Due to excessive tourism

Just half an hour from Chetumal, the Bacalar Lagoon is considered an emerging national destination, driven largely by the excess of sargassum in the Mexican Caribbean and the tourist developments that are increasingly expanding from the extreme north of Quintana Roo, to the border with Belize.

The increase in its popularity as an alternative destination in the southeast of Mexico thanks to its unique lagoon and its strategic location on the way to Chetumal, have caused in less than five years that the number of travelers has increased exponentially.

This boom in tourist activity, as well as the agricultural waste from the region that is dumped in the Bacalar Lagoon, are the main causes of the destruction of this ecosystem, the largest bacterial reef in the world.

Luisa Falcón Álvarez, Master of Science at the UNAM Institute of Ecology and founder of the Laboratory of Bacterial Ecology, has spent more than a decade studying the health of the microbial communities of the Laguna de Bacalar, the largest freshwater body on the peninsula from Yucatan.

The results of his team’s investigations show that the diversity of bacterial communities that give life to this ecosystem and maintain its balance are disappearing and with them, the colors of the lagoon:

“It is a treasure of the planet that we have not known how to care for; messy tourism and lack of wastewater treatment are wiping out the world’s largest freshwater bacterial reef, “he said in a statement.

The interior of the Bacalar Lagoon is also one of the few homes in the world for stromatolites, organic structures formed by bacterial populations (especially cyanobacteria), an authentic living natural relic that represents the oldest evidence of life on Earth.

Stromatolites were also responsible for oxygenating the atmosphere at least 3.5 billion years ago. However, all this natural heritage is at risk of disappearing due to uncontrolled human activity in the region.

“When we started working, the Pirate Channel had microbialite reefs and mangrove swamps, now it is just a sediment bar; the boats that arrive and the movement of the people have ended this site by causing its erosion, ”said Falcón Álvarez.