Other Pictures From Baja California

These pictures weren’t taken in Cabo Pulmo, but I thought you might find them interesting anyway.

worm tubesThese are some worm tubes from Bahía Concepcion that stayed standing after the tide went out, because there was no wind that day and the bay is so protected that I’m pretty sure it never has waves.

cemeteryThis is the Children’s Cemetery in Guerrero Negro. Apparently a Japanese sailor came ashore to purchase salt and had some sort of sickness (nobody seems to know what) that only children were susceptible to. After about forty children died within two weeks the people decided that the bodies should be buried far from town in order to avoid a plague. According to Juan Diaz Estrada (http://juandiazestrada.blogspot.com/2012/08/guerrero-negro-mistico.html) the ghosts of the children have recently been seen playing in Guerrero Negro, but when I was there (it was New Year’s Eve) I only saw live people playing with fireworks.

Oro, Plata, ¡Viva! The Gold and Silver Sea Life of Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo is unquestionably the Gulf of California’s most successful marine reserve due to a high level of community support, which has rendered poaching nearly non-existent (Aburto-Oropeza et al. 2011). This has led to spectacular recoveries of large fish, which hang over the reef in gold and silver schools. The tourists who come to dive with this fish also contribute a certain amount of plata to the village of Cabo Pulmo, where many former fishermen now work as dive masters and boat guides. The rest of this post can be read as a brochure for one of those rare times in conservation where things have actually turned out pretty well.

A school of large dogtooth snappers seems to enjoy hanging out with the jacks.
A school of large dogtooth snappers seems to enjoy hanging out with the jacks.
A yellowtail, a leopard grouper, a Pacific creole fish, and a purple surgeonfish follow the school of jacks.
An amberjack (identified by Levi Lewis), a leopard grouper, a Pacific creole fish, and a purple surgeonfish follow the school of jacks.

The most famous silver at Cabo Pulmo is the thousand-strong school of bigeye jacks that occurred so predictably on my second dive at the Los Morros reef that I was able to use them as background for pictures of other fish. The other fish on the reef also carried on as if the school was something they’d seen many times before. Eventually gold fish began to mix themselves forcing silver to take second at least temporarily.

A small, but memorable percentage of leopard groupers are golden.
A small, but memorable percentage of leopard groupers are golden.
This barber fish is not at all impressed with the school of jacks.
This barber fish is not at all impressed with the school of jacks.
The guineafowl puffer also sometimes displays a golden phase.
The guineafowl puffer also sometimes displays a golden phase.

In fact, golden fish can also be encountered in impressive numbers at Cabo Pulmo, most notably the large schools of graybar grunts and blue and gold snappers, but there were also guinea fowl puffers and leopard groupers hanging out either alone or in small schools.

I believe I found an underwater fishfall made of blue and gold snapper.
I believe I found an underwater fishfall made of blue and gold snapper.
Large schools of graybar grunts can be found at El Cantil Reef.
Large schools of graybar grunts can be found at El Cantil Reef.
Panama graysbys plotting something.
Panama graysbys plotting something.
Coral hawkfish perched on a Porites spp. head.
Coral hawkfish perched on a Porites spp. head.
A fanged blenny in the foreground and a coral hawkfish in the background.
A fanged blenny in the foreground and a coral hawkfish in the background.
Toxopneustes roseus, better known as the flower urchin. I can see why.
Toxopneustes roseus, better known as the flower urchin. I can see why.
A Cortez garden eel pokes its head out of the sand.
A Cortez garden eel pokes its head out of the sand.
Sometimes the birds are brighter than the flowers.
Sometimes the birds are brighter than the flowers.

I should not, however, give readers the impression that gold and silver are the only colors on this reef. If I lookes carefully I could find Panama graysbys, which were probably up to no good. I was also able to find cryptic fish like coral hawkfish and fanged blennies hiding around coral heads and school of baby fish, which will hopefully ensure the reef’s future generations. Natural beauty, finally, wasn’t confined only to the reef or fish. I only saw one sea urchin, but it was gorgeous, and I also saw Cortez garden eels on the sand flats and hummingbirds on land.

In other news wordpress really sucks, because not only did it totally spoil the layout for this post, but it also won’t let me post the videos I take. Instead I uploaded them to YouTube and you can find them on the following links.

Jacks synchronized swimming: http://youtu.be/BOQNIhyKNEw

Jacks can yawn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvBqbteUulo As a warning this one happens pretty fast.

Jacks swimming straight at you: http://youtu.be/PSGUvyWPzYE

The school of graybar gunts: http://youtu.be/5QGmXDhPXiw

Sources:

Aburto-Oropeza O, Erisman B, Galland GR, Mascareñas-Osorio I, Sala E, Ezcurra E. 2011. Large recovery of fish biomass in a no-take marine reserve. PLoS one 6(8). cabo pulmo paper

Renewed My Wilderness First Responder Certification

Scan 3Well as of December 17th, 2014 and an obscene amount of fake vomit I should remain a wilderness first responder for the next three years. This is pretty useful for me given the amount of time I spend in remote environments either for field work or travel. Many thanks to Joshua Jackson, the awesome instructor, and all of my classmates including noted free skier Glen Plake (really).