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.
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.
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 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
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