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Sian Ka'an Reserve Isla Contoy National Park Tulum National Park
Isla de Mujeres' Western Coast Cozumel Reefs National Park

MEXICO NATURE

COZUMEL REEFS NATIONAL PARK

Since immemorial times the Island of Cozumel was an important place for the veneration of Ixchel - goddess of love and fertility -. Today the Island still attracts many devotees, although now the cult is centred on its superb coral reefs.
The Park was created in July of 1996 and it has an extension of 11987 hectares from the Paraíso Reef to Punta Chiqueros, on the southern coast of the Island of Cozumel.
Besides its complex coral system, habitat of a notable marine biodiversity, there is a valuable terrestrial flora and fauna within this protected area.
Administered by the National Institute of Ecology, the Park was created for the purpose of protecting the coral reefs, which have turned Cozumel into the third most attended destination for scuba diving worldwide, being visited by an average of one thousand 500 sportspeople a day.
The coral reefs of Paraíso, Palancar, Tormentos, Yucab and San Francisco, amongst others, stand out in this fantastic sea world. In all of them visibility is generous with a range of up to 60 metres, the temperature is adequate fluctuating between 26º and 28º c, and the setting is irresistible and fascinating.
Regarding the flora and fauna, they are colourful and variegated, with the beautiful antler corals (Acropora cervicornis) and the anemone known as the Portuguese frigate (Physalia physalia) standing out. There are also crustaceous such as the purple crab (Mennipe mercenaria) and more than 500 varieties of fishes.
There are aquatic mammals in the waters of the Park such as the common dolphin (Delphinus delphi) and the bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus); and several endangered specimens with the loggerhead (Caretta caretta), the white (Chelonia mydas) and the carey (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles standing out. There are also thorny lobsters (Panulirus Aarhus), the Strombus gigas snail and some species of black coral (Antipathes sp.).
Likewise, the flora is vigorous with communities of algae such as the so-called brocha (Pennincillus pyriformis) and the sea pearl (Valonia macrophysa), besides the seaweeds and sandbanks that constitute a perfect habitat for sea life, of which a minute part is known thus far.
The Park presents land fringes with mangroves, coastal hedges, and low and mid forests. We have the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), the black (Avicennia germinans) and the white (Laguncularia racemosa), just to cite but a few, standing out.
The midget racoon (Procyon pygmaeus), endemic from Cozumel, and an important diversity of birds, such as the cormorants (Phalacrocorax Auritas), pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) and the frigates (Fregata magnifiscens), dwell in this geographic environment.
This National Park is located 68 kilometres south of Cancun and 18 kilometres offshore from Playa del Carmen. There are shuttles weighing anchor on a daily basis bound for the Island. Puerto Morales is another port of departure. It can also be accessed by air because Cozumel has an international airport.

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