The east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula contains two natural systems with significant biological wealth. The first is the Caribbean Sea, a tropical region of the Atlantic Ocean situated between archipelagos and the continental zone of America. This site shelters the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, considered the second-largest coral reef barrier on the planet, extending approximately 1,000 Km in length, from Quintana Roo State in Mexico to the Honduras.
Five years ago, Delphinus visualized a manner of providing the local community information not just on this region’s amazing marine landscape, but also on the tremendous adversities faced by marine life forced to confront human activity. This, of course, led to the need to propose ways to counteract these harmful activities. It was then, in 2013, when we created the “Festival de los Océanos del Caribe Mexicano” (Festival of the Oceans of the Mexican Caribbean), beginning the first year with a three-day celebration culminating on June 8th. The project has grown every year, and now in 2016 the celebration lasted four weeks. During that time we offered different activities for serving the environment, such as free concerts, drawing and photography contests, ocean-themed artistic endeavors on walls, an inter-collegiate gastronomy contest, beach cleaning, special expositions, sports events, and science conferences.
This initiative has been organized for the general public’s enjoyment, first and foremost for the Quintana Roo community, and then its visitors. All these activities are aimed at gaining the participation of students, civic organizations, artists, everyday citizens, government institutions, and private companies. The events are designed around four topics that affect the integrity of marine ecosystems: pollution of the ocean by plastic and trash, overfishing, climate change, and invasion of exotic species. These themes are also covered in Delphinus’ Environmental Education Plan, which offers the public the opportunity to be informed, to reflect, and to make a commitment to improving this situation as they participate.
The Festival of the Oceans, held from May 14 to June 16th, 2016, is now completing its fourth year. We are proud of the results obtained, which include collecting 506 kg of trash during three beach and mangrove cleaning expeditions in Puerto Morelos and the Isla Contoy Natural Reserve, with the collaboration of 280 volunteers. The Festival also sponsored a cook-off to promote lionfish consumption as a strategy for containing the alarming growth of the lionfish population in our reefs. We sought to promote local arts by sponsoring wall painting in Cancun and a children’s symphony orchestra performance, as well as a series of scientific conferences with national and international experts on coral ecology, the vaquita marina, and overfishing in Mexico. A popular sports activity offered during the Festival was free sailing lessons; in addition, a statewide children’s drawing contest, among other activities, was held.
On December 4, 2016, the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico awarded Delphinus the Ecological Merit Award 2016 Special Mention in the category of Environmental Communication and Culture for the “Festival of the Oceans of the Mexican Caribbean”, at the Conference of the Parties to the Agreement on Biological Diversity, in the CoP 13 held in Cancun. In order to receive this special mention, the event and our organization were nominated by social organizations not affiliated with Delphinus. The qualifying jury was made up of environmental experts, members of the academic community, and independent researchers from outside the governmental agency that invited them to participate.
For Delphinus, the Festival of the Oceans of the Mexican Caribbean has been one of the biggest projects it has developed for the local community as part of their social responsibility program. This distinction underlines its commitment to achieving a greater amount of citizens and associates who will join our efforts to conserve the oceans for brilliant blue planet. The 5th Annual Festival of the Oceans of the Mexican Caribbean will be held from May 20 to June 11, 2017.
Noteworthy Numbers regarding the Festival of the Oceans:
- Consumption of more than 800 kilograms of lionfish, an invasive species of the Mexican Caribbean.
- More than 64 culinary creations using lionfish, made by gastronomy students to promote lionfish consumption.
- More than 1,200 kilograms of trash picked up on beaches and mangroves, with the support of more than 800 volunteers.
- 16 conference lectures with Mexican and international marine life experts given free entrance during the scientific disclosure conference series, with 700 attendees.
- More than 600 drawings by primary and secondary school students participating in the contest.
- 2 exhibition sailboat regattas and free sailing classes for more than 450 participants.
- 2 magna concerts by the Esperanza Azteca Symphonic Orchestra.
- One 150-meter artistically decorated fence donated by Delphinus and Alan Vazquez to the Cancun community.