Photo Credit: www.islacontoy.org
On our 29th wedding anniversary, July 2, 2008, we visited Isla Contoy with our marina friends Thomas, Elizabeth, Francisco, Patrick and Nancy. On Wednesday, July 9, we returned for another visit with Thomas, Elizabeth, Francisco, Patrick and Nancy, and Nancy's visiting daughter Claire Griswold and family... Ben, Kara, and Abby.
Isla Contoy is 19 miles north of Isla Mujeres, a one hour boat ride in Tom's panga.
Isla Contoy ("Isle of Birds") is a national wildlife park and bird sanctuary. It is located at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Only 1/2 mile wide and 4 miles long, the island is a protected area and the number of visitors is carefully regulated. A permit is required to visit and the cost is $4.20 USD per person. The island houses a small museum and biological station with a tower for viewing the island.
Although more than 70 bird species fly this way in late fall, we saw only a few species during our visit...the Magnificent Frigate, double-crested cormorants, brown pelicans, and herons.
Magnificent Frigate birds have a wing span of nearly 9 feet. They can navigate with ease and their forked tail helps them change direction quickly. They swoop down and pluck small fish from the surface of the water, dipping only their bill into the water. They can neither walk nor swim. They spend their time either in the air or perched on a limb of the mangrove bushes where they build their nests.
Mother Magnificent Frigate (left) with baby (right) on nest Female Frigate (white head) with Male Frigate (black head)
Magnificent Frigate in Flight in Mangrove Swamp This male frigate's wingspan was 7 feet
A tower located on the island affords great views of the entire island.
Black rocks and coral fringe the east and southern coast of the island.
Coconut palms, sandy white beaches and mangroves fringe the west and northern coast of the island.
Other than birds and the dozen or so park rangers who live here, the island's only other residents are iguanas, lizards, turtles, hermit crabs and boa constrictors.
The island is rich in sea life. Snorkeling in shallow waters, we saw a large stingray, several barracuda, angelfish, blue tang, a 3 ft golden moray eel. Everyone had fun playing on the beach.
Francisco pets a Southern Stingray
The Long Trip Home
All photos (with the exception of the aerial island view) were taken by LA and Susan Wyatt.
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