"We believe that the success of CPNP is greatly due to local leadership, effective self-enforcement by local stakeholders, and the general support of the broader community," the authors note in their report.
Strictly enforced marine reserves have been proven to help reduce local poverty and increase economic benefits, the researchers say. Cabo Pulmo's marine life recovery has spawned eco-tourism businesses, including coral reef diving and kayaking, making it a model for areas depleted by fishing in the Gulf of California and elsewhere.
"The reefs are full of hard corals and sea fans, creating an amazing habitat for lobsters, octopuses, rays and small fish," said Brad Erisman, a Scripps postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the article. "During some seasons thousands of mobula rays congregate inside the park and swim above the reef in a magnificent way."
The scientists have been combining efforts to monitor the Gulf of California's rocky reefs every year for more than a decade, sampling more than 30 islands and peninsula locations along Baja California, stretching from Puerto Refugio on the northern tip of Angel de la Guarda to Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Pulmo south of the Bahia de La Paz.
In the ten years studied, the researchers found that Cabo Pulmo's fish species richness blossomed into a biodiversity "hot spot." Animals such as tiger sharks, bull sharks and black tip reef sharks increased significantly. Scientists continue to find evidence that such top predators keep coral reefs healthy (link to Sandin news release). Other large fish at Cabo Pulmo include gulf groupers, dog snappers and leopard groupers.
"I participated, back in the 1990s, in the studies for the declaration of the marine park. Frankly, we decided to go ahead because the community was so determined but the place at that time was not in good environmental healt
|Contact: Mario Aguilera or Robert Monroe|
University of California - San Diego