Why is Cozumel so special?

Cozumel Island is located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico in the Yucatán Peninsula. If you can picture Mexico in the shape of a chili pepper then you know that the Yucatan Peninsula is the spicy tip you first bite off, yes the super spicy part. It’s no coincidence we eat a lot of Habanero chile (watch out with that salsa on your tacos), but no that is not what makes us special. What makes Cozumel island so special is its people. We are a friendly bunch and worldly renowned for being very friendly hosts. But even more so, what makes this part of the world unique, and very special and of great value to the entire planet, is its ecosystems! 

Did you know that Cozumel is surrounded by four natural protected areas? Two of those conservation zones are protected under federal law and two by state law. This means that the ecosystems of the Island are crucial for biosecurity, ecological value and economic wellbeing for the entire country! The island is also surrounded by two RAMSAR sites known as Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel and Manglares y Humedales del Norte de Isla Cozumel. These mangroves provide unique ecological services and capture CO2 helping the planet cope with climate change. Also these unique ecosystems act as “buffer zones” protecting human populations form increased storms and hurricanes. 

In case that wasn’t special enough in 2016 the United Nations agency UNESCO declared that Cozumel Island would become a BIOSPHERE RESERVE! This is the highest conservation designation on the planet and sets all the “rules of the game” for the highest standards for conservation under international law and agreements to ensure  protection and preservation of these ecosystems for the sake of humanity and Earth’s health as human patrimony. This makes not only Mexicans but everyone responsible for the well being of Cozumel.

Natural protected areas
Oficial map that indicates all Conservation areas, RAMSAR sites and Biosphere Reserve kindly provided by CONANP Cozumel – Click to enlarge

Cozumel’s Biosphere Reserve has an extension of 134,624.17 hectares (519.78mi²) Its main terrestrial ecosystems are medium semi-deciduous forest and mangroves. Medium semi-deciduous forest is rare in other parts of the state of Quintana Roo, and hosts a substantial proportion of species endemic to the island.

Marine ecosystems constitute a significant portion of the proposed biosphere reserve, which forms part of the second largest reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef. With its diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems, the area is rich in amphibians and reptile species, and is home to more than 1,000 marine species. These include the anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), the atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), the caribbean sharp-nose puffer (Canthigaster rostrate) and the hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). It is also home to three endemic species, which the IUCN considers to be critically endangered: the Cozumel raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus), the Cozumel thrasher (Toxostoma guttatum) and the Cozumel harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys spectabilis). A nerdy fact is that Cozumel is the only Biosphere Reserve on the planet that has a city and humans living within its territory. So we get to own up the challenge and prove that humans and nature can be mutually beneficial and coexist.

At PSD we will make sure you know how you can  actively be part of the solution and show your love for Cozumel, its ecosystems and its people. We take pride in showing you simple steps towards Responsible Tourism. We will take collective action. These are a couple of hashtags that you can use to start conversations on social media about this subject: #CozumelConservation and #BeTheChangeyouWantToSEA  

We have prepared our very own Cozumel Guide specially for YOU! With some special tips, hidden gems, our favorite spots, recommendations and tips on how to be a responsible tourist. All our divers will receive this complimentary gift in PDF format attached to your booking confirmation email.

Some simple actions you can take to promote #ResponsibleTourism and #CozumelConservation during your visit to Cozumel. 

Before you arrive in Coz check out these links for information and videos. We compiled this list for our Punta Sur Divers community. We want to ensure you have a great scuba or snorkel experience during your visit. We hope to encourage you to be a trendsetter and promote #ResponsibleTourism and #CozumelConservation with us!

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