Arrecife Alacranes (Alacran reef) is the largest reef in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and the most northerly in location (22º 23'N, 89° 40'W). It consists of five vegetated islands, some with significant seabird nesting colonies. rans-Gulf migrating birds use Alacran Reef as a resting stopover. Arrecife Alacranes was designated a National Park on 6 June 1994 by the Mexican Government.
Our objectives are to list all bird species observed in the islands and adjacent reefs over a one-year period, to census the nesting sea birds and monitor the nesting chronology, breeding effort and breeding success. This work will comprise an NSU OC graduate student's thesis research and result in publication(s) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. NSU FCAS undergraduate students will participate in the data analysis phase of the project, being involved primarily in counting nests and birds in photographs taken during field surveys.
We will also develop an educational campaign focusing on those charged with protecting Arrecife Alacranes, such as Park staff; those visiting Arrecife Alacranes, such as tourists; and those utilizing its natural resources, such as fishermen. The goal is to reduce human disturbance of Arrecife Alacranes, and to build human and institutional capacity for continued protection of this important seabird breeding and migratory habitat. We will also train those conducting ecotourism and biodiversity tours to Arrecife Alacranes in appropriate behaviors, including rubbish removal, reduction in disturbance, and appropriate sanitary practices.
One of us (EOK) visited Merida and Yucalpeten, the nearest embarcation point to Alacran Reef, in February 2008 and established contacts with the IX Naval Zone of the Mexican Navy and the Alacran Reef National Park (ARNP). These agencies will facilitate transportation to Alacran Reef.