In the beautiful town of Playa del Carmen, located in Quintana Roo, Mexico, a collaborative conservation project is underway focusing on an amazing aggregation of female bull sharks that come ashore between October and March. This unique phenomenon, in which many of the females are believed to be pregnant and/or in late gestation, has brought together the local community of service providers, fishermen, authorities, and society at large.
The main objective is to promote sustainable bull shark tourism and encourage active participation in the management of this marine megafauna population, using citizen science as a key tool.
Over the past five years, they have collected valuable information to better understand this aggregation of bull sharks. So far, some 50 individuals have been identified thanks to the work led by women who are part of the Organized Group of Service Providers. Now, together with researcher Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki, from CICESE’s Department of Biological Oceanography, they are working to analyze the information collected. Their work is focused on describing the dynamics of this aggregation, analyzing the pattern of the presence of each individual identified through a mark-recapture study protocol. In addition, they are working on the creation of a photo-identification catalog that will allow all visitors to the area, as well as the local community, to contribute data that will enrich the project.
One of the main objectives of this project, which we are supporting, is to promote sustainable tourism focused on the bull shark. Through education and awareness, it aims to involve both visitors and the local community in the conservation of this iconic species. The active participation of tourists and residents in data collection and responsible observation of bull sharks will increase awareness of the importance of their conservation and contribute to their long-term protection.
This year, to celebrate Oceans Day, we have partnered with Aguamala Brewery to raise funds and support this project. All funds raised through the sale of the beer “Cardumen: Cerveza con Causa” – soon available at their online shop and at different points of sale around the country- will go to the development of the photo-identification and citizen science project in Playa del Carmen, promoting the research and protection of the bull shark on the coast of southeastern Mexico.