Feb 14, 2007, 4:24 PM
Post #17 of 28
SFmcaws, you seem to not understand the point. Perhaps, I did not articulate well enough. I will give it another try, this time with pictures.
Re: [sfmacaws] Are the Gulf coast beaches polluted?
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First, I have never seen fecal matter floating in the water around Uaymitun nor in many of the more remote areas along the gulf. I have seen human fecal matter in the water around Puerto Vallarta where Bubba pointed out. I have seen it in a lot of tourist areas. In Mazatlan last summer there was a huge rainfall in August where the streets were so flooded that Taxis could not run. I saw rats standing in window ledges, and all sorts of junk and oil slicks running into the ocean. THere was no way I was going to put my toe in the water there for the rest of that week!
Also, please, I am not advocating that Cancun is unsafe, just that I believe the coastal waters off Uaymitun along Yucatan's north shore is cleaner and safer for human contact than Cancun. Indeed, I believe both areas are safe.
First understand that if there is species diversity in the water and if certain indicator species with low tolerance to pollution are living there, while species known for pollution tolerance, such as many Marine worms, are not there in high abundance, the water quality will be well above the legal limits and safe limits for all human activities. This is well documented. If you have these conditions of species diversity with the right mix of species, the coliform count and chemical analysis of the water will prove to be good. I believe that a species diversity count is the most reliable. However, for a government agency that would take the longest time and be the most expensive.
I have it pretty well documented off of Uaymitun because I have spent hours snorkeling and kayaking and snorkeling there from shore to about 2-3 km out. I have eaten the fish and the lobsters and the octupi from here without ever getting sick. I have never gotten sick snorkeling. I know folks who have lived here since before hurricane Gilbert, who are constantly in the water, and who have never gotten sick. Thus, I think warnings about water activities here are ludicrous.
Now for the pictures to illustrate the point. I will post below some satellite photos, but I need to explain some things before you view them.
In Uaymitun, where my house is located, there is a single row of houses. Most of these are 2nd homes belonging to professionals living in Merida or Mexico City. Most of these houses are occupied only in July and August. I can go out on the beach in May and look a mile in each direction and see no one, as a general rule. In late July, there are people all over the place and many boats anchored off shore. Come late August, it is essentially a ghost town again. There are only a handful of houses that are occupied year round. If you cross the street from the beach houses, you have a a flamingo preserve and mangroves, then miles and miles and miles of forest before you have another human habitation. Progreso is 16 km to the west, but the prevailing current along the shore comes from the east. Telchac Puerto is the next town to the east. It is around 20-30 km to the east. The single row of beach houses that make up what is called Uaymitun (a Maya name... and the name of the coconut plantation that was originally there) gets sweet water from wells. It comes up fresh and clear from filtration through the limestone. This water has been tested chemically and for fecal coliform with pristine results. I would still not drink it. (I purchase bottled water everywhere in Mexico.). I do shower in it. BTW, it is rare to have fresh water under a beach house anywhere in North America!
The beach houses have primary sewage treatment by septic tank. Most have it pumped out regularly and hauled away. Why not pay a few dollars and have them haul it over to Cancun, right? Now a little bit of math is in order here. Even if we pumped our sewage into the sea which no one does here or would want to since every house is a beach house and the beach houses are here because we want to use this bit of ocean,, but for the sake of a mathematical argument, if it was raw sewage, you have the sewage of a few hundred people. That doesn't happen. I am just saying that when you look at a satellite map of Cancun with the thousands of people there, even with the best tertiary sewage treatment, the net mass of nutrients that would seep into the sea is huge compared to the small population of an area like Uaymitun. Our worst polluters are the shore birds, each one lacking of rectum which if present would produce a heavy mass impeding flight, release flows from their cloaca on a regular basis, and the abundant fish population that pees into the sea. There are no bars here with tourists. Thus there are no groups of tourists who when intoxicated would think nothing of relieving themselves in the ocean. There are no hotels and no restaurants here.
This area is much different than the cove of trapped water which Bubba complained about in the southern edge of Puerto Vallarta with its large population, poor sewage treatment, running rivers, and heavy rainfall. It is much different than the area around Progreso and Yucalpaten with its population of around 30,000, layers of houses, poor treatment facilities and a cut from the mangrove area entering the sea.
Now, to Cancun. Not all of Cancun is in the tourist zone. There is a large population of people who live here as workers for the tourist industry. Then there are thousands of tourists. Even with the best tertiary sewage treatment, whether desined by computers or monkeys, the net flow of nutrients will be huge compared to what we could produce here, even if we ate beans all day long. In addition, rain run-off will carry a lot of oil and other chemicals into the sea. Off Uaymitun, except during July and August, it is possible to eat lunch in the middle of the street without worrying about a car coming by.
The math says that Cancun will be more polluted than Uaymitun. Now check out the photos:
UAYMITUN CLOSE UP:
To those who make a blanket statement that you would not swim here, I say:
1. Thanks. Keep spreading the word so others won't move here.
2. You are missing out.
3. Be aware, you are spreading uninformed inaccurate nonsence.