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Algae: A universal burden




DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME was on Sunday, March 9, in the U.S. but doesn’t occur in the Yucatan until Sunday, April 6, when we spring forward one hour. This puts us two hours behind the U.S. eastern time zone until April 6. Tune in for 6:30 Eastern Time news at 4:30 until then.
FOOD FEST participants sought by Colonos for March 30 event. Sign up at the Colonos office!! 
for families, friends. Click on Akumal Villas at left for a family vacation.
SALSA DANCE LESSONS, Wednesdays, 10 a.m., Latitude 20 Restaurants. All welcome. Have fun! Just 30 pesos per hour lesson.
IF THE RAINS leaked on your property, click on Definitive Solutions for help.
LIBRARY HOURS   Mon-Fri from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. More than 15,000 English and Spanish books to choose from.
ENTERTAINMENT NIGHTLY at Latitude 20 Restaurant
RESERVE NOW for summer car storage at Riviera Maya vehicle and boat storage. Click the logo at left.
REMEMBER Puerto Aventuras Catering for small house parties or large weddings
ALL THE POOL supplies you need. Click on WeRWater logo for list of products that work.
ITEMS FOR SALE– 26” woman’s bike, $50; hot/cold water dispenser, $150; safe, $75; TV stand, $100 all USD. Call Rick: 984-140-0470.

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Topic of conversation

Public expresses concerns as algae

flourishes in Centro’s natural  pools

But it’s just the early arrival of a cyclical event


By Staff
   After Rob Vanbiez arrived in Puerto Aventuras for a vacation a few weeks ago, he went for a walk with friends along the Centro dolphin pools. That’s when he saw the algae floating in the corner of one of the pools ironically situated just across from WeRWater, a water purification and pool maintenance outlet.  And that’s when he wondered why an algae curse was occurring in “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Don’t confuse Vanbiez’s sincere concern with idle criticism. He spent 40 years as the Superintendent of Aquatics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, assuring that water in the city’s pools and other aquatic resources remained clean. He knows water, and he knows that algae blooms, for whatever myriad reason, are a universal phenomena happening everywhere and anywhere.

Guillermo Lobo, or William Wolf in English, is the general manager of Dolphin Discovery, the company that operates the crowd-pleasing dolphin shows in those pools. As such, the purity and condition of the water is of the utmost importance for the health of the workers, the dolphins, the tourists who swim with them and ultimately the success of the business.

No argument here
  While Mr. Vanbiez said he thought the blooms could be be the result of an excessive rainy season immediately followed by a rush of early tropical heat, a more common cause, he said, is “still water” – or water lacking the oxygen replenishment and cleansing effect of natural tidal movement. “As far as I know,” he said, “these dolphin pools lack tidal flow,” depriving the pools of natural flushing and oxygenation.

Sr. Lobo, who said he appreciates the public’s concern, notes that Mr. Vanbiez’s  observations are not without merit. But he does make it clear that there is tidal flow from several underground (cenote) fresh-water rivers and tidal movement coming in from the salty sea along the marina canals and into the pools. Unfortunately, the confluence of fresh and salt water – brackish water – provides an ideal environmental element for algae formation, Lobo explained. The other required ingredient that accommodates algae propagation is warm water.

And that’s what happened this year, a period of brutal weather anomalies. While the northern part of the continent was gripped by record-breaking cold, storms, ice and snowfall, the water flowing into the pools here was warmer than usual, creating the ideal environment for algae formation that normally occurs only after most vacationers and snowbirds are gone. Residents who live along the dolphin walk attest to the annual appearance and disappearance of blooms.

Other public observations
   Andy and Cathy Miznuik, who have been staying here four months a year for the last five years, told the Pelican they’ve heard tales that the rivers running into the pools were blocked off when the overpass was built on 307. They also heard stories, they said, that the waste water purification system was dumping partially-treated waste into the bay near local beaches. He said algae–like weed has to be raked off the beach daily near his condo complex on Fatima Bay.

“We travel to many area beaches, and this is the only one with this problem,” Mr. Miznuik claims. There has been no official evidence presented to corroborate the hearsay. Nor was any weed congestion noticed along the beach during mid-morning tour last week.

      Theirs are not the only observations brought to the attention of the Pelican Free Press. Retailers, restaurateurs and some strollers have complained about intermittently foul odors emanating from the increasingly murky pools to the point, some say, that dolphins have been moved out of some pools where the algae is considerable. Yes, dolphins are temporarily re-assigned, but that’s only to allow work crews to remove the floating algae, Sr. Lobo explained. On the other hand, Pelican staff has observed algae formations in small cenotes along the golf course where water lilies flourished earlier in the season.

