While many vacationers choose to spend their holidays in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean in search of sun and beaches, the area also offers excellent opportunities to spot unique wildlife. Animal lovers will be delighted to know that Quintana Roo is one of the few states in Mexico which is home to the gentle and curious manatee. This article will tell you how and where to spot this majestic aquatic mammal.
There are several options to see manatees in their natural habitat in Quintana Roo. For solo travelers, the Manatee Sanctuary in Chetumal is a great way to observe the animal in one of the largest protected natural areas in the state. The park, which was founded in 1996, has worked hard to preserve endangered species while allowing visitors the chance to learn more about its natural habitat.
Guided tours are another excellent pick for tourists who want to learn more about the endangered species. The Xel-Há ecotourism park is one of the most popular tourist attractions near Tulum which offers visitors the chance to swim and interact with manatees in a sustainable way. As part of the park’s commitment to improving awareness, an expert guide teaches visitors about the animal’s status, feeding habits, and natural habitat. Over the course of 40 minutes, tourists can snorkel and swim with the elegant animal.
For tourists staying in Cancun, Dtraveller offers a comprehensive tour of the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Isla Mujeres, where visitors can swim and interact with the gentle giants. The tour includes round-trip transportation to the island on a ferry, as well as a professional guide. Competitively priced at $68 per person, the tour also includes a buffet lunch as well as an open bar on the ferry.
Meanwhile, solo travelers can head to the Manatee Sanctuary in Chetumal where they can spot not only manatees but also other protected species such as crocodiles and turtles. The sanctuary is located around 30 minutes north of Chetumal, a city that has direct flights from Miami, and the sanctuary easily reached by car. Visitors can take the national highway route 307 Chetumal-Cancún, or highway 186 towards Chetumal from the south to reach the sanctuary.
Manatees or West Indian Manatees are aquatic mammals that have evolved over millions of years. They can be found in a range of habitats such as rivers, bays, canals, and coastal lagoons from Florida all the way to Brazil. Weighing up to 500 kilograms, manatees have a life expectancy of up to 60 years, and around 90 manatees are known to live in the Chetumal sanctuary.
There are several tips to keep in mind when visiting the Manatee Sanctuary. Although tourists are allowed to swim on the premises of the protected area, they should avoid touching or disturbing manatees. With that being said, it’s a good idea to pack bug repellent and sunscreen. With plenty of sunshine to go around, it goes without saying that water is a necessity when visiting the area.
Although manatees can be found in a few states around Mexico, Quintana Roo has been at the forefront of various conservation efforts aimed at protecting delicate species. In 1996, the state founded the Manatee Sanctuary which has successfully limited harmful sources of human activity such as fishing or boating, which have been the leading cause of falling manatee numbers. Once complete, the Maya Train will also allow tourists to get closer than ever before to top nature sites where they can spot local wildlife including the famous manatee.
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