Heather Spence, Marine Biologist
Orchestrating Coastal Marine Ecology Investigation and Outreach

Heather Spence, Marine Biologist

Cancun Research

Cancun is a world renowned tourist destination, located on the MesoAmerican reef system – second largest coral reef in the world. The sustainability of Cancun and the reefs are in danger, and research and monitoring are urgently needed to inform and support conservation and management efforts.

Passive Acoustic Monitoring is needed for documenting and tracking trends in biodiversity and use of the protected areas, to inform management

Spiny Lobster Research is important for understanding the fishery and ecosystem role, as well as their acoustics

Identification of native species and protection against invasive species are fundamental for all education and conservation efforts

In order to coordinate these and other efforts, I am creating a SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH CENTER to draw together scientific and cultural projects, promoting Cancun as a natural wonder and model of sustainability for the world. The Center will bring together people internationally to explore solutions for maintaining the viability of coastal ecosystems, and develop sustainable residential and tourism strategies for the future.

Interested in this new approach to sustainability?  Contact Heather


Check out Cancun-related blog posts



Why Cancun?

Cancun = unique, natural, connected location

Uniquely situated at top of Mesomerican Reef, second largest coral reef in the world!

Unique nursery and breeding grounds for fish and other animals

Unique natural land and water features

Uniquely planned coastal tourism development

Uniquely internationally accessible

Uniquely internationally recognized

Cancun has unlimited value in the natural HOWEVER, Cancun has limited value in the man-made:

Cancun cannot compete with other locations in standard tourism amenities

because they will continually require more investment to change the natural to artificial

Cancun will never have the best ____ (high rise, golf course, amusement park, etc)

because the unique natural conditions limit Cancun’s ability to support these amenities

e.g. small and shifting land/dunes, fragile coral reefs, wetlands

What to do?

Promote Cancun as a natural wonder and model of sustainability for the world

Refocus from change to reliability, Add nostalgia to adventure

Quality not quantity

Advertise natural features

Organic food production

Sustainability Institute Sustainability Institute Sustainability Institute Sustainability Institute International Sustainability Institute International Sustainability Center Sustainability Center Sustainability Center


Photo credit: Nick Giacobbe

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