X'cacel: An Endangered Sea Turtle Nesting site in Mexico

What is X'cacel?

X'cacel is a 2.6 km-long beach strip in the Yucatan peninsula, at approximately 100 km south of Cancun, Mexico. This beach is known as having one of the highest density ratios of sea turtle nests per kilometer of beach.  Scientific DNA studies on loggerhead and green sea turtles nesting in Xcacel have shown that it has one of the most genetically diverse population of sea turtles in the world.

In the late 1980s, the Cancun-based Mayab Ecology Group began to lobby the Mexican government to name X'cacel a wildlife preserve. In 1994, this group submitted to the government a proposal to protect the site, a proposal that was dismissed in 1998. Shortly thereafter, in a surprising move, the state governor office sold the land to resort developers. This sale was challenged by ecologist groups from around the world. As a result, the back-then governor of Quintana Roo, Mario Villanueva, pronounced X'cacel a protected zone under the name "Santuario de la Tortuga Marina X'cacel." This gesture however turned out to be ineffective, since it only provided protection for the first 100 meters from the sea shore (an area that is very unlikely to be developed anyway).

In April 2001, after years of intense national and international pressure by NGOs, the environment ministry of the Mexican federal government finally declared that all resort developments in X'cacel should be suspended.

Further  information can be found in the links below.
 

Ecological groups

Pronouncements and studies by the Developers

Academic publications & pronouncements

Govermental pronouncements

  • Written reply from the INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE ECOLOGÍA to the letter sent by the "Science in X'cacel" group. [Spanish] April 8, 1999. (download as a MS-Word 95 document, 24kb)  SEE!
  • Xcacel-Xcacelito: Projecto de Desarrollo Turistico Sustentable - Resumen Ejecutivo. Resumen del estudio preparado por Eco Red S.A. de C.V. para SEMARNAP (fuente no confirmada). [Spanish] Portada, pp.2-3, pp.4-5, pp.6-7, pp.8-9, pp.10-11, pp.12-13, pp.14-15, p.16 SEE!
  • X'cacel in the News

