Mexico Safeguards Vast Stretches of Coast, Deep Ocean

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Image by Octavio Aburto

CANCUN, Mexico, December 5, 2016 (ENS) – Much of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Baja coast and deep ocean are to become protected areas, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Monday at the opening of the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity being held in Cancun this week and next.

The President signed a decree creating three new marine biosphere reserves, on the occasion of hosting COP13. Ministers and delegates from over 190 countries are attending the conference.

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Mexican President Peña Nieto Establishes New 2.7 Million-Acre Baja Pacific Islands Reserve

Coronado Islands, offshore of the US-MEXICO border, Pacific Ocean, Baja California, Mexico

Coronado Islands, offshore of the US-MEXICO border, Pacific Ocean, Baja California, Mexico. Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins

Ensenada, Mexico. December 5, 2016. The President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, today established the 2.7 million acre Islands of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve just offshore of the Pacific Coast of the Baja California Peninsula. This new federal reserve includes 21 islands that are often referred to as the “Galapagos of Mexico” and protects the marine areas around the islands that are habitat for marine mammals, seabirds, and commercially valuable species of fish and shellfish.

“The Islands of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve, that includes the Coronado and Todos Santos Islands off of Tijuana and Ensenada and just south of San Diego, provide habitat for a variety of species that do not exist in any other part of the world,” said Dr. Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WILDCOAST. “In total, this new reserve is home to 50 percent more endemic species of vertebrates and plants per unit of surface area than the Galápagos Islands.”

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Mining for Blue Carbon in the Mangroves of Baja’s Magdalena Bay

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Last week, a WILDCOAST team traveled to Puerto San Carlos in the community of Magdalena Bay. After three hours on the road surrounded by nothing other than cardon cacti, we arrived at our destination.  As you enter Puerto San Carlos, you are welcomed by a sea of mangroves that surround the community, and you are instantly wowed.

Magdalena Bay is the largest wetland in Baja California and provides habitat for some of most pristine and biologically important mangroves in the world. Research has shown that coastal desert mangroves store up to five times more carbon than tropical mangroves. 

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Week #4: Giant Spined Sea Star, Pisaster giganteus

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Photo by Dana Roeber Murray

I am one of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures and can only be found in marine environments. I am a member of phylum Echinodermata (Ancient Greek: echinos – “hedgehog” derma – “skin”) and we are special in that we are not found in freshwater or terrestrial environments. Like my brothers and sisters, I also possess the unique ability to regenerate my spiny limbs lost to predators like seagulls and can detach my arms to act as a distraction while I make my escape. If I am cut in half, I have the ability to grow into 2 new starfish—pretty cool! When I’m not avoiding predators I’m on the lookout for my next meal, which generally consists of barnacles, snails, mussels, limpets, and pretty much anything else I can find. I feed a bit differently that other organisms, which in my case means that I can extend my stomach out into tiny cracks in my prey’s shell and digest the soft tissue found inside.

Why should humans care about me?

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Week #3: Giant Kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera

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I am the single most important organism in kelp forest ecosystems. So important in fact, scientists named the entire ecosystem after me. I am uniquely adapted to thriving in nearshore rocky habitat that covers much of the benthos of San Diego county’s marine areas. Something that most people do not know about me is that I am not a plant but actually an algae. I differ from plants in many ways, but most noticeably I do not have roots. I have what is known as a holdfast, which I use as an anchor to secure themselves to the seafloor. As one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet, I have been recorded growing by as much as 2 feet a day and reaching sizes of 150 feet in a single growing season. As a primary producer, I provide nourishment for the entire southern California ecosystem and facilitate San Diego counties vast biodiversity. 

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The Magic of Cuba’s Coastal and Underwater Treasures

Brown Bowl Sponge (Cribochalina vasculum), Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, Pinar del Rio Province, western Cuba, September

Brown Bowl Sponge (Cribochalina vasculum), Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, Pinar del Rio Province, western Cuba. Por Claudio Contreras.

By Eduardo Najera and Fay Crevoshay.

The WILDCOAST team carried out an expedition to Cuba in September with a film crew from “Por el Planeta”, a national news program on Mexico’s Televisa network. The objective was to document the incredible richness of Cuba’s coral reef and mangrove ecosystems and protected areas. It is almost impossible to describe or even depict the beauty and of Cuba’s underwater and coastal treasures and their importance for the conservation of ocean biodiversity. But at places like Jardines de la Reina, one of the world’s most well preserved marine protected areas, or at Guanahacabibes National Park, the richness of the corals and mangroves give life to the ocean.

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Get to Know Your Neighbors, Week #2: The Garibaldi Fish

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You may have seen me florescent orange, ebbing and flowing with tidal surges against the dark backdrop of the sea floor. If you have snorkeled, swam, or kayaked near La Jolla Cove (in the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve) you may have noticed me curiously pecking away at exposed sections of rocky reef in search of tidbits of food, my favorite being small invertebrates. Just like you I also have a home and at a certain age I built myself a house in order to find a mate. My mate or mates lay eggs in the rocky substrate that I maintain and fiercely protect. I have been known to aggressively attack anything swimming too close to my developing eggs… even humans! Because of my charisma and tenacity I was named the California state marine fish and was also the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ “red fish” in the popular story of Cat in the Hat.

Why should humans care about me?           [Read more…]

Inspired by the Our Ocean Conference

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Serge Dedina, WILDCOAST’s Executive Director

Last week, the U.S. State Department issued a last minute invitation for me to attend the Our Ocean Conference in Washington D.C. hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. According to Secretary Kerry, the purpose of the conference was, “To catalyze actions to protect our ocean from these threats and to empower a new generation to lead the way toward a healthy and sustainable ocean.” As the Executive Director of WILDCOAST, I have worked tirelessly with my amazing team and fishing communities, governments, and the private sector to establish safe havens in the ocean to protect key ecosystems and ocean wildlife. Areas such as Cabo Pulmo National Park are now global models for ocean conservation, with fish stocks rebounding at an incredible pace after banning fishing. And in California, our advanced and extensive system of MPAs are recovering fish populations up and down the coast. So it was great to see global leaders come together to announce new measures for ocean conservation and funding initiatives to further on the ground marine protection initiatives.

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Get to Know your Neighbors!

Get to know your neighbors in San Diego county media segment

Photo by Octavio Abuerto

Photo by Octavio Aburto

In this media segment WILDCOAST would like to introduce San Diegans to some of their closest neighbors… wildlife. San Diego county and its nearshore marine areas are home to one of the most diverse and dynamic ecosystems on the planet. The interactions, both intentional and passive, between humans and wildlife create some complex issues at such an extreme urban/ natural interface. Many San Diegans are keen on issues that arise between humans and wildlife for competing space but may not understand things from a wildlife point of view. WILDCOAST is here to act as translator for local wildlife and inform human residents that wildlife residents, although voiceless, need to be heard. This segment will also act as a reminder to WiLDCOAST followers that opportunities to volunteer are plentiful.

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WILDCOAST’s Floating Laboratories are Helping to Conserve our Marine Protected Areas

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This summer and fall, WILDCOAST is carrying out an exciting project to engage San Diego County students in the conservation of the region’s marine protected areas, or MPAs. Through our Floating Laboratory project, students from the Sycuan Teen Center, La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, San Ysidro Girl Scout Troop 5912 and Imperial Beach Junior Lifeguards are conducting real scientific research on the water to help guide MPA management decisions and enhance their ability to protect coastal and marine resources.

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