Very little is known about trends of coral bleaching on a global scale. Currently, coral health monitoring mainly occurs around a few reefs that are regularly visited by scientists. There are many questions that will have to be answered in order to try and save the reefs. This is why we at Pez Maya are working hard to get as many CoralWatch data from our reefs as possible. We send the data to the CoralWatch project where it is analyzed and made available on the project’s website. This will make it possible to compare the condition of many different reefs at any one point in time, as well as the condition of a single reef over time.
At Pez Maya, we train our volunteers to perform the CoralWatch by first teaching them about the biology and ecology of corals and the different species of coral that occur around our base. There are over 50 species of stony coral in 12 families found on our dive sites, of which the majority is used for CoralWatch dives. These corals come in many different shapes and sizes, from boulders to branches and from golf ball sized to the size of a small car.
Our divers go down in buddy pairs with the necessary equipment, consisting of the Coral Watch Chart, a dive torch, slate and pencil. When they find a candidate for the CoralWatch, they look for the darkest and the lightest part of the coral and find the corresponding colors in color brightness on the chart, as an indication of the amount of bleaching of the coral tissue. Finally, the divers write all their findings down on the slate. Volunteers collect data from 20 different corals they encounter during each CoralWatch dive.
During the first trimester of 2015, 21 CoralWatch dives were done. Almost all of these dives were done in March when the majority of our coral volunteers were trained to the level of CoralWatchers. In total, 420 corals were monitored in 14 hours of diving.
At Pez Maya, we are passionate about this project and believe efforts such as these are important for the understanding of coral reefs, not only the beautiful reef in front of our base, but reefs all over the world! It is one of the many ways we contribute to marine conservation on a daily basis in our Mexican GVI hub.
Thank you for your continued support on this project.
All the best
GVI Pez Maya
In order to contribute to reduce pollution, threats to the local fauna and to collect data on the composition of the marine debris that washes up on Pez Maya beach, a weekly cleanup is carried out by volunteers and staff. In the last three months of 2014, a total of 452 kg of rubbish was collected, adding up to a total of 2.3 tons of rubbish removed from the beach during the year.
The beach cleans take place on a weekly basis and 9 zones of 150 meters length each are monitored. The first zone starts in the mangrove mouth and the last one finishes at the southern point of Pez Maya beach.
Volunteers and staff members pick up all the debris that they find from the tide line to the vegetation line, this to avoid including waste created by terrestrial sources. All the debris is separated in 4 categories: Non-recyclable, Glass, Plastic bottles and Plastic bottle caps. After collecting it, the debris is weighted and the information is entered into the data base.A total of 452.75 kilograms of trash was removed from the beach, cutlery being the most abundant item (1846 pieces).
It was a very successful year in which the team managed to clean more trash from the Pez Maya shoreline. Effective documentation and monitoring activities to assess the types and amounts of marine debris can help in the global reduction and abatement of the marine debris problem. Raising awareness about this problem is vital to encourage people to have environmentally friendly practices.
Thank you for continuing to support this program.
The turtle project is very busy at the moment with lots of turtle nests in San Juan and Yuyum Beaches. Every night we have approximately 8 turtles in San Juan and most nights two or three hatching nests. In Yuyum, during the inspection we had 5 or 6 new nests and about 8 to 10 nests to clean each week.
During August we had found 199 nests of Chelonia mydas (Green turtle) and 68 of Caretta caretta (Loggerhead turtle) in San Juan, but on the 29th August when our partners helped out on a inspection in San Juan we found 136 extra nests and we cleaned more than 20, giving us a total of 403 nests in San Juan.
After the San Juan inspection, Flora Fauna y Cultura de México came back to base to help us with Yuyum, finding 76 nests and cleaning more than 15. Adding this to the 33 nests of Chelonia mydas and 20 of Caretta caretta that had been found before, we now have 129 nests in Yuyum.
With turtle season about to finish, we have had so far more than 2000 little turtles in our two beaches. We are very excited to see the final results of the season, and we feel very lucky to be able to contribute towards conserving the sea turtle species that nest it the region.
Thanks you for continuing to support this project.
One of the main objectives of Pez Maya marine conservation project is to collect data for the MBRS Synoptic Monitoring Program on behalf of our partners Amigos de Sian Ka’an (ASK) and CONANP. We train volunteers in four different MBRS methodologies, and when they complete their training they start to monitor. This quarter (April-June) we managed to complete five monitor sites for fish and coral.
The volunteers are trained in the four different methodologies of MBRS: Point Intercept method for percentage cover (PI), characterization of the Coral Communities (CC), and belt transect counts for defined fish species, adults and recruitments / juveniles. Volunteers go through extensive training both in and out of the water, learning Latin names for corals, conducting coral and fish identification tests, practice monitoring, sizing, laying lines, etc. Training can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks depending on ability, logistics and weather.
Each quarter we aim to monitor as many sites as possible, and for the April to June quarter we were very happy that we managed to complete 5 out of 11 monitoring sites. It was really successful and a great occasion was when we had four different monitoring buddy pairs on one boat.
For the April- June quarter a total 5 sites were monitored from 11 sites: Pedro Paila 05 (PP05), Pedro Paila 10 (PP10), San Miguel de Ruiz 10 (SMDR10), San Miguel de Ruiz 20 (SMDR20) and Punta Yuyum 20 (PY20). Both coral and fish transects were completed at these sites.
PP05 presents a high predominance of algae cover (74.50%) and a low percentage of hard coral cover (7.33%).
The dominant fish family is Acanthuridae with 84.55%, this is due to the higher number of individuals of blue tangs, ocean and doctor surgeon fish, which are most common in the reef. Also these species often travel and feed in schools which makes their presence in the transect higher.
All the sites were done for both coral and fish giving us a clear idea of what is happening on the reef. Thank you for supporting this cause, your donations make all the above happen!
As fishing conservationists here at Pez Maya, we are quite worried about illegal fishing over the world, so it was a huge disappointment and concern to find an illegal fishing net 50m long right on our front beach this week.Driving the boat out to one of our many beautiful diving sites this week we spotted a huge net stretching across the mangrove mouth, the point where the freshwater lagoons join the sea. It was obvious that this was carefully placed and as fishing with nets is outlawed within the reserve it was obvious that there was something ‘fishy’ going on!Staff member Brad donned his snorkel gear and went down to investigate. After snorkeling the length of the net he confirmed our fears that there were quite a few fish stuck in the net. The net was made of thousands of small squares with floats on top and weights on the bottom, designed to catch anything and everything that swam into it. We were slightly comforted by the fact that no turtles had been trapped in the net because turtle egg laying season has begun in the reserve, so many turtles are traveling to the beach each night.We threw the anchor out and after Brad cut the ropes tying it down we began to pull the net into the boat, carefully cutting out any fish that were stuck in the net. By now we had a small crew in the water to take photos and videos. We were fortunate enough to save a lane snapper but sadly we had to cut out 5 dead fish which included a massive barracuda and tarpin.
By supporting this project, you are helping us to tackle this horrible issue of illegal fishing in the Yucatan pennisula so thank you!
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager