Quality of Tourist Beaches in Huatulco, SW of Mexico: Multiproxy Studies

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Ivonne Retama1, M.P Jonathan2 and Pedro F. Rodriguez-Espinosa2, (1)INP National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, (2)Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Interdisciplinario de Investigaciones y Estudios sobre Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo, México DF, Mexico
40 beach water and sediment samples were collected from the inter-tidal zones of tourist beaches of Huatulco in the State of Oaxaca, South Western part of Mexico. The samples were collected in an aim to know the concentration pattern of metals (Cu, Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb, Zn, Co, Mn, Fe, As, Hg) in sediments and microplastics. Physico-chemical parameters like temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity and total dissolved solids, salinity and redox potential. Collection of samples was done during the peak season in April 2013. Our results from water samples indicate that the physico-chemical conditions of the beach water have been altered due to human activities in large numbers. The bioavailable metal concentrations indicate that enrichment of Pb, Cd, Cr and As and it is also supported by the higher values observed from the calculation of enrichment factor and geoaccumulation index. The higher values in the sediments is either due to natural sources like chemical weathering of rocks and external sources, which points to high tourism, agricultural activities in the region. Identification of micro-plastics was done through SEM photographs, indicating the type of plastic wastes deposited into the beach regions which can indicate the density, durability and the persistence level in the sediments. Eventhough the enrichment of metals and modification of beach water quality is observed, care need to be taken to avoid further damage to the coastal ecosystem.

Keywords: Tourism, Beach sediments, Beach water, Micro plastics, Trace metals, Contamination indices, Huatulco, Mexico.