The Saving Our Sharks project called for a strict no-fishing shark sanctuary along the Mexican Caribbean to protect one of the only bull shark breeding areas known in the world.
Speaking at Cozumel Scuba Fest, Luis Lombardo, the director of Saving Our Sharks, said the whole Caribbean would benefit if sharks were protected along the Mexican stretch of the Mesoamerican Reef System.
He explained that protecting apex predators in now understood to be of crucial importance in safeguarding the health and biodiversity of any ecosystem - terrestrial or marine.
'We need to link up with the other shark protected areas in the rest of the Caribbean', he told the audience at the 5th annual gathering of divers and conservationists in Cozumel in Mexico. ' We have discovered one of the only known bull shark nurseries in the world and it is of vital importance to the region.'
Saving Our Sharks is calling for a 5km strip along the whole of the Mesoamerican Reef System in Mexico to be made a marine protection zone. The area is home to 16 different species of sharks and rays and it has now been established that bull sharks come to the coastal mangroves to give birth. A single female can pup up to 15 live bull sharks in each pregnancy.
Louis also told the conference how his organisation has organised effective local regulation among 40 dive centres in the area so divers can see the bull sharks aggregating without harassing the animals.
From December to February each year divers can see as many as 30 bull sharks during especially organised dives near Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo.
'About half of the sharks are mature females who are carrying pups,' he said, 'the others will be juveniles. It is an amazing spectacle.'
Luis was the keynote speaker at the second day of the Scuba Fest which also included a presentation from one of the founding fathers of diving in Cozumel, Robert Marx about his career as a treasure hunter and from Colleen Flanigan about the living reef she has established off the island which is an exciting blend of science and art which helps regenerate the reef and educate and enthuse people about coral conservation.