When you first hear about Alacranes Reef (Scorpion Reef in English) you may wonder about the origin of its name.
Are there scorpions? Is it dangerous? Is it shaped like a scorpion?
Being one of the most remote reefs in Mexico, located 140 kilometers off the Yucatan coast, it is rarely visited. However, for many unlucky colonial seagoers, a voyage through the reef meant danger, suffering or death – qualities that gave it its nickname, Scorpion Reef.
For example, in 1524, the former governor of Cuba, Alonso Suazo, undertook a trip from the island to New Spain to mediate in a conflict between Hernán Cortés and Francisco de Garay over control of the Province of Pánuco. Suazo’s ship crashed into the reef during a storm and he, along with 46 others, survived for 135 days by feeding on turtles and birds.
Historically, well known shipwrecks helped reinforce the origin of the name “Scorpion Reef”, but the reality is that its sting isn’t so bad. The area serves as a refuge for boats experiencing bad weather and – with at least 136 species of fish, 34 species of corals and various other marine life – it is an important reason why Mexico is one of 17 nations with the great biodiversity.