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Manchones National Park.
Manchones reef is the start of the Mesoamerican reef system that travels all the way down to Honduras through Belize and Guatemala. Stretching for nearly 700 miles, this is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. This amazing reef system is the home to a dazzling array of coral and is home and food to abundant marine life that includes turtles, sharks and hundreds of fish species. This reef and the mangroves that grow along the shores provide habitat to both marine life and shorebirds and are hugely important in the protection of the coastal areas from strong storms and hurricanes
The national park is a 12-kilometer national park that offers much to the recreational diver of every level and beautiful areas for those interested in snorkeling.
There are many different parts of Manchones National Park.
Cross of the Bay
Cross of the Bay is a statue that is dedicated to Ramon Bravo and to fishermen who have lost their lives at sea. It is not uncommon to dive on this statue and see offerings left at the base of the statue for these reasons.
Ramon Bravo (21 Oct 1925- 21 Feb 1998) was a Mexican diver, photographer, and underwater filmmaker. Born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila. He was a famous Mexican swimmer that competed in the 1948 Summer Olympics. He soon became involved with diving and filmmaking and quickly gained fame in Europe and America. His fascination and dedication to sharks led to a large portion of his time and work to the filming and studying of these amazing animals. It was Ramon Bravo that is responsible for the discovery (through fisherman Carlos Garcia "Valve"), filming and studying of the “sleeping sharks” near Isla Mujeres in the 70s where tiger sharks were seen to be sleeping on the ocean floor. It was because of this discovery that Jacques Cousteau spent several weeks here studying this phenomenon with Ramon Bravo as his guide.
This unusual behavior is thought to be caused by underwater freshwater rivers from the Yucatan which the sharks would use to cleanse their bodies. Cousteau spent several weeks here studying the sharks and the migration of lobsters.
One of Bravos novels went on to become a film called Tintorera (1977) Which he did the underwater photography for. He also photographed and directed underwater scenes in the James Bond movie Licence to Kill.
Ramon Bravo is a very important persona of Isla Mujeres and has contributed so much to the study and understanding of our beautiful and fragile ecosystem and he has inspired many to embrace the career of marine biology, oceanography, scuba diving or underwater photography and many others to dedicate themselves to the preservation of our environment from other perspectives.
His work in defense of marine ecosystems led to the presentation of the Ramon Bravo Medal which is granted by the Government of Quintana Roo.
This beautiful reef in Isla Mujeres is divided into two areas
Which is an area that is widely spread and can be dived from many different parts before you can even hope to see and understand the whole reef. The bottom of this reef is 10meters/33feet and this is the deepest that it goes. The beautiful reef area has mounds that go up to 5 meters and abounds in marine life. This makes it perfect for both diving and snorkeling. The shallow depths allow the diver or snorkeler to appreciate the amazing colors and vibrant life in a way that you cannot find in deeper waters, while still having the possibility to spot the pelagic marine life that swims through.
Common sightings in this reef are the hawksbill turtle and southern stingrays. The reef also abounds in grunts and snappers, many angelfish, sergeant majors, and wrasse. Lobsters and eels can also be sighted hiding in amongst the outcroppings on the reef.
In Manchones 1 you also have the possibility of spotting another 2 statues of Jason De Caires Taylor.
The dream collector was installed on 14th November 2009. A collection of bottles, brought by the ocean, are collated by a male registrar and his dog. Each bottle contains messages from communities or individuals from around the world.
The man on fire was installed 14 November 2009 at a depth of 8mts. He is a cast of a local Mexican fisherman and has been drilled with over 75 holes on the circumference of the torso is seeded with rescued pieces of fire coral (Millepora Alicorni), which gains it its name from its obvious bright orange substance, but also because of its ability to inflict severe burns or stings to bare skin. The dominant species can repel many other types of marine growth and was installed using long nosed pliers and marine epoxy adhesive. It is predicted to cover the man`s entire body giving the appearance of flames with its pointed finger-like growth. He depicts human dependence on and the overuse of essential limited natural resources. He weighs around a tonne.
Manchones 2 runs parallel to Manchones 1 but the feel of the reef is completely different. This reef tends to be a large outcropping of the reef the run closer to the surface and tend to be more separate mounds that run closer to the surface and parallel to the island. Perfect for zigzagging between these areas and there are even a few beautiful swimthroughs. There are more chances of seeing turtles here and is also a favorite of the snorkelers.
Situated at the base of the Manchones 1 reef, this amazing part is surprisingly underdived and you can often dive here without seeing another diver. The reef splits off in two directions and you can happily kneel in the sandy area in the middle and comfortably complete any skills required for your courses or swim around a study the diverse marine life that exists hidden away in the reef.
Very close to this part of the reef is another statue called