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This is a tale of impunity…
This is the history of a hotel development,
This is the history of the
“Gran Bahia Principe Hotel” in the Riviera Maya,
the implacable predator.
We are presenting to you,
We will attempt to condense 9 years of
We will include photos to illustrate the obvious.
Currently being constructed the latest stages of the hotel (we don’t know where they will stop).
A clear modification to the coast line can be
noticed. The rocky zone (coralina) has been
removed, putting in its place a limey construction material known in the region as “sascab”, covering it with a thin layer of sand.
Akumal means place of turtles in Mayan.
Aventuras Akumal 3 years ago, being constructed the first stage of the Bahia Principe’s development.
The dune and the mangrove are intact. In the
Entrance to the Bahia Principe’s Hotel Complex.
3 hotels in one and growing…
Online publicity of H.B.P.
In the photographs it can be seen how the installations of the hotel have invaded the turtle nesting areas by constructing palapas, sun beds, and piers
The development has generated a lot of low level jobs,
This is a panoramic view of the hotel complex. New artificial Beaches with no sand base (“sascab”) which makes it impossible for the turtles to nest.
The mangrove of Aventuras Akumal 8 years ago. Healthy, strong and protective.
Today it is buried under the hotel.
The mangrove can be seen on the lower part.
The mangrove is getting locked up between construction and infrastructure of the hotel complex. The size of the mangrove was reduced but it was still alive.
The locked up mangrove is drying up and dying “mysteriously”.
No one remembers it. No one? In the middle-right part of the photograph one can see the rest of it.
Right after a Hurricane, Wilma in this case, the mangroves are left without
green leaves …
…but can heal
week by week… if we leave them alone. In the image to the right, we show the mangrove of the hotel complex, just a few days after Wilma.
Actual aerial view without mangrove. The mangroves are protected by the Mexican law.
The 60 TER article and the 99 article of the general law of wild life prohibit activities that can disturb the natural water flow of the mangrove, of the ecosystem and its zone of influence, its productivity, lifting capacity, reproduction zones, and interaction.
Aug / 05
One of the few beaches left for local Mexican people is now invaded by sun beds and Bahia’s guests.
Aug / 05
In Mexico there are no private beaches by law, only blocked access roads.
Beach bar in the white sand of DIF’s beach. This is only accessible for guests of Bahia Principe (with bracelet, of course).
DIF is a public program which helps senior adults and homeless children. DIF’s installations and beaches
Impunity. Local press has brought the problem to public attention. The local and federal authorities have done nothing to solve the problem.
Akumal beaches, and principally the ones to the south (Aventuras Akumal, Aventuras-DIF,
Impunity. Ecologists have filed reports to the government in an attempt to stop the destruction. No action was taken on these reports.
Turtle tracks made when the hotel machineries were working on the beach “repairing”.
Caretta caretta and Chelonya mydas
Turtle nest made the night after Hurricane Dean.
Aventuras-DIF’s beach plays a very important part on hatchling recruitment. Hotels built on turtles nesting areas require moving of the natural nests. This causes changes in the turtles population structure. Akeman, R. A. 1996. The Nest Enviroment and the embryonic Development of Sea Turtles.
The heavy machinery (very heavy) works above the turtles. Nesting…Being born… Dying…
Right after Hurricane Dean heavy trucks depositing the construction material (“sascab”)
beach with sascab it is exposing the turtles to hard conditions and can even kill them”
Photo 20 (Map 1)
This graphic shows the areas where the “sascab” was applied in the nesting areas.
The same history but right alter hurricane Wilma.
The Loss and degradation of nesting areas caused by erosion, devouring, modification and artificial light is a serious problem attacking the sea turtles and their hatchlings.
It wasn’t a secret, at least locally.
Machinery above sea turtles nests.
“It is proved that sascab is bad for coral, it doesn’t let it breathe, doesn’t let the small fishes grow and, when it‘s too much it doesn’t let light go through the water and kills marine vegetation.”
Unmarked nests can be smashed or crushed by heavy machinery works and the turtles may get trapped in the excavations.
Although the problem became public and obvious, the local and federal authorities did nothing.
The “sascab” is white like sand, but is much different than sand. For turtles it is impossible to dig a nest on “sascab”. When “sascab” mixes with water it spreads little particles which attach on the coral and kill it.
