Cozumel has long been committed to preserving its natural environment. A world famous dive destination and home to the largest reef system in the Western hemisphere, Cozumel is especially dedicated to the conservation of its vast marine life and 20 miles of coral reefs. On June 2, 2006, Cozumel sank two former Mexican Navy ships along its coast to create new artificial reefs in an effort to help relieve stress on the island's existing reef systems while also providing new underwater sites for divers to explore.
The historic event launched the beginning of a long-term reef relief program developed to help revitalize Cozumel's famed reefs, which were affected by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Over the course of the next year, an additional three ships will be submerged, adding a total of five vessels, as well as an airplane to Cozumel's majestic underwater eco-system.
"We are deeply committed to protecting Cozumel's natural environment as it is one of the things that make the island so special. The reef program will not only help preserve the marine life of the island, but it will add more options and adventures for the more than 80,000 new and repeat divers that visit each year," explained Raul Marrufo, Director of the Cozumel Tourism Promotion Board. "We are confident that these new additions will help ensure the reefs are around for many years to come and also heighten the island's popularity among divers and other travelers as well."
The former military vessels will educate and provide divers and marine researchers with awe-inspiring historical attractions, while offering a focal point for the rejuvenation of underwater life in Cozumel. Based on other successful submersions, the new reefs are expected to be colonized by a wide range of marine invertebrates and fish, leading to a significant expansion in fish stocks, and will additionally encourage the growth of native corals and further development of species diversity
The wide variety of natural reef diving offered by Cozumel cannot be found in any other destination in the Western hemisphere. Accordingly, Cozumel reefs are protected as part of the Cozumel National Reefs Marine Park, and diving in Cozumel is ruled by the most discriminating international dive/eco-standards.
"The new dives sites will serve as a valuable contribution to our island's resources," concludes Marrufo. "Through eco-tourism efforts such as these, future generations of visitors will be able to experience the same wonders of Cozumel, both above and beneath the sea."
The island of Cozumel named "The Land of the Swallows" by the Maya who inhabited it more than 2,000 years ago, is located in the state of Quintana Roo, east of the Yucatan Peninsula. Situated along the world's second-largest reef network and home to the famed Palancar Reef, discovered by Jacques Cousteau in 1962, Cozumel boasts a first-class international dive and snorkel reputation. Cozumel has also established itself as a prime golf, honeymoon and family vacation destination. In a Money magazine survey, Cozumel was recognized as a top vacation destination, noted for its diversity, offering something for every traveler, and great vacation value. Visit Cozumel on the World Wide Web at www.islacozumel.com.mx.