Playa del Carmen is a coastal city located on the warm, inviting waters of the Caribbean Sea. Positioned in southern North America, the landscape of the town and its surroundings harbor a distinctly varied wildlife, and a vast ecological biodiversity.
1. Turquoise-browed Motmot
The Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) is a flamboyantly feathered bird that lives in a relatively small area stretching from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to northern Guatemala, and on the Pacific coast from southern Mexico to northwest Costa Rica. In the subtropical rainforest surrounding Playa del Carmen it is mostly spotted near jungle cenotes or sinkholes where it nests in the limestone walls. Its striking colors include olive-green underparts, turquoise flight feathers, a black mask, and a long graduated bright blue tail which have black-tipped turquoise rackets at the ends. Bird watching tours that include a jungle portion will more than likely be on the lookout for this beautiful specimen.
2. Coati (or coatimundi)
The coati (Nasua narica), or hog-nosed raccoon, is found from the southwestern U.S. (southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) through northern Uruguay. The white-nosed coati is the species that lives in and around Playa del Carmen, and is a common sight in big hotel resorts and on golf courses. While you may consider them cute, especially when they are very young, be careful not to approach them as are fierce fighters when provoked. Aside from defense, their strong jaws, sharp canine teeth and fast scratching paws are used catch and eat any invertebrates (like tarantulas) and small vertebrates (like lizards and small rodents and birds).
3. Rainbow parrotfish
The rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia) is a tropical fish that inhabits the coral reefs of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which extends from northern Cancun through the Riviera Maya (including Playa del Carmen) to Honduras. As its name suggests, they are attractively colored with deep green bodies and orange fins with streaks of green that extend outwards towards the back and tail. Take a snorkel tour in Playa del Carmen or try some scuba diving to catch a glimpse of these beautiful animals.
4. Whale shark
The enormous whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest fish in the sea. Its name can be confusing, so to be clear this is a shark. The difference between sharks (and all other fish) and whales is that sharks are able to absorb oxygen from water which they take in through their gills, whereas whales (like all other mammals) use lungs to breathe. Feeding this 40 foot long (12 meters) body is done by swimming close to the water’s surface and scooping up plankton and any other small creatures that may be around. This allows for humans to accompany these docile creatures in the water either by snorkeling or just swimming alongside them.
5. Green turtle
Adult green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) spend most of their time in shallow, coastal waters, like inshore bays or lagoons with lush seagrass beds. Young turtles eat worms, young crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasses and algae. However once they mature their diet is mostly seagrass and algae. If you snorkel or scuba dive along the Riviera Maya coast you will more than likely spot these placid creatures feeding on seagrass. The turtles nest during the summer months, and at night you can see them digging their nests to lay their eggs.