    ... according to Independent sources
  • Mexico's Green Dream: No More Cancuns. Tim Weiner, The New York Times, International Section, January 12, 2001.
  • La polemica sobre Xcacel. Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, December 1, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Posponen la construccion del proyecto turistico de Xcacel. Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, November 30, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Xcacel: Un negro broche ambiental. Ivan Restrepo, La Jornada, Mexico, November 27, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Vendidas, las ultimas playas virgenes de Quintana Roo. Noami Adelso, La Jornada, Mexico, November 26, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Xcacel-Xcacelito: Xcacel-Xcacelito fue vendido por la paraestatal Fideicomiso Caleta Xel-ha y del Caribe (Fidecaribe) a cinco dolares el metro cuadrado en 1997 durante la administracion de Mario Villanueva, segun sostiene Greenpeace. Sergio Caballero, Reforma, Mexico, November 18, 2000. [Spanish]
  • El alcalde de Solidaridad mantiene su postura sobre Xcacel: "aun no se dice la ultima palabra". Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, November 14, 2000. [Spanish]
  • El PRD convoca a conformar un frente comun en el caso Xcacel. Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, November 14, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Aprueban complejo en Xcacel-Xcacelito. Oscar Baez, Reforma, Mexico, November 11, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Aprueban el proyecto turistico Xcacel-Xcacelito. Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, November 11, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Cientos de personas protestaron pacificamente contra el polemico proyecto turistico de Xcacel. Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, October 23, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Protestan contra desarrollo turistico: El municipio de Solidaridad no otorgara ningun permiso para su construccion por ser santuario de la tortuga marina. Carla Guerrero, Reforma, Mexico, October 15, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Solicitan diputados reabrir los archivos de la venta de Xcacel. Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, October 14, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Se deben impedir acuerdos "bajo la mesa" en el caso de Xcacel: advierte una diputada del PRD. Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, October 14, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Se defienden ambientalistas: "no nos oponemos al desarrollo del Estado, sino a la devastacion". Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, August 25, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Amenazan a santuario de tortuga marina: Organismo no gubernamental dio a conocer algunos de los criterios ecolsgicos que la MIA infringe. Reforma, Mexico, August 16, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Ambientalistas dicen que el proyecto de Xcacel "es bueno", pero debe construirse en otra zona, Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, Quintana Roo section, July, 18, 2000. [Spanish]
  • El plan de manejo de Xcacel considera varias restricciones para la actividad turistica, Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, Quintana Roo section, May 9, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Conservar el campamento tortuguero, condicion para construir el proyecto turmstico de Xcacel, Diario de Yucatan, Mexico, Quintana Roo section, May 8, 2000. [Spanish]
  • Developers Menace Mexican Wildlife, Mary Louise Whitlow, The Animals' Agenda Magazine, November 14, 1999. [English]
  • Civilization's crawl intrudes on Mexico turtle nesting grounds, Tracey Eaton, The Dallas Morning News, October 8, 1999. [English]
  • La Jornada Ecológica, La Jornada, Carmen Lira Saade (Director General) & Ivan Restrepo (Director), September 27, 1999. [Spanish]
  • Urge que X'cacel sea declarada como reserva natural protegida. Francisca Arrieta-Acevedo, El Financiero, June 4, 1999. [Spanish]
  • "Tomarán" Xcacel a fines de este mes grupos ecologistas. Diario de Yucatan, April 23, 1999. Local Section, page 14 [original source]
  • Greenpeace denuncia a Villanueva Madrid.La Jornada. Appeared in the Diario de Yucatan, April 16, 1999. National-International Section, page 1 [original source]
  • Las quejas de Greenpeace serán atendidas -dice Joaquín Hendricks.  Diario de Yucatan, April 17, 1999.
  • A New assault on sea turtles. Michael Christie, Reuters News Agency. Appeared in the Toronto Star, November 28, 1998. [original source]SEE!
  • Xcacel Journal: Voice of the Turtles Opposes a Hotel Development. Sam Dillon, The New York Times, November 16, 1998. [original source]SEE!
  • Development Threatens Turtles. Reuters, ABC News, November 10, 1998.SEE!
  • Can Hotels Coexist With Sea Turtles...And With Fierce Environmentalists?. Elisabeth Malkin, Harry Maurer (Ed.), International Spotlight on Mexico, Business Week (International Edition), September 28, 1998.
  • La depredación de áreas naturales evidencia que la protección ambiental en México es de papel: Greenpeace. Antonio Callejo and Martín Morita, Proceso, No. 1132, Mexico City, July 12, 1998.
  • Exige Greenpeace que Salga de X'cacel el Grupo Hotelero Meliá. Ethel Riquelme Fernandez, Excelsior, Mexico City, June 23, 1998.
  • X'cacel: Paraiso Amenazado en Quintana Roo. Blanche Petrich, La Jornada, Mexico City, April 25, 1998. [in English]SEE!
  • Cortina de humo del gobierno de QRoo en torno de la venta de la Riviera Maya. Blanche Petrich, La Jornada, Mexico City, April 24, 1998. [in English]
  • Gobierno de Quintana Roo decreta a las playas de X'cacel y X'cacelito área protegida para tortugas. Fátima Vázquez, La Cronica de Hoy, February 21, 1998.
  • ... according to Ecological sources
  • Corporate Corner: Turtles, no turists!. EarthNet Newsletter, A. Lesser (Ed.), Center for Environmental Citizenship, July 1, 1999. [English]
  • Ecological groups take over X'cacel on Children's day. Grupo Environmentalista del Mayab (GEMA), May 2, 1999. [English & Spanish]
  • Mexican university group acts to save X'cacel nesting beach. "Science in X'cacel", December 12, 1998. [show your support! sign-on to the letter]SEE!
  • Sea Turtles: Casualty of Development. Susan Ferriss, Cox News Service, The News, Mexico City, July 1, 1998.
  • Greenpeace protests sale of X'cacel. Greenpeace Mexico, June 22, 1998.
  • X'cacel. Mary Louise Whitlow, May 29, 1998.
  • Quintana Roo Ecological Study. Mary Louise Whitlow, April 22, 1998.
  • Greenpeace denounces, Spanish Hotel Sol-Melia destroys threatened species in X'cacel Quintana Roo. Juan Carlos Cantu, Greenpeace, Mexico, October 1998.
  • El Reporte de Greenpeace sobre las Ecosistemas en Litorales del Golfo de Mexico y Mar Caribe. Acción Ambiental, Asociación para el desarrollo sustentable en el trópico húmedo, AC, No Date.
  • Other Resources

  • The Fight to save X'cacel, Mexico
  • Rachel D. Harvey's Home Page

  • Last Modified on January, 2001
    Maintained by: Mail to:Roberto Flores.