Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - In an attempt to conserve the natural heritage and biodiversity found there, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) has taken the decision to close the beautiful Marietas Islands to the public indefinitely. Resolution will take effect starting May 9, 2016.
Home to 44 species of flora and fauna, The Marieta Islands National Park is part of the RAMSAR sites and an UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve.
It is a place of breeding, feeding and resting sea birds, has great diversity of coral species and the greatest diversity of reef fish in the Bay of Banderas. Whales, dolphins, giant manta ray, tropical fish and indigenous birds such as blue-footed boobies and red-billed tropical birds form a unique and complex ecosystem in the shelter of these islands.
The incredible underwater landscapes, its natural beauty, and the option it provides for diving, kayaking, etc., have made the islands a popular tourist attraction, but these activities have taken a toll on the coral reefs and sea life, according to a study by the University of Guadalajara.
The study estimated that the beach could support 625 visitors a day, a number that is easily exceeded during vacation periods such as Easter Week, which this year saw more than 2,500 visitors a day. In 2012, the Marietas received 27,500 visitors. Last year, that number shot up to 127,372.
The study found that coral is dying, garbage is being left behind, and pollution from hydrocarbons is causing deterioration that if left unchecked could be irreversible. This is what prompted CONANP's decision to close the beach.
Alejandro del Mazo Maza, head of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, said after closing the beach, restoration work will begin on the coral reef. CONANP will be monitoring the sponge, ray and shark communities, as well as water quality. They are currently reviewing the Marietas Islands National Park Conservation and Management Plan to determine whether reopening the area to visitors in the future is viable.Original article translated and edited by Lorena Sonrisas for BanderasNews.com.