According to the National Protected Areas Commission (Conanp), over the past six months divers have “planted” 550 fragments of live Pocillopora coral on to the decaying reef adjoining the fabled Playa de Amor (Beach of Love, or Hidden Beach as it is more commonly known) on the Marieta Islands situated off the Jalisco/Nayarit coast.
Albeit with severe restrictions, federal authorities have now reopened the beach, considered one of the wonders of western Mexico.
The beach has been off limits to the public since April to enable work on the coral reef to continue without interruption. Unregulated tourism has been the main reason for the decline of the reef in recent years, scientists conclude.
The new regulations determine that a maximum of 161 tourists can visit the beach each day. There can only be 15 visitors on the beach at any one time, and they only are permitted stay there for 30 minutes.
Access to the beach will be via a special “corridor” marked with buoys. Visitors must wear life jackets and are prohibited from diving in the area.
The “Hidden Beach” is unusual in that it is invisible from the outside and only accessible through a long water tunnel that links it to the ocean.
More than 50 percent of the coral fragments have attached successfully, a Conanp blog reports. They are expecting a success rate of at least 80 percent.