Tulum, Q.R. — Federal officials have reopened snorkeling with the turtles in the bay of Akumal.
After a suspension of nearly two months, federal authorities have reevaluated the bay and have reopened the option to swim with turtles, but this time, with strictly enforced rules.
Several government agencies including the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and the Federal Environment Protection Agency, will be once again granting permits for tourists to snorkel with the turtles.
Companies wishing to invite tourists to the bay will have to comply with a new set of rules, the first of which is a maximum load of 12 tourists for each provider.
Other rules include a time frame which is 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. being the only times tour groups can enter the bay to swim with the turtles. Tourists will only be allowed to swim in specific areas, something that was not previously monitored or enforced.
Each tour group entering bay waters can only consist of a maximum of six people at one time and each group must be accompanied by an authorized tour guide who can tour a group for a maximum of 65 minutes.
More caution will be taken along the beach areas, when people enter and exit the water, as well as the equipment they wear and the now-mandatory biodegradable sunscreen policy.
Other rules include tourists maintaining a minimum distance of three meters from the turtles with a maximum observation time of five minutes. At no time are tourists allowed to touch, feed or harass the turtles, nor are they allowed to disturb or damage the underwater areas including the removal of coral or other specimens.
According to federal officials, if the turtles show signs of distress such as rapid movements, long dives or evasion, observation activities will again be suspended.