The Effects of Hurricane Emily
Diverse and beautiful ecosystems converge on the coastal zone of the Riviera Maya: coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, beaches, lagoons and jungle. The richness of biodiversity is evident every time we go for a snorkel, trek through the jungle, or walk down the beach.
The violent winds and rains of a Category 4 hurricane, such as Emily, show us both the fragility and resilience of the natural systems that make this such a beautiful destination. Vegetation was ripped apart, turtle nests flooded out to sea, and the reef damaged as coral formations were broken and knocked over. Homes were destroyed and workplaces damaged.
Healthy reef, mangrove and jungle ecosystems are an effective buffer against tremendous storms, slowing them and protecting what lies inland. Unfortunately, most current development is located directly along the coast, receiving the same direct hit as the reef and mangroves.
As the affected communities work towards reconstruction, so does each element of the coastal habitats. The reef rebuilds itself, trees bud new leaves, mangroves sprout new shoots, and turtles nest again. We have an opportunity and responsibility to help nature renew itself, by protecting the reef, stopping destruction of our mangroves, reforesting our jungles and reestablishing our sandy beach dunes—all by putting into action the recognized “best practices” to defend nature from the destructive patterns of our own daily habits. By treating our beloved area as a living coastal zone, we can better understand what it takes to keep it healthy.