While Vanbiez said he hasn’t noticed the algae in other nearby bodies of water such as the canals, a long-time resident in a Centro unit above the pool who did not want to be identified, said she also has seen algae blooms along the bay shore during her daily walks.

John Schwandke, who also lives in a Centro unit, said: “I have been told that there are several points along the Centro Comercial side of the marina where underground rivers flow in and help create an outward flow toward the sea by way of the entrance canal. Two of those points are adjacent to what used to be

Tiramisu Restaurant and may have contributed to the sidewalk caving in at that point a couple of years ago.  You can actually look into a small cenote next to Massimo’s, and chances are there is an inflow there too.  It seems to me that I used to see evidence of inflow coming from under the sunken walkway near Café Ole, but I don’t see those ripples anymore.”

Tidal flow could be better

Commenting on the public observations on tidal flow, Sr. Lobo said the flow could be better and that it would probably help reduce the amount of algae generated every year. However, it would not eliminate what is essentially a natural phenomenon controlled by Mother nature, just as the snowfall and assorted storms pummeled northern neighbors with impunity this year.

He said the company currently has a crew working 15-hour days vacuuming the bottom of the pools and is awaiting arrival of a more powerful pump to both clean the pool bottoms faster and also skim the floating algae off the top. In addition, the company operates two waterfalls located on the island that help aerate the water to supplement the natural introduction of oxygen into that aquatic system from the rivers and sea, Sr. Lobo said.

The company is also putting an unwanted product to good use. A three-man crew – they can be spotted from the dolphin walk – consists of a scuba diver and two handlers.One of them works the pump and dive lines tethered to the diver who is equipped with a vacuum cleaner type instrument that vacuums algae from the pool bottom. The other handler aims a large hose ashore over a rectangular basket that lets the water through but captures the algae that is then spread as mulch on the island gardens.

Dolphins don’t lack oxygen   

   For the uninitiated concerned for the dolphins, we are reminded that unlike fish that extract oxygen from water through gills, dolphins breathe the same air humans do, above water, through a unique blowhole atop the head. In other words, and as far as dolphins are concerned, de-oxygenated water is not a threat to their ability to intake oxygen, albeit some algae blooms could be toxic and cause other negative physical issues to these playful mammals.   

For the record,  harmful algae blooms, or HABS, can stem from a natural occurrence of aquatic and or atmospheric dysfunction abetted by the run-off of human activity, that is, toxic chemicals and various harmful nutrients used or produced by cities and farms that find their way to water. The run-off feeds the lower plant life, or algae, which then multiplies and depletes an aquatic system of oxygen, the lack of which then kills off fish and higher forms of plant life. This creates a dead aquatic system. The dolphin pools are a long way off from dead, Sr. Lobo said. As in every year, the pools require maintenance that, due to Nature’s whim, is required earlier this year.

Beyond a chemical fix

Mr. Vanbiez opines the bloom in the dolphin pools is beyond a simple chemical fix. “The underwater mesh fences need to be steam-cleaned to improve tidal movement,” he said. The pools can be aerated by fountains, which is what the waterfalls do in the pools here, or mechanically aerated.

The local WeRWater Co., situated on the Dolphin Walk just above the pools, has donated a trial amount of a bio-degradation accelerator that treats wastewater and controls odor with a blend of naturally occurring bacteria and fungi. The Dolphin Discovery veterinarian will be testing its effectiveness in reducing the algae presence at a much quicker pace and potential side effects, if any, on the dolphins or the pool system.”  The Product, known as BDM-50, accelerates the breakdown of organic material such as algae. 

Given Sr. Lobo’s logical explanation and seeing the evidence of ongoing maintenance, Shakespeare might characterize the public concern as appreciated but, alas, much ado about nothing. Nonetheless, it leaves the ultimate question unanswered: Is it possible, affordable and practical to prevent the formation of natural dolphin-pool algae in the first place?


Get a living plant for a dead can,
bottle, cardboard or plastics

   The Colonos office reports that the Municipality of Solidaridad invites residents to participate in the municipal program “Kilo Verde” that will take place Saturday, March 15, at the municipal office located at the end of the Main Road in Puerto Aventuras village near the poblado park. The exchange begins at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In this program, you can trade solid material for regional plants. The solid material that you can exchange is glass bottles, plastic bottles, cans, cardboard, electrical appliance, paper and tetra pak. 


Meet Red Cross Dr. Branda Gutierrez;

you may require her skills some day


By Staff
   Dr. Branda Gutierrez is the new Red Cross doctor who has recently begun a one-year community service assignment at the Red Cross clinic and ambulance station on the Main Road in the Poblado, where the police station used to be prior to moving to larger quarters in Puerto Maya next door.

