Earthwatch volunteers who joined the Black Sea Turtles of Baja expeditions in the late 90s can look back at all those long days of hauling uncooperative sea turtles aboard small boats to weigh and tag them and know that it was worth it. Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced on June 6 that Bahia de los Angeles, a bay that is home to whale sharks, fin whales, California sea lions, and five species of sea turtles, is now designated a protected area and biosphere reserve.
Earthwatch PI Dr. "J" Nichols calls this "a long-awaited conservation success that many in the sea turtle community and many hundreds of Earthwatch volunteers contributed to."
This 957,660-acre reserve includes coastal, marine, and island ecosystems that harbor numerous marine species, as well as birds and other coastal wildlife. With the new protection in place, there will be no bottom trawlers, shrimp farms, marina developments, deforestation, or construction of inland channels in the area. This protection may help protect the critically endangered vaquita, a small, shy porpoise of which only 500 or so remain.
Nichols and his colleagues Drs. William Megill and Volker Koch will be running Earthwatch teams in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California this fall on a new research project: Tracking Baja's Black Sea Turtles.
Read Press Release here