I have already spent 3 of my 8 weeks in Pez Maya. Within this time I’ve studied fish identification and fish sizing under and “over” the sea and will soon start monitoring fish on the reef. With the volunteer program of GVI I also had the rare opportunity to help with the turtle project. We went out in the night to monitor nesting turtles on a nearby beach. Within one night we saw four Green Turtles building their nests and laying eggs – an experience that will always be a special memory. We also cleaned nests to keep track of already hatched baby turtles. Seeing about 100 tiny turtles trying to make their way into the greatness of the ocean was just amazing.
Once a week GVI also visits Punta Allen, a small town of fisherman, to teach English to the locals. The children of the kindergarten always look forward to practise and play with the volunteers. It’s great to see how fast they make progress in learning the English words for colours, numbers and verbs. The older group of 6 to 9 year olds already know animals and the English alphabet. In the afternoon we also helped teaching essential vocabulary to the local fisherman, tourist guides and gastronomes. They are very keen to improve their skills because it contributes to their economic future.
GVI also corporates with WWF to improve standards in whaleshark tourism since the Yucatan peninsula is very popular for conducting tours to swim and snorkel with whalesharks. A group of volunteers went to Playa del Carmen to make whaleshark tourists in different dive shops aware of appropriate behaviour when swimming with the biggest fish in the ocean. We handed out wristbands, stickers and information slates for the dive shops. Many people were interested in getting to know more about whalesharks and their behaviour, which is great to see!
The work of GVI – especially the work with the community – is very important to ensure future stability of the nature, but also to give locals an opportunity to use their knowledge about ecosystems to support local sustainability.