Over 22 years ago the owners of Las Casitas and two other groups decided to bring ecology to the Riviera Maya coast for the first time ever. Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA) was born. Even today Casita owners comprise about half the Board.
MISSION/PROGRAMS: Then and now CEA does much research and dissemination of information to aid in sustainable development and teach the conservation and protection of coastal ecosystems and the environment to all local people.
A. The Mesoamerican Reef…the second longest in the world…extends from the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula down to Honduras, and is closest to land in the Akumal region. CEA does extensive work in Coral Reef Monitoring and protection, and Seagrass Monitoring (since turtles eat the seagrass).
B. CEA promotes the sustainable use of all natural resources: coral, fish, water quality, interaction with snorkelers, and monitors/tags all turtles in the bay. Due to the work and studies by CEA the Federal Government in 2015 declared Akumal a protected Fish Refuge/Sanctuary out to 1 ½ kilometers from the beach.
C.In March 2016, Akumal Bay was declared a Marine Refuge for Protected Species by Mexican Federal Authorities. The protected area runs approximately 11 kilometers along the coast from Xcacel to Akumal. It overlaps with, but extends farther than, the current Fish Refuge Area. The protected species include:
Three species of turtles: the green, the loggerhead and the hawksbill;
Four species of corals: elkhorn, staghorn, soft corals and sea fans;
Three species of mangrove: white, buttonwood and red;
Three species of seagrass
D. CEA has programs to educate children in schools about environmental issues, introduced recycling many years ago; brought the Wetlands system here to eliminate waste by growing trees (which Las Casitas uses), and has a Water Quality Management Program to preserve and protect the land, coastal and marine waters and to help communities make sustainable choices that reduce or prevent water quality problems.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: When in Akumal you can volunteer your time from June to October to help patrol the beaches to protect the nesting turtles, their nests and hatchlings. Those interested should contact CEA directly. (firstname.lastname@example.org). In 2015 alone there were 924 turtle nests and over 75,000 hatchlings.