It looked like something was going to happen. The hope never dies.
Sign buried on “sascab”. We believed this was the beginning of something. The beginning of the end.
PROFEPA (the Mexican authority for environmental protection) said that no heavy machinery worked over nesting areas.
In the photograph a heavy machine with a long arm is clearly seen in front of the DIF. Isn’t this one of the main nesting areas?
Report filed in 2005 against the installation of the geotubes in the hotel`s beach
Soon all Caribbean beaches will be invaded with these giant bags.
The geo textile tubes are sold to create beaches in places without one, brutally breaking the environment where these are used. In this case, they even presume the invention of a beach over Bahia’s place, when it is clearly seen in the photo how most of the reef was buried.
The section of beach in front of the Bahia Prinicpe and to the immediate south of the DIF was filled mixing sascab and sand, making this an “artificial beach”, with totally different properties from the adjacent beaches. The turtles turned away by the dock, end in this artificial beach, making rounds without finding
These structures may injure the nesting turtles and the hatchlings. A beach with geotubes may cause the permanent loss of the nesting habitat. Furthermore, they dissuade the female turtles to reach optimum places for nesting.
Artificial seawalls, wave breakers, sand bags and geotextile tubes deny access to high areas of the beach or the dune system limiting the size of the nesting zone.
Nice way to spend a vacation on the Caribbean, over a giant liver.
Geotextile tubes provoke a change in the water flow and destroy the microhabitat. Furthermore they perturb the nesting site selection, causing hatchling displacement and affecting the area of alimentation.
Graffiti isn’t just for cities anymore. Thanks to the introduction of walls in the sea…graffiti finds its way to the ocean.
There are currently no independent, long-term studies of geotextile tubes and their stability in a marine enviorment. Such uncertainties indicate that geotextile tubes remain an experimental technology. It is an unwise policy to allow installations of uncertain technologies, particularly on beaches supporting endangered species such as sea turtles.
The bad aspect that is given to the ocean is not only for its appearance but for the damage they cause.
Another issue presenting itself as Geotextile Tubes could modify nest moisture by causing flooding or reducing drainage since the tube is less permeable than natural sand. Geotextile tubes are supposed to be buried at least 3 feet deep… but turtles can dig over 5 feet deep before starting to lay their eggs.
Deterioration can be seen in the titanic bags. It is common to find pieces floating along the sea. In the image one of the covers was picked up from the ocean.
After Hurricane Dean this geotube was found blanketing the reef, 100 meters from the shoreline. WE carefully moved it from the coral reef to the coastline. More than five people were needed to pull the bag out of the ocean. Today Bahia Principe’s geotube rows seem different and smaller.
In the summer of 2006, in front of Bahia Principe, this man was captured on film while he was
All the media was informed, and given photos. This was the only article published by one local paper; the other ones chose to be silent.
Multiple green pipes coming from the sea were seen at the Bahia’s beach right alter Hurricane Dean. None of our questions about them were answered.
In the summer of 2006 a “fountain” appeared in front of Bahia Principe’s beach. A group of workers were sent to solve the problem.
They raised a tube and we took another photograph. The liquid content becomes obvious when you see the color of this discharge.
A hole was dug a couple of meters from the sea, we wanted to check the state of the sand but we found something very disturbing…
Just a foot below the surface, a grey and smelly liquid runs.
So we dug another (bigger) hole to expose what is under the tourists feet.
By the next day the hole became a small lagoon with white sediment floating on the surface, the odor of this liquid was repulsive and vile.
Ignoring the repulsive smell, they had the audacity to put sun beds around the stinky lake. Maybe they are trying make this a new attraction.
This wasn’t the first time we saw this happening.
In this photograph Bahia Principe’s workers are shown while they were pumping black liquid by the side of the highway. Pollution is spread over the mangrove. Are they trying to kill the mangrove to build over dead trees as they did before?
Sometimes like this one, people appear on blue trucks with the MARENTER logo, and they put this pipe from the hotel to the beach…
… And they attach it to the underwater
… they start to suck sand…
…filling these black sacks with the sand…
…They put the sacks on the back of the truck and as fast as they arrive they leave.
Photo 55 (Mapa 2)
Mega development named “Naj K’aax” which means “new home” in Mayan, includes the expansion of the three hotels
Online publicity of H.B.P.
