Sian Ka'an

Situated on the Caribbean coast in the southeast of the country, on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula in the State of Quintana, the reserve lies on a partially emerged coastal limestone plain, and includes part of the extensive barrier reef system..

It is covered by medium altitude semi-evergreen forests, medium and low altitude semi-deciduous forest; palm savannah formations, freshwater and saltwater marshes, petenes (or hammocks), mangroves and, dunes. A total of 4,000 plant and 28 mammal species have been recorded, including five species of cat, jaguar, puma, Central American tapir and Caribbean manatee.

Due to the great diversity of aquatic habitats, marine and wading birds are well represented. Twenty-three Mayan sites have been recorded in the reserve, while Tulum, one of the most visited Mexican archaeological sites, the Chunyaxché ruins, Vigia del Lago and Xamach, are just to the north.

Declaration date: 1986
Surface area: 528,148 ha
Administrative division: Municipalities of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Othón P. Blanco, State of Quintana Roo.

Human Activities

Fishing and nautical sports tourism.

Ecological Characteristics

In Mayan, Sian Ka’an means “The sky’s birthplace.”

The Biosphere Reserve is located in the most recent strip of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has a 120 coral reef barrier, an area of sea grasses, seasonal creeks, mangroves, coastal lagoons, swamps, fresh-water savannahs, inland lakes and seasonally flooded forests.

It contains close on 150,000 ha of protected deciduous and sub-evergreen forests. The flora is very similar to that of the region of the Gulf of Mexico and the Antilles, with 1,048 species including algae, mosses, ferns and higher plants. Fauna inventories show 103 species of mammals, 339 species of birds with 219 of them residents and 120 migrant or temporary species, 90 species of native bees, 47 species of dragonflies, 74 of beetles, 310 species of dipterans and 318 species of daytime butterflies.

Among the marine invertebrates, mention should be made of the 84 species of coral and the 276 species of crustaceans. Recently new species of soil fauna have been described which have been named after the Biosphere Reserve. It appears to be the location in Mexico with the most similarity to the Antilles. It is a nesting area for turtles, sea and marshland birds, and is notorious for its special life developing in underground, flooded galleries.


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                                                                                             Last update: July 2012

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