Sian Ka’an Biosphere Beach – in need of a clean up

Saturday, 15 March 2014

I’ve been staying in the 5000 square km Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve on the Caribbean coast of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Cancun is the big beach resort of Quintana Roo, but the state also features other resorts (Playa del Carmen and lower key Tulum), the island of Cozumel, an assortment of Mayan ruins (Tulum and Coba in particular), countless cenotes (limestone sinkholes filled with crystal clear freshwater) and the biosphere reserve. IMG_3405 - Casa Nalum beach 542 ▲ With a group of friend we rented Casa Nalum, a beachfront villa just south of Tulum. Drive to the end of the Tulum beach strip, cross into the Sian Ka’an reserve and bounce down the potholed reserve road for six km. Could you ask for a more beautiful beach than the golden sand that unrolls in front of our villa? But our golden sand stays that way because Marco, the villa gardener rakes the sand and clears the night’s delivery of flotsam and jetsam – most of it plastic – every morning. The same process takes place at other villas, eco-resorts and campsites along the beach.

In between those tended stretches of pristine sand it’s a mess. ▼ IMG_3580 - general mess 542 IMG_3590 - threatening sky 542

IMG_3589 - coconuts 271 One slightly stormy afternoon I spent a couple of hours walking along the beach towards Tulum and back, documenting the trash. Of course there’s lots of natural stuff cast up, like this lopped off top of a palm tree washing ashore.


◄ And plenty of coconuts and seaweed.   IMG_3587 - bottles 542 ▲ But mostly it’s plastic, thousands – probably tens of thousands along my walk – of bottles. Some glass, but mostly plastic. IMG_3605 - shoe pattern 542 ▲ Huge numbers of shoes which some beach walkers feel obliged to arrange into neat patterns. IMG_3583 - small shoes 542 ▲ Lining up the little ones. IMG_3595 - big Convese shoe ▲ Although plenty of big running shoes of often impressive size also float ashore. Like this giant’s Converse. IMG_3594 - blue pig 542 IMG_3577 - colander 271▲ I spotted this blue pig and, further along the beach, its green counterpart.

◄ A colander


IMG_3581 - fridge door

IMG_3608 - toilet seat 271▲ A fridge door

◄ A toilet seat, along with a number of bits of chair. And plenty more. Moby Duck is a terrific book about what floats around in our oceans and I’ve visited Ducie Island, a remote Pacific atoll noted for its amazing beach collection.