Photo 57 (Map 3)
Aktun Chen system. All rivers in the Yucatán Peninsula run underground.
During the glacial eras, the last around 10 thousand years ago, even the lowest part of the river systems stayed dry.
In this beautiful ecosystem lives a small and fantastic creature commonly called ¨Blind fish¨
Thousands of years ago, the underground rivers of the Yucatan Peninsula suffered collapses or breakdowns in some areas of the ceilings. These collapses are known as “cenotes”.
In the images you will see the cenotes that are found in the zone where they are building a golf course for Bahia Principe.
As shown in this map, Bahia Principe is building its golf course on top of the underground river system known as Aktun Chen.
The impacts that will be dealt to the vegetation are clearly adverse given to imply the loss of all type of vegetation. These are direct impacts of… permanent duration, the effects are irreversible with low probabilities to recuperate.
Text taken from the impact study that Bahia Principe presented to the Mexican government states nothing can have permanent damage and/or a low probability to recuperate.
The zone is the natural habitat of animals like the coati (Nassau larica yucatanica), the panther Herpailurus yagouaroundi),
All the Riviera Maya is formed by limestone layers and its geography is flat.
Therefore the water
filtration to the underground rivers happens
The water in these underground rivers run as fast as rivers on the surface, carrying with it the food from the mangrove to the reef.
A golf course needs 5 tons of chemicals per year for its upkeep.
The official program of ecological territorial management of the region called
Golf courses need the usage of chemical compounds such as the MSMA, the Oryzalin,
A high amount of artificial chemicals are injected into the environment with the usage of pesticides (fungicides, herbicides and insecticides). They have the potential to perturb the endocrine system of animals, including humans. These are persistent substances, bioaccumulative and body halogenous PAN, pesticides database
The arecaceae (Thrinax radiata), the bignoniaceae (Tabebuia chrysantha), the combretaceae (Conocarpus erecta), the rhizophoraceae (Rhizophora mangle) and the verbenaceae (Avicennia germinans) are endangered plant species found in the zone. These are protected under the
8400 cubic meters of water are necessary to maintain a 27 hole golf course. In the state of Quintana Roo a critical water situation can be expected by the year 2025.
In the official program of ecological territorial management of the region called “Corredor Cancun – Tulum” in the article FF 18 the usage of chemical compounds for the control of weeds is prohibited. In the photograph the machine
debilitates the mangrove by
pumping chemicals on it. They must kill the mangrove to build over it.
The phosphorus and the nitrogen in the fertilizers quickly leaks through the ground reaching the underground rivers and cave systems. This abnormally high content of nutrients in the water stimulates the fast growing of sea weed covering and killing the coral reef. Aikido Takeda, May 1996, “Golf courses on Japan and deforestation”
In the authorization granted by the Federal Delegation of the Secretary of Environment and Resources in the State of Quintana Roo the conditions the Hotel Group to follow 17 terms and 25 conditions, in order to be able to carry out the development of Naj K'aax and the extension of the Bahia Principe’s hotels.
In this photo, one of the trucks was photographed at the beach depositing sascab without the corresponding permissions as PROFEPA requires.
This truck has the logo of the company in charge of the construction of the golf course…
This is a clear violation to third term of the authorization.
The creation of artificial lakes is not mentioned in the First Term, which specifies the works authorized for mega development of Naj K'aax.
In the Tenth Term of the authorization granted to the development it states: All the acts will be null of right plenary session that take place in disobedience to the arranged in the present authorization. Of such effect, the breach on the part of the developer to any one of the Terms and/or conditions established in this authorization will invalidate the reach of the present notwithstanding the application of the sanctions anticipated in the orderings that are applicable.
Handcut Mangrove swamp in a supposed area of ecological conservation of the golf course.
And in the Thirteenth Term it is mentioned:
And History not yet finished....
In the photo a mud with properties foreign to this region is exposed. Underneath this original earth is a buried mangrove swamp.
Please realize this is only one history of impunity with so many more to be concerned with in the beautiful Riviera Maya.
We hope the citizens of Mexico and the Government can work together to protect our valuable resources for the enjoyment of all future generations, including our mainstay….
This text was made by S.A.V.E a nonlucrative
Book, Photograph’s and Videos By:
Juan Pablo Montoya