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by Orient-Express
Maroma Mexico - Maroma Resort and Spa in Mexico

Ecology

The Yucatán Peninsula exists because millions of years ago a cataclysmic event occurred which killed almost all life on earth, including billions of coral polyps, and when the seas receded as a result of the same event, there it was – a porous limestone promontory rising out of the ocean.

The northern part of the Peninsula has no aboveground rivers, but there is plenty of fresh water flowing underground through the honeycombed limestone which often opens up into caves and cenotes – deep sink holes filled with crystalline water.

Above ground there is literally not much ground. The sparse topsoil is peppered with rocks and boulders and is very poor in minerals, yet it is blanketed by a lush jungle which supports tens of thousands of plant, animal, reptile, insect and fungus species. Abutting this humid, fecund environment is the ocean with its offshore coral reef, which is the living component of the limestone, which underlies the land. 

The reef, like the rainforest, is an intricate and delicately balanced environment which requires constant levels of warm, clear water, sunlight, salinity and strong currents to sustain fish, molluscs, crustaceans, turtles, plants, corals, sponges, all the way down to microscopic plankton.

Bridging the transition between jungle and ocean is the mangrove swamp, which acts as a filter for water travelling from land to sea and a breeding ground for many aquatic and land-based species.

These three environments – which at Maroma we can study up close in the mile-wide band of land between the highway and our beach – seem very different, but in reality they are delicately interrelated, and any change in one will be reflected in the others.

The Challenge

It takes 60 - 100 years to fill the gap when one tree falls in the jungle, and during the past 35 years over half of Mexico’s rainforest has been cleared. For each missing tree there is microscopically less rainfall, more soil runoff, warmer reef water, less food and shelter, and finally a fewer and fewer species. Our goal, as latecomers to this eco-system, must be to observe it, to enjoy it, to learn from it and to intrude as little as possible.

 

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