Marine Reserve declared in the World's Aquarium

Espíritu Santo protected

Feature story - 28 November, 2006
A few days after our dive near Espíritu Santo - where we sent a message to the Mexican government: "Marine Reserves now!" - the decree was finally signed and the area will now be protected. This marks the end of a 2.5 year long process, and brings us one small step closer to our goal: a global network of marine reserves.

Diving with the sea lions near Espíritu Santo. The Esperanza is currently sailing the Gulf of Californa as a part of the Ocean Defenders expedition.

Among the many marine treasures found in the Espiritu Santo Archipelago are a colony of sea lions, five species of endangered sea turtles, and a migration route of hammerhead sharks.

The Gulf of California has more than thirty species of marine mammals including the endangered vaquita

, one of many endemic species in this region (vaquita means "little cow" in Spanish). Unfortunately fishing is still allowed in the vaquita area, and every year vaquitas die as bycatch. There is an estimated number of less than 500 vaquitas left.

The Gulf of California was named the "World's Aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau because of its rich marine life. The area is now threatened by pollution, over fishing and uncontrolled tourism development.

The Gulf is of great economic importance for the whole of Mexico, providing half of the country's fish supply. Marine reserves would help protect and sustain the life and productivity of the sea, supporting the regions fisheries, and benefiting the local communities. Recent studies show that marine reserves help increase the number and diversity of species, as well as the size of the animals.

So far, things are looking good on paper for Espíritu Santo. But to make this new marine reserve a reality legislation must be put in place, and enforcement is required to see to that these laws are respected.

For details of the other areas that we are calling to be protected, have a look at the report that we launched at the start of our tour in Mexico.

The Gulf of California - see map and learn more

Read the Esperanza weblog

Updates straight from the ship in the World's Aquarium

Slideshow

Pictures from our journey so far