On Mexico’s northeast coast, the chilly California Current collides with the sunlit waters of the subtropical Pacific Ocean. This encounter sets off a marine upwelling that in turn provides nutrients for a rich ecosystem on some 18 islands off the Baja California peninsula. Sea creatures as diverse as abalone and yellowtail tuna teem along their shores.
The islands also draw 20 species of nesting seabirds and four kinds of aquatic carnivores with flippers (pinnipeds), including seals and sea lions. In fact, the archipelago boasts a community of endemic fauna and flora surpassing that of Darwin’s favorite stomping ground in the Americas, the Galapagos Islands.
Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas (GECI), a sister organization of Global Conservation Fund partner Island Conservation based in Ensenada in the state of Baja California, studies and champions this fragile ecosystem. GECI has joined forces with local fishermen, environmental agencies within the Mexican government and others to promote a biosphere reserve that would protect Baja’s islands for future generations, while maintaining their abundant fisheries.
GCF is backing GECI’s campaign to establish this national reserve, which would protect not just 121,000 hectares of the Baja Islands themselves, but more than 146,000 hectares of surrounding waters. This plan has gained broad support across Mexico and is poised to soon become a reality. In addition, GCF supports GECI’s efforts to rid three of the Baja California islands of invasive mammals—feral cats, dogs and goats—that threaten endemic wildlife there.