About us

Restoring nature while empowering communities

Marine Resilience & Sustainability Center (MARES) is dedicated to restoring the biodiversity of the Caribbean Sea in response to the urgent need for action.  

MARES Center, formerly Takata Research Center, was founded at the end of 2016 with the mission to contribute to the conservation and restoration of Mahahual’s coastal ecosystems. Over the years, it has evolved into a recognized and thriving research center in the south of Quintana Roo, driven by a passionate team of researchers, conservationists, environmental managers and educators.  

We envision Mahahual as a destination where ecotourism fuels sustainable development. We aspire to create a place where environmental  conservation and restoration are the foundation  of development initiatives, emphasizing inclusion and respect for the local community. Since 2016, MARES Center has implemented various programs and projects focusing on conservation and restoration, actively involving the local community. Our goal is to protect Mahahual’s biodiversity, natural environments, and restore the ecosystems and wildlife within. 

Our mission: to protect marine biodiversity through education, research and conservation. 

Our vision: to create a sustainable community to ensure the future of our oceans.

MARES Center is committed to effective collaboration with the local community and government, organized around five pillars:  

  1. Research 
  2. Ecosystem conservation and restoration  
  3. Integrated environmental management  
  4. Environmental education 
  5. Empowerment of the local community

Our most significant achievements include:  

  • Restoring 10,000m2 of degraded reef to a thriving and biodiverse state.
  • Collaborating with the community to raise awareness and drive change.
  • Launching the Mahahual Marine Restoration Lab in collaboration with the key Mexican organizations dedicated to reef conservation.
  • Engaging with the private and public sectors to promote sustainable development.
  • Welcoming  volunteers and interns from universities worldwide, fostering a global community dedicated to marine conservation.
In 2017, the Takata Research Center started its first projects while formalizing its legal constitution. Waste management and environmental education were the foundation of our bigger vision. It was the dream of restoring marine-coastal ecosystems, specifically the coral reef, that served as a motivated force for our small team working with limited resources. The sister organization, Takata Dive Center, that opened its doors only a few months before, covered all the costs, and much of the work was driven by dedicated volunteers.
Within a few months, the Takata Research Center started offering internships to university students. This marked a crucial moment, fostering the project’s rapid growth. Students from diverse backgrounds and cultures applied to manage projects in their respective fields, ranging from biologists to anthropologists. Programs in waste management, environmental education, ecosystem monitoring, green economy, tourism, and eventually ecosystem restoration were implemented. This interdisciplinary approach enabled us to study not only ecosystems and biodiversity but also the intricate social dynamics and the community’ connection to its natural environment.
The Mahahual Coral Restoration Project began in 2019, starting with reef monitoring to assess its conservation status and identify an adequate site for the nursery. After a year of testing the nursery resilience against storms and exploring various methodologies, the full-scale project officially launched in 2021, involving the transplantation of coral fragments to the restoration site. Supported by the TAKATA Dive Center, OCEANUS AC, the Mexican Government, the United Nations, PADI AWARE, MCAF, and private donations, the project expanded to include genetic diversity analysis and engage the local community in cleaning and transplantation activities.
Collaborations with experts in the field enabled us to initiate the sexual reproduction of endangered coral species and establish the Mahahual Marine Restoration Laboratory. This lab, designed as an ex-situ coral nursery, also facilitates the culture of reef herbivores for their reintroduction. Simultaneously, we continue to work in passive restoration, focusing on education, management, and conservation of associated ecosystems. An essential network, including project supervisors, scientific collaborators, university interns, volunteers, students, local divemasters and instructors, contributed to our initiatives. As our goals grew, it became crucial to create a separate entity to strengthen our projects. This arose from the need for an identity that could effectively represent our work, define our essence, and showcase our aspirations. This led to the establishment of the MARES Center.
We believe in the potential of coastal socio-economic development that respects the environment not only to protect existing ecosystems but also to serve as a catalyst for the restoration of what has been lost. Both active and passive restoration are necessary to achieving a significant positive impact on the ecosystem. That is why, alongside transplanting coral fragments, our efforts aim to transform Mahahual into a sustainable community. We believe that a development respectful of nature is possible and that the economy can prosper as a consequence of ecotourism and healthy ecosystems. However, as a society we must redefine the balance between human ways of life and the protection of our planet.