Translated by me from an article published in local newspaper POR ESTO! on 17 June 2010:
"During a dive with biologists and local community members, divers from Cozumel obtain impressive photographic and video footage of the damage to North Bank and the impact of the sand dredging there. The images show damaged coral, conch and oysters and prove that the sand pillaging reached down to the rocky substrate.
Back then, even President Felipe Calderón himself stated publicly that all ecological factors were being considered regarding the Cancún and Playa del Carmen beach reclamation project – using Cozumel as a material harvesting area – but the underwater footage tells a very different story.
The copy obtained by POR ESTO! of the video shot last week shows a devastated area, with huge holes, peppered here and there with the remains of corals and sponges wrenched from the sandy bottom. The whole area is covered with the crushed remains of shells and conch and the remaining coral heads are either dead or dying because of the sand film which covers them.
The biologists on the scene also attested to the destruction of the layer of microscopic algae and other living organisms – a cyanobacterial, algal and fungal biofilm - which the Giant Conch feeds on, and found only fragments of these animals’ shells on the sand bank that was one of the last sanctuaries for this endangered animal.
According to experts it will be 10 years before this biofilm recovers to its pre-dredging condition and is able to sustain a population of Giant Conch.
Local environmental group Citymar said after the dives that actions to mitigate environmental impact imposed by the dredging permit were never carried out, including the returning to the area of the live conch that should have been rescued and kept safe during the dredging operations, which ended last February.
“They simply took the sand and left the area; nobody from the federal authorities returned here to check what happened and if it weren’t for these Cozumel divers we wouldn’t have this body of evidence”, said Guadalupe Alvarez, the head of Citymar. She also said that the video will be posted on Youtube.com so that the whole world can see the damage caused to the island by repairs to beach erosion originated by consistently inadequate construction projects authorised by municipalities elsewhere. Destroying sand dunes and mangrove forest in the short term, these harmful development models lead to a loss of beach sand in the long run.
The video shows a desolate landscape and three meter deep holes in the extraction zone.
The dredging consortium always pledged to remove a layer no deeper than 50cm to one meter, but even this seems to have been disregarded."http://poresto.net/ver_nota.php?zona=qroo&idSeccion=2&idTitulo=25842
COZUMEL, 16 de junio.- Tras realizar una inmersión en compañía de biólogos y personalidades de la sociedad civil, buzos cozumeleños obtienen impactantes fotos y videos de los daños y la realidad de lo que fue el dragado de arena en el Banco Norte, en las imágenes se pueden ver corales, caracoles y ostras destruidos y se comprueba que el saqueo de la arena llegó hasta el lecho de laja.