Each summer it was common to see the Pacific Giant Mantas coming to a cleaning station known as La Reina, located 3 miles north of Cerralvo Island in the Gulf of California. The last time they were there was in 2002 when their population collapsed due to uncontrolled local overfishing. Years later in 2006 I visited for the first time the Archipelago of Revillagigedo, where after 4 years of not seeing them again in La Reina I was once again meeting them in this archipelago formed by four islands that is 220 nautical miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas in the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico.
Not just the giant mantas are inhabitants of these islands, but also dolphins, sharks, large schools of fish and on top of that, one of the great cetaceans, humpback whales! All together showed a particular interest in approaching us humans with such curiosity that it was obvious that they were not afraid as in other places. It was clear that it was one of the few marine ecosystems that had not been so affected by human presence. However, some of the marine decrees of some Biosphere Reserves in Mexico are devalued, where uncontrolled commercial fishing has led to the near extinction of the Vaquita and in other reserves fishing is still permitted. Another decree of Biosphere Reserve under these conditions would generate skepticism and suspicion on the part of the national and international conservation community and the media.
For me Revillagigedo (aka Socorro Islands) has been like my second home, a wild natural laboratory full of many beauties and spectacles that are at the order of the day. The National Park will contribute to increase the prestige of Mexico and to integrate a group of civilized countries that have assumed leadership and have been responsible for the conservation of national heritage and vital global public goods, however any place declared as protected, really needs to be under strict surveillance to ensure its absolute protection, has to be regulated and most important of all, has to have a good management plan.
The future effective protection of the Archipelago of Revillagideo with fisheries exclusion would not have an impact on the fishing industry; would be more than safely captured outside the protected area due to its function as a shelter, nursery, breeding, spawning and feeding area and the effect of spillover outwards of the protected area. Its protection will lead this ocean crown of Mexico to be one of the best examples of successful marine ecosystems worldwide.
See more of Erick’s work here.