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6 Contoy species you didn't know are endangered

6 Contoy species you didn't know are endangered

Although Contoy is a government-protected area, it is home to endangered species. Read on and learn about the 6 endangered species that inhabit Isla Contoy.

Aerial photo of Isla Contoy

In previous blogs, we saw that Isla Contoy is a bird sanctuary, turtle nesting area, and Ramsar site. In short, it is an area of great importance for the natural balance of the Mexican Caribbean. However, despite all the efforts made on the island, the number of many species of plants and animals is decreasing.

One of the most important actions to help preserve these species is to inform, that's why we will tell you about the 6 endangered species that inhabit Isla Contoy.


Today's content:

Risk categories

Before introducing you to the 6 species, we would like to explain the categories of risk in which they are found. These categories are defined by the Official Mexican Standard: NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, which aims to identify the species or populations of flora and fauna at risk in the Mexican Republic.



These are species that could become endangered and actions are being carried out for the recovery and conservation of the populations.

Sea Cucumber

An example in danger of extinction (PR) in Mexico is the sea cucumber (Holothuroide), an echinoderm prey to illegal trade for its supposed healing properties. Photo:



Those that could be in danger of disappearing in the short or medium term if the factors that keep them under threat (such as pollution or habitat destruction, for example) continue to operate and their populations decrease.

Island Coati

The island coati, coatimundi, or Cozumel badger (Nasua narica) is an example of a threatened species (A) in Mexico. The urbanization of the island and the introduction of domestic dogs and cats represent a danger to the island coatis. Photo: NaturalistaCR


2.- endangered (P)

The distribution areas of these species have decreased drastically, putting their populations at risk in their habitat. Some causes of the decreasing numbers are the destruction of their natural habitat, unsustainable exploitation, diseases, and predation.

Guadalupe fur sealThe Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi) is an endangered species in Mexico. The main factor is the polution of its natural habitat. Photo: Natusfera  





This species is native to Mexico, whose free-living specimens have disappeared as far as studies have shown, and of which there are known live exemplars in confinement or outside Mexican territory.

Socorro dove

The Socorro dove (Zenaida graysoni) is an extinct species in Mexico. It was last seen in 1972. The main threat was the introduction of cats to Socorro Island, its natural habitat. Less than 200 specimens remain, located in zoos in the United States, Germany and England. Photo: Inecol



Now that you know the categories, here are the 6 endangered species that inhabit Contoy. 😢

Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus)

horseshoe crab

The horseshoe crab is a species that has survived for more than 200 million years and, unfortunately, today is in danger of disappearing. It is distributed along the coast from the Yucatán Peninsula to the east coast of the United States. It frequents muddy and sandy areas, as well as lagoons and mangroves. The main reason why it is endangered is that its blood is used as medicine against cancer and HIV.


piping plover (Charadrius melodus)

Piping plover

Photo: Naturalista

The piping plover travels more than 2500 kilometers to the Yucatán Peninsula to escape the South Dakota winter. It frequents the coastal areas of eastern North America, and it is estimated that there are only about 6400 left in the world.


Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Loggerhead turtle

Loggerhead turtles face many dangers and predators:

  • While still inside the egg, they must deal with worms, larvae, ants, crabs, snakes, snakes, seagulls, and rats, among many other predators.
  • At hatching, the hatchlings must make a dangerous journey back to the sea and survive in the water to eels, parrot fish, crabs, and even city lighting.
  • Upon reaching maturity, it is rare for adults to be attacked, but 40% of nesting females have been observed to have injuries caused by shark bites.
  • When spawning, females are attacked by flies, mosquitoes, mammals such as foxes or raccoons, seabirds, and even humans.
  • They must also survive parasites and diseases.
  • They face obstacles such as fishing nets, garbage, and habitat destruction.


green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

green turtle

The green turtle's meat, eggs, and fat were considered a delicacy for many years. In ancient China, it was cooked in soup. In Hawaii, its skin was used to make handbags. In Indonesia and Bali, the meat is the main ingredient of culinary specialties.


hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

 Hawksbill turtle

In addition to their capture for human consumption, one of the main causes of the loss of hawksbill turtles is exploitation. Hawksbill plates from the shell of this species are used for decorative purposes and fetch very high prices on the market, as much as ivory or gold.


Rodeck's whiptail (Aspidoscelis rodecki)


Photo: Naturalista

This lizard, also known as the Quintana Roo huico, is a species endemic to Puerto Juarez and Isla Mujeres and has currently found protection on Isla Contoy. The main threat to this species is the loss of its habitat due to the expansion of human settlements.

As you will see, most of the endangered species on the list are the sea turtles of Isla Contoy, however, the authorities work tirelessly to keep the nests safe and eliminate all factors that threaten their natural habitat.


14 threatened species

After the endangered species come to the threatened species of Isla Contoy. Here you will not only find animals, but also some plant species. Read on to find out: 👀


Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) Whale shark
Yucatán molly (Poecilia velifera) Yucatan Molly




White-crowned pigeon (Patagioenas leucocephala) White-crowned pigeon 
Mangrove rail (Rallus longirostris)    Mangrove rail
Red-footed booby (Sula sula) Red-footed booby
American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) American flamingo




Black spiny-tailed iguana(Ctenosaura similis) Black spiny-tailed iguana
Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) Boa constrictor



Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) Black mangrove
Button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus)  Black mangrove
White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa)  White mangrove
Red mangove (Rhizophora mangle)  Red mangove
Holywood lignum-vitae (Guaiacum sanctum) Holywood lignum-vitae
Chit palm (Thrinax radiata)  Chit palm


*Most of the threatened plants are mangroves of Isla Contoy.



What to do to help nature?

There are many actions we can do as civilians to mitigate species loss. Here are some ideas that you can start applying now:

  • Do not buy products made from plants or animals. For example, decorations made with turtle shells, medicines made with marine species, taxidermy, and articles with skins or feathers of endangered animals.
  • Respect nature. If you take a tour to Isla Contoy, pay attention to the guides and follow the park rules. You will be supporting local tourism and contributing resources for research and maintenance of the island.
  • Join the beach cleanups. While cleaning the beaches will not solve the problem of trash from across the seas, we can help create a safer environment in the short term for the species that live there.
  • Stop wearing of non-biodegradable sunscreen. The chemicals in sunscreens harm marine plant and animal species. You can switch to a biodegradable sunscreen or wear a long-sleeved swimsuit to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Respect the closures. There are many other activities besides sport fishing, but if you still want to fish, respect closed seasons and protected species.
  • Opt for tours or attractions with sustainability certifications that support the environment, such as Blue Flag, Green Globe, and Earth Check, among others.
  • Carry out conservation actions at home, such as turning off lights, recycling garbage, not throwing pollutants, regulating the use of automobiles, and educating society, among others.

Talking about endangered species is not easy, but being advised of this topic is part of the actions we must take to raise awareness and positively impact our environment.

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