Water sports, exploring the ocean, and seeing marine life is one of the main draws of tourism in Baja California Sur.
As an important driver of the economy, local and regional government officials are working hard to ensure the experience tourists are expecting meets their demands for an ocean adventure.
An Underwater Theme Park
It’s hard to imagine a vacation in the resort destination town of Los Cabos without some type of experience that does not include the beach or water.
Tourists from all over the world know Los Cabos for its sportfishing, surfing, windsurfing, and even whale watching. Tourists can even enjoy the ocean from the shore with the scenic panoramas of Lands End and shady beachside palapas with dining and drink options.
Even La Paz has become a water destination in its own right, with not only whale-watching excursions and shark swimming but also island-hopping adventures and plenty of dramatic underwater snorkeling scenery.
Due to the popularity of La Paz as a premier snorkeling destination, the coral reefs in the area have felt the brunt of the increase in tourist traffic.
However, local and regional officials are proactively stepping in to help rebuild the coral reefs and improve the tourist snorkeling experience in La Paz.
Rebuilding The Reefs
The local organization Efecto Arena has taken to the seas to help the coral reefs recover from the influx of snorkelers in La Paz.
They are actively working to protect and preserve the local underwater ecosystem by planting reef colonies off the coast of La Paz. To date, they have planted more than 7,500 coral colonies and have another approximately 6,000 left to go.
According to Efecto Arena Jorge Iván Cáceres Puig, the group is excited to be making a difference in preserving the coral reefs.
The Issue in the Bay of La Paz
The increase of snorkelers in La Paz has had a significant impact on the undersea coral reefs in the bay. Much of the damage has come from snorkelers accidentally stepping on the coral reefs and breaking pieces off.
Cáceres Puig would like for the tour operators in the area to be more careful and advise their guests to be careful of the fragile ecosystem under their feet.
Snorkelers must be more careful not to step on the coral with their fins because they are actually hurting living organisms. Most tourists do not realize that corals are living creatures.
One of the main issues is around the La Lobera area around the islet of San Rafaelito near La Paz. Most tourists know this also as the place that tour operators call the sea lion nursery.
Tourist operators like to bring people to the calm waters here to “get their sea legs” snorkeling underwater. However, the practice comes with damage to the underwater coral reefs.
Steps to Restore the Coral Reefs
This is where Efecto Arena has decided to focus its efforts on rebuilding the coral reefs around La Paz. They venture into the water in this area to collect the broken-off pieces of coral reef and place them in an “incubator” where they can grow the reef segments.
In about half of a year, the broccoli-sized segments are considered an established young colony and ready to proceed to a second site where they are grown in size and prepared for transplanting.
The entire process can take a year or more to grow the colony to a size where it is ready to be moved to a more sheltered part of the ocean to continue the slow-growing process.
While the process can be slow, it does not deter the team from Efecto Arena from focusing on their goal to restore the coral reefs to full stature in La Paz.
The tourists checking the undersea life while snorkeling in the area will definitely appreciate their dedication to the coral reef preservation efforts as well.
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