Holbox Island is a slender bit of land off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, where nutrient-rich currents from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean merge. Flamingos, pelicans, frigatebirds, least terns, and many other birds frequent the lagoon between the island and the mainland. Manatees, sea turtles (leatherback, green, hawksbill, and loggerhead), rays, and dolphins roam the waters. Several species of mangroves line the shore. The area is part of the 380,000-acre Yum Blam Reserve, which is a Ramsar wetland of international significance. The island has about 3,000 residents, but no cars; its beaches and streets are all white sand.
Because the island is one of the few places to snorkel with whale sharks, tourists are flocking there. As a result, pollution from solid waste and sewage has become a problem. For example, there are no sanitary facilities at the solid waste facility, so the workers there must use the fields. This creates a health hazard for people and wildlife.
A Seacology grant will fund, through our nonprofit partner, Casa Wayuu, bathrooms and a solar-powered waste treatment system at the facility. Rainwater will be collected, filtered, and stored for use in the lavatories. Treated water will be used in replanting a deforested area nearby with native species, including Geiger tree, thatch chit, kuka palm, sea grape, spider lily, and cocoplum.