Yucatan from its finest
Yucatan, Mexico 2018
We love Mexico so much, and after this trip we love it even more. I had been with groups to Yucatan before, but at different times. That is the amazing thing about Mexico, it offers such different animal interactions throughout the season. In the summer season we have the opportunity to snorkel with whalesharks and manta rays, dive with manatees – and face the American Crocodile
And we started this trip with the most extreme. Snorkeling with “Salties”, short for saltwater crocodiles in Chinchorro Banks, an offshore reef close to Xcalak, at the south tip of Yucatan.
What happens is the crocs are pretty slow going in the heat of the day and are open for a snack provided by XTC croc handlers. In the morning we hunt lionfish in the surrounding reefs – this introduced species is a menace to the reefs of the entire carribean. These fish are tied on lines and thrown in the water in front of the crocs. Ambush predators that they are, they sit mostly full still at the shallow lagoon floor, waiting for an opportunity to actually get the lionfish. In that ambush time they don’t even seem to notice our presence, allowing us to observe, video and photograph these 3m large dinosaurs. It’s bizarre, but after a bit in the water with them, we got pretty confortable being at arms length of closer to rows of sharp teeth.
Xcalak also has some very interesting dives to be had, so that’s our next stop. The reefs are kind of boring, but there are two big highlights. Manatees swimming in blue water, seemingly taking a break from feeding in the shallow waters between the reef and the beaches. Rather than seeing them munch away on seagrass we can see them swimming – and they look surprisingly graceful. Its now much more understandable how the imagination of sailors got sparked into believing that these creatures where mermaids.