A ten-year analysis of Cabo Pulmo Nationa Park showed the number of fish in the marine reserve increased more than 460%. This increase is big news because the waters had been depleted by overfishing. Local residents actually helped enforce the no-take guidelines for the area once it was designated as protected. (No-take means no fish could be caught and taken out of the habitat.)
“The study’s results are surprising in several ways. A biomass increase of 463 percent in a reserve as large as Cabo Pulmo represents tons of new fish produced every year. No other marine reserve in the world has shown such a fish recovery,” said Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, lead author of the study. (Source: Irishweatheronline.com)
If you are wondering where Cabo Pulmo National Park is, the answer is Mexico, near Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula. It is the site of the only coral reef in the area. The marine reserve covers seventy-one square kilometers. Water temperatures range from seventy degrees and up.
Overfishing was a problem there before the ten-year study and creation of the park, but local families and people who run diving and snorkeling tours worked together to make sure the park was protected. Tourism related to the abundant marine life generates much revenue for the locals, and they also wanted to keep their area beautiful and vital.
A local man whose family has lived there for five generations said, “Fifteen years ago we stopped fishing and started taking care of the reef. Today we offer tourist services such as diving, snorkeling, boat rides, sport fishing [outside of the park], and lodging.” (Source: sergededina.com)
Mobula rays, octopus, lobster, and small fish live near the reef. Also predators like tiger sharks, bull sharks, and black tip reef sharks have increased there, and continue to play an important role in managing the ecosystem. Other large fish live there such as gulf groupers, dog snappers and leopard groupers.
Image Credit: Carlos Aguilera