CANCUN (MEXICO)- Every year between may and September whale sharks gather off the Caribbean coast of the peninsula of Yucatan. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has decided to protect these gentle giants by creating an official refuge area of 633,000 hectares.

The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, through the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, will enforce the protection program of the refuge area, so they published in the Official Mexican Gazette. The protection program will establish the conservation and management conditions in the refuge area under the terms of Article 69 of the General Wildlife Law.

Transition area between Gulf and Caribbean

According to the decree the marine area is a transition area between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, “in which a varied biodiversity is presented, product of the marine upwellings that converge and favor an increase in the production of phytoplankton and zooplankton.” This creates one of the best worldwide hot spots for whale sharks.

Isla Holbox

The official refuge area is located between Isla Mujeres, Puerto Juarez, Chiquilá and Isla Holbox in front of the municipalities of Lázaro Cárdenas, Benito Juárez and Isla Mujeres in the state of Quintana Roo. It is over 633,000 hectares large and includes the Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve by including a greater distance to the north of Holbox as well as an extension to the east and north of Isla Mujeres.

Let’s hope that the tourism sector will respect the wellbeing of the whale sharks as well, as thousands of tourists come to Yucatan every year to snorkel with the whale sharks.