Mexican environmental authorities say they will temporarily close a popular beach off the Pacific state of Nayarit because of damage from too many tourists.
The National Commission of Protected Natural Areas said in a statement Thursday that during the two-week Easter vacation season more than 27,000 people visited tiny “Love Beach” in the Marietas Islands National Park.
The unusual beach is a small crescent of sand at the bottom of a hole in the island that has become an Internet sensation. It is accessible only by swimming in through a tunnel.
[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]Why is the Marietas Islands closing?[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]
The commission says boats ferrying tourists to the island have damaged delicate coral with fuel and anchors. The beach will close May 9 so officials can work on restoration and develop a system for limiting visitors. There is no dates set to reopen the beach to tourists.
The announcement comes just days after the Riviera Nayarit tourism department distributed a press release announcing successful efforts to protect the area during the Easter holiday.
For years the government detonated explosives on the Marietas, far away from human contact, until a movement led by Jacques Cousteau encouraged the navy to cease their testing in order to protect the surrounding reefs and delicate breeding grounds of the migrating humpback whales.
[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]Mystery of the Marieta Islands[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]
“Tests measuring cosmogenic nuclides can determine exactly how the hidden beach was formed, but regardless of whether or not it began with erosion or a bomb, it’s nonetheless a perplexing geological oddity,” a researcher stated last year, who likens the rocky terrain to a cherry bon bon.
“Erosion always proceeds from the top down, so the interior of the island, before it was hollowed out, was likely made up of what we call ‘explosive’ rocks—fragments belched up by volcanic activity. These stones erode more quickly, while the island’s thick exterior shell is made of a substance that is less susceptible to decay.”
According to initial assessments in 2014, a few thousand years remain before erosion eats away at the delicate structure, turning the hidden beach into a crescent-moon cove.
“We are more concerned, however, of the impact that excessive visits might cause to the eco-system,” says Marc Murphy, the managing director of Riviera Nayarit’s convention and visitor’s bureau, who has witnessed a massive spike in tourism to the Marietas after a photo of the hidden Eden went viral approximately two years ago.
“Excessive tourism could lead to a more rapid destruction of this sanctuary.”