One Of Natures Finests Jewels

In 1979 under decree of the Federal Government the area was declared as Fauna Refuge; in 1988 the criteria of environment protection was changed and was declared as Special Biosphere Reserve, covering 59,130 hectares (146,113 acre) and finally in 2000 it was declared as Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, covering an area of 81.482 hectares (243,629 acre).
The observations made in the 70's by experts who gave rise to the visionary decision to protect this and other areas of the Yucatan Peninsula has given as a result the conservation of many species through the years

Next data shows why the area is protected:


549 species exist in 100 families in the Reserve, 14 species are in some protection category distributed as following:

  • Endangered: 4 species.
  • Under threat: 7 species.
  • Rare: 3 species.


600 species exist in the Reserve: fish 140, amphibians 13, reptiles 64, mammals 79, birds 304. Of all these 115 species are in some protection category distributed as following:

  • Endangered: 18 especies.
  • Under threat:  37 especies.
  • Special protection: 12 especies.
  • Rare: 48 especies.
1149 species (flora and fauna) in an area of 81,482 hectares (243,629 acre) it's amazing, there is no doubt that the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve is one of natures finest jewels .

BIRDS: 528 species are registered in the whole country, the numer of bird species in the Yucatan  Peninsula and specialy in the Reserve it is surprising. So as we mentioned previously 304 species exist in the area, nevertheless 102 are migratory therefore a little less than half of species registered in the country inhabits in the Reserve.

THE RIA: Plays a very important role inside the Reserve; a hypersaline lagoon of low depth, feed by fresh water from subsoil and salt water of the Gulf surrounded with Mangrove Swamps, waters rich in nutriments which maintain a diversity and abundance of  larvae, juveniles of fish , crustaceans and other organisms of which feeds several other species and of course some of human consumption as the Ria Tiny Shrimp and Crab between others.

MANGROVE SWAMP: Is an arboreal specie that grows in the fresh and saline waters with height range between 15 and 20 meters (49 and 66 ft.), these are essential in the ecosystem, it contribute to the growth of micro-organisms. In the Reserve it covers big extensions.

PETENES: (Peten: word in Mayan language that means region, or islet (1)) In this case it is used to designate islets of arboreal vegetation. Petenes grows in lagoons of freshwater coming from the subsoil known as Cenotes; the center of the Petén is higher than in the peripheral areas, due to the accumulation of soil and decomposition of vegetable material.
The water flow plays a fundamental role due the nutrients contribution. Many Petenes are in the Reserve.

(See Note)

Next, images of mangroves, petenes and small example of the birds that are found in the Reserve


Note: All data, dates and numbers shown in this page were compiled from Programa de manejo reserva de la biosfera Ría Celestún (Ría Celestun
          biosphere reserve management program)
publication by Secretaría De Medio  Ambiente Y Recursos Naturales  (SEMARNAT) (Environment And
         Natural Resourses Ministery)  Federal Govermment.

(1) Diccionay Maya Codemex, maya-español; español-maya (1980) Alfredo Barrera Vásquez.