In the language of the Mayan peoples who once inhabited this region, Sian Ka’an means ‘Origin of the Sky’. Located on the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula, this biosphere reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, as well as a large marine section intersected by a barrier reef.
There are an estimated 1,200 plant species found in Sian Ka’an.
As regards the Sian Ka’an fauna, a total of 103 species of mammal has been recorded including five species of cat – jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay and jaguarondi. Other mammals include Central American tapir, Caribbean manatee, spider monkey, howler monkey, kinkajou, white-tailed deer, red brocket, white-lipped peccary, paca, tayra and collared anteater. Some 339 bird species have also been recorded, with about two-thirds breeding inside the reserve. Due to the great diversity of aquatic habitats, marine and wading birds are well represented. There are 16 raptor species, as well as frigate bird, cormorant, roseate spoonbill, greater flamingo and jabirus; and 42 species of amphibian and reptile have been recorded. These include four of the six turtle species found along the Mexican coast; green, hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback. Morelet’s crocodile and American crocodile also occur. Fish are abundant, and over 52 species have been recorded. A total of 550 terrestrial and 843 aquatic invertebrate species have been observed.
There are 23 Mayan sites in the reserve, while the Chunyaxché ruins, Vigia Del Lago and Xamach, are just to the north. Recently, a 24 km Mayan artificial canal was discovered. The reserve is located in the least-developed part of Quintana Roo, and the population is predominantly of Mayan origin, in whose language Sian Ka’an means ‘Origin of the Sky’.
music by ENRIQUE DEL CARMEN