|Marine life is clearly
visible beneath the crystalline waters surrounding Isla Contoy. A few feet from the island, the reef is home to a multitude of fabulous species, such as the spiny lobster,
grudge, snail and sardine. In Imaxpoit bay, beside the small wooden dock where the tourist
boats dock, the manta rays glide fearlessly among swimmers.
From April to October, four species of turtles, which are currently in danger of extinction (loggerhead
Caretta Caretta, Green Chelonia Mydas, Hawksbill
Eretmochelys Imbricata and Leatherback Dermochelys
c.), find, on the beaches of Isla Contoy, a safe haven for nesting.
The Reserve of Isla Contoy is a sanctuary
to many tropical marine birds, approximately 152 species have
been counted. Half of the species are residents of the island and
the others are migratory species from the north. One of the largest populations of pelicans coffees (Pelecanus occidentalis)
in the Caribbean can be found on the island. There are over 5 thousand frigates (Fregata
magnifiscens) that nest and reproduce on Isla Contoy and approximately 3
thousand double crested cormoranes (Phalacrocorax auritus).
The Brown pelican has a wingspan of about 90 inches. With its huge bill and deep pouch, the pelican appears as if it must be clumsy, but its short sudden dive is effective as well as dramatic. It builds a stick nest overlooking the ocean, and lays two or three eggs at a time.
Frigate birds are also known as "man o'
war" and all species are exceptional flyers. Their wing span of nearly three meters (90 inches) and their overall length (about a meter) is countered by their light weight, and their forked tail aids in their ability to change direction rapidly and navigate with ease to extremely high altitudes. This skill in flight allows then to pluck small fish from the surface of the water, dipping only the bill into the sea or even preying on flying fish in their mid-flight. Frigate birds can neither walk nor swim. They spend their time either in the air or perched on a limb of the mangrove bushes where they build their nests.
The male frigate bird has a bright red gular sac at the throat that they are able to
inflate to attract the attention of potential mates. The males perch in bushes or sit on the rocky ground, their throat sacs swollen; when a female flies over-head (distinguishable to the males by the white breast feathers), the males set up a cacophony of ululation and shake their wings, displaying their gular sacs to attract maximum attention.
Once a female is attracted, the pair builds a rough nest in shrubs or low trees, and a single egg is laid and incubated for about two months.
The small cormorants are able
to dive to depths of 25 meters to obtain its food and must soak its plumage to
submerge. Their most characteristic behavior is spreading their wings and standing still for minutes, even hours, until their feathers dry.
Contoy is considered the most important nesting place of sea birds in the Mexican
Caribbean and provides a safe haven for the marine life and
birds that live and migrate to the island yearly, thanks to the
conservation of the resources and ecosystem.