Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve and the 2nd largest reef barrier in the world

Perhaps because I have lived most of my days near the sea (yes, I have been lucky) I have always felt a connection to it and all the living beings who make of it its home. As a child, when talking about pollution, my biggest worry has always been the oceans. The dolphins and the turtles trapped in fishnets, the seagulls covered in petrol, the little fishes not being able to breath, the sharks and the whales hunted. We are indeed a dangerous species, we the men, the women, the humans. Dangerous for all of the others, but for ourselves. We have been destroying our own planet, and it will be to late (I believe it already is) to go back.

Reaching my final destination in Mexico, Tulum, I was faced with the opportunity of going on a eco-friendly tour which would take to Sian Ka’an natural reserve, a boat trip where I could see dolphins and sea turtles swimming in the wild and more, to snorkel in the largest second reef in the world. It was a dream of mine to experience any of this. I was given that chance – so, knowing that I was going to pay a lot for a tour promising me a lot, I was also scared no dolphins or sea turtles would make an appearance.

Dolphins are extrovert, intelligent mammals – they made a show for us… to be honest, those cuties were a bit of a show off. But I could have stayed in there observing them for hours.

On the other hand, sea turtles are shy creatures. And our amazing guide explained us something that really touched me and made me proud of taking that particular tour:

“I don’t chase animals. We, humans, don’t need to rely on our own energy too much. If we’re too hot, we put the air conditioner on. If we are too cold, the heating. We need to move, we put fuel in the car, and we drive. But a sea turtle… needs its energy to find food, to swim back home. If I chase the turtle, it will waste energy running away from us. Energy it won’t have to swim back home. I will be killing it slowly, as well as its species – if it doesn’t go back home, how can it reproduce? How will it help its habitat to grow?”

I heard this explanation in Spanish and English. Since I understand and speak both languages I got deeply touched twice. The guide came to me at some point, stating a fact – you understand Spanish. I confirmed. I could see you were paying attention both times I spoke.

So, my experience is sort of summarized on a 3 minute video, made up with poor quality camera (so apologies about that):

What you really need to know is that this place is magical. It’s purity makes you modest, makes you feel like a humble peasant, kneeling besides the beauty of nature. In the Mayan language, Sian Ka’an means something alongside the origin of the sky, or the heavens. Because this is exactly what this place is. Heaven. Above and below water. So, can anybody tell me, why are humans so committed to destroy it?

To build heavens only a few can enjoy, while destroying the same place where only those same “heavens” can be lived in?

I never feel as much as myself as when I’m surrounded by nature. No exactly as myself… but human. I feel like I do have a heart pumping warm blood through my body. That my body warms the space around me, as the same space around me provides me with the oxygen I need to get my heart to work. That same oxygen produced by the green leaves of so many different species of flora. Flora which feeds the animals that will also feed me. I feel connected to something. I feel part of everything. Part of the circle of life.

Exploring the second largest reef in the world was a privilege, but a bitter sweet experience. While i couldn’t bear in my chest the happiness the whole thing was filling me with, I was away too aware that future generations might not get the chance to witness such beauty.

Ocean pollution, global warming, uncontrolled and non regulated tourism, excessive fishing activities are destroying our reefs, killing the corals and affecting thousands of species – many which haven’t been discovered and probably will disappear before we get to greet them. Perhaps because we are not supposed to.

As I mentioned, I took a sustainable, eco friendly tour. This means the use of life vests was compulsory to make sure we keep ourselves at the surface and wouldn’t damage the corals – just by touching it, we might kill it – its takes decades for 1 cm of coral to grow back. I didn’t want to kill not even a millimetre of it. I already bear the weight of what we as humans have been doing.

So, travellers and explorers out there who want to see a little of paradise with minimal impact – I highly recommend this tour by iTour Tulum. It was simply one of the best things I have done ever.

Love

Nic

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