.

With the growth of the tourism in the state of Quintana Roo, Akumal became a great place for sighting without any regulation. Since 2015 the beach access is disputed between the community and different public and private actors.

That is why the Environment Agency of Mexico (SEMARNAT*) started to work on a regulation for conservation of Akumal and protection of the natural habitat of the sea turtles. They published a technical study for the protection and conservation of the bay.

On July 6th 2016 the SEMARNAT introduced a new law, effective same day, to limit the number of swimmers with turtles in the bay of Akumal. The limit decreased from thousands of swimmers a day to less than 300. Only few local cooperatives are allowed to bring twelve individuals per day, which is controlled by the PROFEPA**.

The last review of the regulation was published in April of 2017 introducing new guidelines for the activity.

 

* SEMARNAT: Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales – Secretary of Ambient Environment and Natural Resources

** PROFEPA: PRocuraduría FEderal de Protección al Ambiente – Federal Administration of the Ambient Protection

*** CONAP: COnsejo National de Areas Protegidas