Journey to the Sian Ka'an

September 28, 2017

If you were to jump in your car and drive south from Corpus Christi, cross the Mexican border, and wind your way down the eastern coast of Mexico for nearly 1500 miles, you’d eventually find yourself in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve, located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo about two hours south of Cancun. This land, stretching over 780,000 acres, is exceptionally rich in both biodiversity and culture, boasting several Mayan ruins, underground rivers called cenotes, a coral reef, and a lush jungle where hundreds of species flourish.

Venture through the Sian Ka’an, and you’re sure to encounter incredible wildlife at every turn.  Vibrant tropical birds roost in the jungle canopy, filling the air with their exotic calls. Flamingos pose in nearby lagoons, crocodiles lurk at the surface of the water, and sloths slowly make their way from branch to branch. Strap on a scuba mask and dive below the ocean and a whole new world reveals itself in Sian Ka’an’s colorful coral reefs, which make up a part of the second-largest barrier reef in the world.

It’d be a thrilling adventure to visit the Sian Ka’an, no doubt, but in reality, that kind of trek is out of the reach of most people. Lucky for you, you’ll soon be able to experience much of what the Sian Ka’an has to offer, and all without having to get wet, suffer a single mosquito bite, or leave the country. Caribbean Journey, opening in May 2017, will give everyone a glimpse into the amazing wonders and willdife awaiting in the jungles and seas of the Sian Ka’an from right here in Corpus Christi.

Caribbean Journey just may make you believe you’re actually 1500 miles away in the real-life Sian Ka’an, but during your visit, we hope you also remember the actual bioreserve and the reality of the conservation challenges it faces. While Sian Ka’an was established as a reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1980s, this fragile ecosystem still needs our protection and attention to this day. As a major tourist destination from nearby Cancun, developers are anxious to build on that property, and conservationists are struggling to keep housing, resorts, and other construction projects away from the reserve. Locals and eco-tourist groups must also contend with a steady flood of visitors and ensure they don’t disturb the habitat or the wildlife that live in it.  Like most coral reefs around the world, Sian Ka’an reefs are also increasingly threatened by climate change and coral bleaching.

 

While Caribbean Journey is a realistic representation of Sian Ka’an, we don’t want it to one day be the only proof that this incredible reserve ever existed. We hope that by seeing a representation of the Sian Ka’an, you’re inspired to help care for this land and help us fight for its protection. As you walk through Caribbean Journey, you’ll learn about the important conservation and research work being done in the Caribbean region and will have opportunities to make a direct contribution to support these efforts. Ultimately we want you to leave Caribbean Journey not only in awe at your experience but with a greater appreciation of our seas and the need to preserve them for future generations.

In addition to introducing our guests to Sian Ka’an’s wonders and the need to preserve them, we’ll also be expanding our conservation mission to impact research and environmental efforts in the Caribbean. One of the Aquarium’s early objectives is to expand its Wildlife Care, Conservation, and Research Fund to support scientists in the Yucatan region of Mexico. A portion of every guest’s admission will also go into the Aquarium’s conservation efforts, so by visiting Caribbean Journey, you’re not only getting a day of exciting animal encounters, you’re helping to make a difference, both in the Caribbean and right here in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prepare to experience the sights and sounds of the Si’an Kaan, right here in South Texas, when Caribbean Journey opens this May.

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