Protect Marine Ecosystems in Mexico

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust
Sand castle building at the annual turtle festival
Sand castle building at the annual turtle festival

Dear Supporter, 

The Marine Turtle Festival in Tulum and Akumal is an annual event hosted by 15 partner marine conservation organizations around Quintana Roo state.  This annual festival, held at the end of nesting season, is a way for locals to learn about turtle behavior, what they consume and what is harming them directly. GVI has taken part in the planning of this festival for over 10 years.

Pez Maya is a marine conservation base and we dive almost every day. We see the first-hand effects that trash and climate change are bringing to the reef and the coastal ecosystems as a whole. We teach the volunteers about conversation and environmental preservation so they can go home with new knowledge and share their experiences with friends and family. However, teaching children is probably one of the most important ways to educate an entire community. 

Our goal for the Marine Turtle festival was to show children, who are living here in the Yucatan and who are experiencing these changes along with us, how people can help an ecosystem no matter how big or small the action is. 

This year the team was involved in several activities. We manned a booth in Tulum town on the first evening that encouraged people to play a turtle memory game and a turtle puzzle.  There was also a board for children to guess what is good for turtles (sea grass, jellyfish and crabs) and what is bad (plastic, pollution and boats), and a board showing children the different things you can recycle, informing them on trash in the sea.  

On the second day we moved to the beach where we participated in homemade-kite flying, sandcastle building and a scavenger hunt. Everyone had a blast and it was great to see the kids getting excited by turtle facts. Did you know that one turtle can lay 100 eggs?

It was, all in all, an amazing experience for everyone involved. We hope that by informing kids now, they can grow up and help protect turtles and the marine environment. 

With Gratitude,

GVI Mexico

Kids enjoying the festival
Kids enjoying the festival

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THE HUNT
THE HUNT

Dear Supporter, 

They are beautiful, dressed with vivid colors of red, white and black. They have elegant venomous spines and a developed killing instinct. They are one of the top predators of this area, but the problem is, that they are not supposed to be here. 

Lionfish are a threat to our reefs. This invasive species is eating the native fish without anyone to stop them. Not even sharks seem interested in them. Someone needs to make a stand, and that someone is us, the Pez Maya team.

So with that on mind we decided to organize “THE HUNT”. This event had a triple purpose; the main one, of course, to help our reef by removing some of the Lionfish found in the area. The second was to help our fellow GVI colleagues in Nepal by raising money to buy supplies for the earthquake victims of the May 2015 earthquakes in that area. And, last but not least, this hunt was the launch of our new Lionfish research project at Pez Maya, were we will study, monitor and dissect this species in a more structured program.

We split into two teams, ‘The Guardians of the Reef ’ and ‘The Avengers’. We started off with a quiz on the biology, behavior and history of this fish. Next we watched tarining videos, receiving lectures, practised using the spear on land, and then in water; and finally finished off off with thorough safety precautions, especially on handling the fish after they have been shot.

Then came the day for the big hunt!  Our battleground was the diving site famous for the amount of Lionfish sightings and each team had 38 minutes to catch as many Lionfish as possible. We managed to catch 18 in total! All fish were
measured, filleted, and dissected and the information recorded. Interesting finds in the stomachs were things like
juvenile filefish, and a praying Mantis Shrimp – showing what a voracious predator the Lionfish really is. 

We ended the day off by cooking the lion fish. The Guardians of the Reef were a little more elegant, creating a breaded Lionfish dish served with white wine and dipping sauces. While The Avengers were a little more daring and created a ceviche full with flavour, strategically placed along the torso of one of the team members, who wore a simple palm loincloth. That act earned them the prize of the best presentation!

It was a fantastically fun day, but most importantly we caught 18 Lionfish, a new record in Pez Maya and more than $800 was donated to Nepal. 

We look forward to bringing you news of how this research project progresses. 

With Gratitude, 

GVI Mexico

Links:

Artist Alejandro of
Artist Alejandro of 'Washed Up'

Dear Supporter,

Never has the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” been so relevant than at the Museum of Garbage in the Sian Ka’an Reserve.  The Museum of Garbage, or “El Museo de la Basura”, is part of multimedia artist Alejandro Durán’s Washed Up project. Alejandro Durán has been visiting Sian Ka’an for over five years. When he first arrived he was surprised and disgusted by the amount of rubbish that washed up on the shores in this UNESCO World Heritage site. He says that his project, Washed Up, looks at the “issue of plastic pollution making its way across the ocean and onto the shores of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally-protected reserve.”

Alejandro has found rubbish from over 50 different countries, which has been carried to the shores of Sian Ka’an over the second largest barrier reef system in the world. The Washed Up project’s May events and the opening of the Museum of Garbage were designed to create and promote environmental awareness, and, to ultimately encourage changing the patterns of consumption and waste that humans have developed.

GVI helped to prepare and set up the art exhibitions at the Museum for the visiting children from Punta Allen. Volunteers reconstructed the toothbrush piece consisting of over 50 toothbrushes, which had been found washed up on the shores of Sian Ka’an. Others rinsed over 200 different shoes in various shades of blue to form a beautiful piece where all the shoes were placed in a massive spiral amongst the mangroves. Many others organized and sorted through rubbish with everybody contributing in many ways to help with the set-up of the Museum.

When the children came, staff and volunteers showed them around the museum with Alejandro as a guide. All of the students were surprised at the diverse origins of the rubbish and everyone was engaged and curious as to what piece of rubbish came from which country. The students spoke about their disappointment that there is so much trash in the ocean and talked about the messages they would like to send to the world to try to stop the pollution of the ocean.

The students all explored the museum and learnt a lot about recycling and plastics including which plastics are recyclable and which aren’t. A small beach clean with all of the children was completed after the tour and, after a talk from Alejandro, the event came to a close.

The final activity of the Washed Up project happened on Monday 11 May 2015 where the whole GVI team travelled down to Punta Allen, taking two truck loads of rubbish from the Museum. The rubbish was then carefully sorted into different colours ready to create a new art installation. In Punta Allen, GVI went to the Primary and Secondary school to take groups of students out to the local park where they made posters with the messages they wanted to send to the world about recycling and ocean pollution. 

Our Marine conservation project at Pez Maya can only be useful if we are able to educate people on how to improve their interactions with nature and help to protect and conserve our environment. The Washed Up initiative was an effective way to get important messages across to all of those involved.

GVi Pez Maya were very happy that they could support and contribute to such an amazing project. 

Thank you for your continued support, 

GVI Mexico

The local community at Punta Allen get involved
The local community at Punta Allen get involved
Students getting excited about recycling!
Students getting excited about recycling!
One of the installations at the Museum of Garbage
One of the installations at the Museum of Garbage

Links:

Dear Supporter,

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

Links:

Dear Supporter, 

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.

All the best

GVI Mexico

Links:

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Organization Information

Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Location: Exeter, Devon - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.gvi.org
Project Leader:
Kate Robey
St Albans, Herts United Kingdom