As the new resident medical professional, she is in charge of the Red Cross branch in the Poblado that services all residents of Greater Puerto Aventuras, including   those within the resort area. Dr. Gutierrez is married and splits her time living weekends in Cancun with her husband, a doctor there, and weekdays at the Red Cross clinic here.The clinic is covered 24/7 on weekends by interns from the central Red Cross station in Playa del Carmen.

After a month here, she said during an interview Monday, she is acclimating to the routine and enjoying meeting the people who she will service for the year. “The people here are very nice,” she said, “ and I don’t mean just the Mexicans.” Although she isn’t fluent in English, she is bi-lingual “un poco” and would like to take English lessons. “But it is expensive and I can’t afford it now,” she said. “Maybe when I get a real job,” she quipped with a smile.

Dr. Gutierrez graduated from the Instituto Polytecnico Nationale in Mexico City as a general practitioner and is considering several specialty areas to pursue following her community service. “I like to meet people. I try to understand their language and their culture and help patients from any country.” The clinic door is open to all, she said.

Below is some emergency ambulance information and basic Spanish interpretations resort residents might want to copy and post on their refrigerator, courtesy of Paamul Jack and others:


Cruz Roja (Red Cross) – 065

Cruz Roja will take the patient to whatever hospital you request, or to the nearest facility if the situation requires.

Hospiten – 984/ 806-4616   or   984/ 876-2250

These numbers connect to a private ambulance service which is under contract to Hospiten.  They will take the patient to Hospiten.

CostaMed  -  984/ 803-7777

This ambulance will take the patient to CostaMed.


Send an ambulance please
Por favor mande una ambulancia.
My name is
Mi nombre es……
My address is
Mi domicilio es …….
My phone number is…
Mi numero de telefono es….
I am very sick
Estoy muy enfermo
My wife/husband had a heart attack
Mi esposa tuvo un ataque cardiac
I am hurt
estoy herido!

(Suggestion: Place this by your phone. Click on Colonos logo at right for other emergency numbers.)


Jewelry store robbery by gang

thwarted on Playa’s 5th Avenue

By Staff from news reports
   Nine would be armed robbers were captured by the local police during an evening armed heist of Diamonds International on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue at Juarez and 2d St. North. The police reported recovering 25 top brand watches, three handguns and other criminal paraphernalia used to break showcase glass. Enforcement officials here said a robbery of the company’s Cancun store took place simultaneously and had the mark of Federal District gangs.

Some of the detainees evidently told police they were hired just a week ago by gang bosses in the Federal District (Mexico City area) including one named “Possum”. They said they were flown to Cancun on Wednesday then took taxis to the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen. They were given money to stay at a hotel near the terminal, then taken to a house in Playacar to prepare for the heist.

Officials are saying this could be the work of a Federal District criminal organization with a similar modus operandi. The estimated amount of goods stolen was not reported by investigators and no one was injured. 

Monkey see, Monkey do, Monkey go…ing

By Staff
   There are a multitude of daily walkers here in Puerto Aventuras who love to deeply inhale the fresh morning breeze off the Caribbean and feel the rising sun warm their bones like breakfast oatmeal. The other thing they enjoy while strolling is glancing up into the lush carpet of trees for a lucky-day glimpse of the ever-moving spider monkey, or, as known in Espanol, “ el mono.”

Sightings aren’t rare, but they are infrequent to the same people given the monkeys’ penchant for following the scientific notion that a body in motion stays in motion. And for the spider monkey, that can spell doomsday.Just as the hurricanes of the mid-2000s chased the spiders away from the resort for a multi-year hiatus, we are now learning that poaching, road kill and the progress of mankind bulldozing the wild environment has decimated the spider monkey population to the point of near extinction along the Maya Riviera.

That’s according to Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin of Crococun Interactive Park in Puerto Morelos. He reports that in the northern sections of the peninsula the spider population is down to only around 100. We understand from sightings here in PA that where there were four in a local family swinging in the trees last year, the latest multiple sighting being three monkeys. Where is the other guy?

A researcher at a botanical garden of 65 hectares of forest reports only 50 spiders there while the population at Crococun is only 25. The spider monkey has a special morphology (the form and structure of an organism) that allows it to move rather gracefully and harrowingly among the treetops using its tail as a fifth hand. Each year snowbirds arrive and ask, where are the monkeys? It isn’t until someone spots one or more monkeys frolicking here that the the people of Puerto Aventuras  feel that all is well with the world. 🙂 They take photos and send them to the Pelican, a fish eating bird…but that’s another story.

