In the Bacalar lagoon, there exist structures similar to coral reefs known as “stromatolites”. These natural treasures are composed of rock produced by millions of bacteria which have formed over millions of years. They are considered to be the earliest signs of life on Earth.
In Mexico, they can only be found in the Cuatrociénagas Reserve in the state of Coahuila, and in Bacalar, located in the state of Quintana Roo.
Bacalar, is one of Mexico’s “magical town” and is located in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco in the southern end Quintana Roo. It is known for the Bacalar Lagoon, also known as the “Lagoon of Seven Colors ” due to the water’s different tones of blue.
This lagoon is part of the system known as “The Rapids.” It is about 55 kilometers long, and communicates with the Bay of Chetumal across the Hondo River and the Chaac Estuary.
The stromatolites are a tourist attraction in Bacalar, and each year thousands of people attend the Cocalitos public beach to admire them. This year, however, due to their delicate condition, the Harbor Master decided to prohibit access of ships to the area where these formations are located.
According to a report presented by specialists from the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to the authorities of Othón P. Blanco and Bacalar, the stromatolites’ deterioration are a threat to the environmental health of the lagoon, as they have a similar function that reefs do. They are also major providers of the oxygen in the atmosphere.
Damage is reflected in certain parts of the lagoon, which has led to the creation of a committee made up of affected municipal governments. The committee has reached a series of agreements to preserve these structures.
Currently there is only a small number of places where you can find these formations. Among them “Shark Bay” in Australia; Andros Island (part of the Bahamas); and the Persian Gulf, where the oldest stromatolites are.
Other places include: the Red Sea; Salgada Lake in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; different regions of Chile; and San Juan de Marcona in Peru.