It started with an exhibition on Isla Contoy - nature reserve and tourist centre
Isla Contoy is at the eastern tip of the Yucatan, very close to the major tourist centres of the Mexican Caribbean coast. It is one of the Yucatan’s most valuable ornithological nature reserves. Due to the prevailing currents, the protected waters teem with fish and, so far, nearby reefs have shown little sign of coral death. Ever since 1961 the island has had protected status, and has more recently been designated a National Park. However, insufficient resources are available for research projects, education, monitoring or surveillance of the Park boundaries.
The island is also used for tourism, and local operators run daily tours to the island, bringing visitors from neighbouring Isla Mujeres and the tourist centre of Cancun. The boats land in a small bay with a short, narrow beach. Visitors are welcomed by the multilingual National Park guides and informed about the nature reserve and its role, the different bird species and other animals likely to be encountered during the trip.
As of May 2003, an exhibition conceived and presented by the association Amigos de Isla Contoy, with support from the Lighthouse Foundation and the European Union, has been open to the public in the Isla Contoy visitor centre. Large-scale interpretation boards and informative models are used to portray the diverse habitats and features of the National Park. In addition, the visitor centre’s viewing tower offers an imposing view – with or without binoculars – over the island, and after climbing its many steps, the pleasant coolness of the sea breeze at the top is very welcome.
Gradual changeover of energy supply from diesel generators to the use of solar and wind power. The provision of drinking water is met by treating rainwater and has been accompanied by the introduction of efficient waste water treatment facilities. Contoy has, thus, become a showcase for environmentally compatible technology.