Well, bird watcher Gayle Sandholm caught a couple out on a limb and Kelly Quinlan got shots of three of them frolicking on somebody’s veranda along Bahia Kantenha in the last few weeks, indicating that PA still has at least one resident spider family in motion.  


In case you want to know…

…What touri$t$ leave behind

   More than 10.4 million visitors to national parks in Massachusetts, USA, spent $503.2 million and supported nearly 6,500 jobs in the state in 2012, according to a new report.  The Cape Cod National Seashore contributed the lion’s share of the economic boost. In 2012, the National Seashore attracted 4.4 million visitors, who spent $179 million and supported 2,170 jobs. “This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy — returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service…," said Mike Caldwell, NPS northeast regional director. This gives readers an idea what tourism does for the Riviera Maya.


Briefly Noted…

Compiled from staff, contributor and news reports

WORKERS FOR CFE (Federal Electric Co.) continue to be seen fiddling with the lights along 307 between Puerto Aventuras and Playa del Carmen. They were nearing Punta Venada last week, meaning, hopefully, that CFE will again light the way between the two communities for safer driving after a long period of darkness…MEXICO CITY’S CHAPULTEPEC  ZOO has recorded the first hippo birth in captivity in 16 years while the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral completed a restoration of its centuries old twin organs damaged by fire in1967…STAPLES, a staple retailer in office supplies, is closing 225 stores in the U.S. because of increasing online sales…LET THE POLITICS BEGIN – There’s a flap going on over the route of the proposed transpeninsular train. Cancun is trying to hijack the route so that its terminus is in Cancun and not, as previously announced, at Punta Venada (Calica) on the Riviera Maya and real close to Puerto Aventuras…IF YOU WONDER why high school students in PA staged a sit-in for more classrooms a few weeks ago consider this: Enrollment in U.S. colleges of female Hispanics (Latinas) increased 24 percent from `1994 to 2012. Smart moves…MEXICANS can now call for national referenda on issues of “national importance.” Petitions can originate with the President, one-third of the members of either house, or 2 percent of the voters…JUST PLANE BUSTED – Mexican marines in Sinaloa raided a farm and confiscated six small planes, some weapons and vehicles and detained three armed individuals in a drug raid…U.S., MEXICO AND GUATEMALA form Trinational Security Desk to coordinate battle against drug, human, arms trafficking and other crimes at their borders…  


The Mail Bag…

Enforce golf cart rules

Dear Editor:
   I would like to express my concerns about Golf Carts in PA and to see if your readers have concerns about this subject. I feel that all Golf Carts should have forward and back lights in order to see them in the dark. My husband and I have had too many close calls of almost hitting one or two. Also, any child under 16 should have an adult with them when driving a golf cart. The recklessness of these young drivers needs to stop. We have reported this issue to Security/Colonos but nothing has been done.

Signed/Kim Crews

(Ed. Note: The Colonos reports it is monitoring the above golf-cart infractions and issuing warnings followed by cancellation of a family’s main gate access cards for various periods depending on the number of infractions. The municipality requires a driver’s license, available to youth 16 and over, and night lights to operate golf carts.)

Watch your wallet

Dear Editor:
   I am a year round resident here at PA and live on Puerto Aventuras Boulevard. On Thursday, March 6, around 10:30 p.m. at the "Pub", my wallet was stolen. So as you reported before, pick-pockets are in the area. I immediately called my bank and as of the time of my call was not held accountable for any charge to my HSBC debit card if the thief tried to use it. But due to the late hour, it would be almost impossible. They did get cash. Anyway, I prefer not to use my name, but just felt people should – as you have warned in the past – be careful here at the many restaurants and bars. The thieves are here working the crowds. As it was Karaoke Night you can imagine how many people were there. Thanks for your time and thanks for the information you provide along with stories.
(Ed. Note: The Pelican does not use names of victims as a matter of policy although the name of the author was provided. Additionally, the press reports a wave of burglaries at homes of the wealthy in Playacar. Victims have included the father of a state cabinet member, a former state official and at least three foreign residents.)

Phrase a Week…
“Please change the light bulbs.” In Spanish, you could say  “Por favor, cambia los focos.” 

Church Services… Please click Colonos icon on right top of page.

AA and Alanon meetings…
and ALANON meetings are held at the public library at the Colegio as follows:
AA Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m; Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. ALANON meeting is held Mondays at 5:30 p.m., also at the library. Meetings are “open” and non-members are welcomed to attend.

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For emergency phone numbers, church services, “resident” and “gate” card forms and processes; rules for golf carts and motorcycles, pets, construction by-laws, recycling schedule and other pertinent community information and services, please click on the Puerto Aventuras Colonos icon below. Thank you

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