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Arrecife Alacranes National Park

Arrecife Alacranes National Park

The Arrecife Alacranes National Park is a Natural Protected Area with the largest coral structure in the Gulf of Mexico.

Geography –
The Arrecife Alacranes National Park is a protected area located in the Gulf of Mexico, more precisely in the state of Yucatán, Mexico. This park constitutes a Natural Protected Area of great importance in the country, as it constitutes the largest coral structure in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the coral reef of the State of Yucatan. It is made up of five islets: Isla Pérez, Isla Blanca or Chica, Isla Muertos or Desertora, Isla Pajaros and Isla Desterrada.
The coral reef is surrounded by shallow tropical waters and the islands’ vegetation consists of dune and mangrove species.
The main starting point to access the Park is Puerto Progreso. Entry to this area must be via watercraft (speedboat, boat, etc.).
Some of the activities that can be carried out are: recreational diving, observation of flora and fauna, boat trips, recreational fishing and motorboat excursions.
Alacranes Arrecife National Park is located about 130 kilometers north of the port of Progreso, in Yucatán, on the Gulf of Mexico. It is located in a marine region that extends for approximately 1,400 square kilometers.
The park is known for its impressive coral reefs that extend throughout the area. These coral reefs are home to a variety of marine life, including tropical fish, shellfish, sea turtles and more. Furthermore, coral reefs are a key part of the marine ecosystem, providing habitat for many marine species.
The park consists of a group of small islands and islets, of which Alacranes Island is the largest and most iconic. This island is the one that gives its name to the park and is a popular destination for diving and snorkelling lovers. Other notable islands in the park include Isla Pérez and Isla Chica.
Arrecife Alacranes National Park is an important refuge and breeding area for various marine species, such as sea turtles (such as the green turtle and hawksbill turtle), seabirds, and a wide variety of fish and crustaceans.
Due to its ecological importance and fragility, access to the Arrecife Alacranes National Park is regulated and controlled. Visiting requires a special permit and human activities are strictly regulated to protect the marine ecosystem.
The park is part of Mexico’s marine conservation efforts and is under the protection of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP). The main objective is to preserve the biodiversity and unique ecosystem of the coral reefs of this region.

Climate –
The climate in this region is generally classified as tropical, specifically as a tropical monsoon climate.
Temperatures in this region tend to be warm year-round. Average maximum temperatures range between 28°C and 34°C (82°F to 93°F), while average minimum temperatures are typically between 18°C and 24°C (64°F to 75°F).
The climate is characteristic of the monsoon type, which means that there is a rainy season and a dry season. The rainy season generally runs from June to October, with significantly higher rainfall during this period. The dry season runs from November to May, with less rain.
The Gulf of Mexico region is prone to hurricane formation during hurricane season, which generally runs from June to November. Arrecife Alacranes National Park may be in the path of these tropical cyclones, which can cause extremely severe weather.
During hurricane and tropical storm season, the region may experience strong winds and gusts due to the influence of these weather systems.
The water in the Gulf of Mexico is generally warm, with temperatures varying seasonally. In general, warm waters tend to be attractive to marine life, including the coral reefs found in Arrecife Alacranes National Park.

Flora –
Arrecife Alacranes National Park is a protected natural area known for its rich marine biodiversity, including coral reefs, various species of fish and marine life. Choosing when to visit the park may depend on your personal preferences and specific activities, but keep in mind weather conditions and the possibility of hurricanes if you plan to visit during hurricane season. Furthermore, it is important to respect park regulations to protect this fragile marine ecosystem.
The park is home to a variety of algae species that play an important role in the marine ecosystem by providing shelter and food to various forms of marine life.
The coral reefs are one of the main attractions of the park. Different types of hard and soft corals can be found, such as brain coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis) and elkhorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), which are essential for the health of the marine ecosystem.
In shallow water areas you can find marine algae, such as Thalassia testudinum, which serves as a habitat and food source for many marine species, including sea turtles and fish.
Mangroves are coastal forests that serve as natural nurseries for fish and shellfish. In the Arrecife Alacranes National Park there are mangroves such as the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and the white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa).
Sargassum is a type of floating algae that can be found in large quantities in Caribbean waters, including the Gulf of Mexico. Although it is not a plant that adheres to the seabed, it constitutes an important part of the marine ecosystem as it provides shelter and food for various marine species.
Marine sponges, present in these seas, are filter-feeding organisms that adhere to coral and rocky structures on the seabed. They are important for water filtration and provide habitat for small organisms.
It is important to note that Arrecife Alacranes National Park is a protected natural area and special precautions must be taken to preserve its flora and fauna. The collection of marine plants, corals or any other type of marine life is prohibited and local and national regulations must be followed to protect this precious marine ecosystem. Additionally, snorkeling and diving are popular activities in the park, allowing you to explore and appreciate its rich underwater biodiversity.

Fauna –
The fauna of the Arrecife Alacranes National Park is very varied and hosts a wide variety of marine species.
The Alacranes reef consists mainly of corals, including elk coral and brain coral. These corals provide crucial habitats for myriad other species.
The coral reef is home to a wide variety of tropical fish, such as angelfish, parrotfish, surgeonfish, clownfish and many others. It is also an important breeding ground for commercial fish such as grouper and snapper.
Several species of sharks can be found in the surrounding waters, including reef sharks, blacktip sharks and hammerhead sharks. These sharks are an integral part of the marine ecosystem.
The Arrecife Alacranes National Park is an important nesting site for sea turtles. Species that visit the area include the hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle and green turtle.
The coral reef and its surroundings are the habitat of various seabirds, such as pelicans, frigate birds, gulls and terns.
Along with corals, the reef is home to a wide variety of marine invertebrates, including sponges, anemones, sea urchins, starfish and other organisms.
In the waters near the coral reef you can spot dolphins and, occasionally, manatees.
We remind you that any human activity in the area is subject to restrictions and regulations to minimize the impact on the marine ecosystem.

Guido Bissanti

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