Behind the Coral Reef Aquarium at Xcaret
Made in Mexico, Made in Xcaret
Dive into an underwater world
Do you remember when you were a kid and you played to be an astronaut, to discover new worlds, seeing things you had never seen? Diving into the Deep Ocean and underwater world is something like traveling into space. Between corals and reefs, our mind is dazzled at finding a trail of colors and new organisms.
A whole new world opens its doors at the Xcaret Coral Reef Aquarium. Let your imagination fly and join us into this journey.
If you look at the details, you will see it, a great little universe that lives under the sea. Some brave souls have had the privilege of putting on a wet suit and diving into the depths of the ocean to discover a fascinating world of coral reefs and colorful fish. For many of us though, this privilege seems like a distant dream. That’s why the Xcaret Coral Reef Aquarium, which opened in 1995, gives us a window into the reefs, putting that dream in the eyes of many, we just have to let our imagination fly and transport ourselves into the deep sea.
Xcaret Aquarium features: Mangrove, lagoon reef, crest reef, shallow reef, and deep reef.
Today, the coral reef aquarium holds more than 5,000 organisms among which include the world’s largest collection of invertebrates. Generally, a reef is composed of algae, sponges, corals, fish, crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs, mollusks such as octopuses, clams and snails and echinoderms, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and starfish.
Tropical fish that can be seen in Xcaret: puffer fish, clown fish, surgeon fish, butterfly fish, sergeant fish, angelfish, parrotfish, boxfish, sole fish, trigger fish and mullet fish.
Other species that you have to look for: jellyfish Hay, soft and hard coral, sponges, starfish, urchins, cucumbers, seahorses and octopuses.
About 80% of the coral reefs in the aquarium come from the coral rescue program that are dislodged by storms or natural phenomenon, others come from breeding programs at Xcaret, partial transplant and natural recruitment. Once a year, Xcaret is allowed to collect a number of corals that are not endangered. This permission is granted by the federal government to socially responsible companies for research.
What makes the coral reef aquarium at Xcaret unique is not only its sample but the permanent pumping system that allows the free entry of seawater and with that free entry of plankton, larva sponge and natural nutrients that emulate the species natural environment at different depths. This allows us to transport our visitors to observe the underwater world at 5, 20 and 30 meters deep. The pipes are placed at 300 meters from the coast and 15 meters deep at angles designed to work through gravity, eliminating the use of additional energy to power the aquarium.
Preserving hundreds of years of life
The corals are formed by carbonated calcium which gives them their structure, reefs may be made out of corals, algae or fish. For each coral reef that disappears, hundreds of years of marine life are lost, causing a decrease in the diversity of marine fauna.
It is because of the importance of corals that in 2005, Xcaret began the asexual reproduction by fragmentation of Elkhorn coral, an endangered species. Thanks to the success of the program, a substantial amount of knowledge has been gathered on the survival and development of corals in aquariums.
From this work, a new project began in 2011 in conjunction with the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Sexual Coral Reproduction Foundation (SECORE) and Regional Center for Fisheries Research (CRIP). The four organizations began work on the sexual reproduction of the same species. Some of those corals bred in captivity have been transported into their natural environment to observe their development. The success of this program has developed substantial knowledge and experience in repopulating damaged areas in the future.