Cozumel, Q.R. — Government officials are analyzing another situation at Cozumel after a photo circulating of youths holding a starfish has been discovered.
Numerous bad practices by tour companies are under investigation by the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp). This latest incident happened at the beach of El Cielo, a popular snorkeling and tour area where a group of five young men are photographed with a starfish in their boat.
The starfish was plucked from the sea bottom during a snorkeling tour. El Cielo is part of the Cozumel Marine Park which means it is a protected area. The image caused a stir among the island’s environmentalists who demanded that CONANP take action on the matter.
Noemí Guadalupe Martín Cab, president of Conservation, Research and Environmental Management of Cozumel (Cimac), said there is a lack of awareness of tour operators “who know perfectly well that one of the rules is to not touch the marine life.”
While Guadalupe Álvarez Chulim de Azueta, president of the organization Cielo, Tierra y Mar, described the actions of the young group of men as “outrageous”, Christopher Arturo González Baca of Conanp said that he has seen the photo, but since there is not much information at the moment, it will be difficult to find those responsible since it is believed they were tourists.
Continued violations in the protected marine areas of Cozumel could lead to a restricted number of tour boats or even closure of some areas.
In June, a Playa del Carmen diver was photographed holding a toadfish in the protected marine area of Cozumel and was eventually fired for his misconduct.