The Galapagos of the Bay: The Marieta Islands
A natural landmark of Banderas Bay, the Marieta Islands are one of the most important places for marine bird watching in México and the eastern Pacific tropics, as well as being a shelter for countless varieties of marine species. This wildlife refuge is a protected natural zone, and its characteristics make it a unique place worthy of visiting and respecting.
Volcanic protected islands
History didn’t overlook the islands. It’s believed they were visited by pirates and used as whale hunting camps, but their main use stemmed from taking commercial advantage of the bird droppings deposited throughout the years, better known as guano, which is highly valuable as a fertilizer, and whose characteristic smell can be detected upon arrival.
After years of scientific research and an intensive effort to legally protect this archipelago, it was finally pronounced a national park, as “Parque Nacional Islas Marietas” in 2005. Spanning almost 1,400 hectares, this beautiful place is now preserved as a legacy for future generations.
An important world-class bird sanctuary
It is thought that these islands are home to the largest population in the world of the pájaro bobo café, a penguin species, sula Leucogaster, the latest census estimating them at more than 35,000 individuals. Along with those, you may also enjoy the beautiful blue-footed booby, who also nest in the Galapagos Islands. That is why one can “set foot” on the islands, but the stroll is limited to the enjoyment of the landscape and aquatic activities such as scuba diving.
Scuba diving to background music
Each island possesses its own characteristics, each island and each side having their own unique environment. This is why it’s worth hiring a company that offers various options, according to your own interests. It’s also good to know that according to the last scientific study of the islands, it was determined that these islands possess the greatest abundance of reef fish, home to 103 of the 159 registered species in the bay, as well as diverse species of coral.
And if this weren’t enough, during the winter divers have said they heard cow-like sounds, but these are nothing more than the song of the whales that use these islands as a natural refuge from predators and ocean currents.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit this unique environment. Take a morning to go out to “Alconte,” also known as Nuevo Corral del Risco or Punta Mita, where you will find a cooperative organization offering trips to the islands. You’ll be able to visit places such as la bufa (the blowhole), el elefante (the elephant), the morros cuates (the twin friends) and the most famous, playa del amor (lovers’ beach). Help us care for this natural sanctuary by always following the safety precautions, for your own safety and the safety of the wildlife that inhabit these islands.
*Oscar Aranda is a biologist dedicated to the conservation of our natural resources through environmental awareness and is also in charge of the program to protect sea turtles in Puerto Vallarta. If you desire additional information, visit www.vallartanature.org.