El Pardito and Isla Espiritu Santo, Mexico

Two hawksbill foraging hotspots with high turtle densities.

Along the western coast of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, local fishermen helped identify critically important hawksbill foraging habitat around islands near Baja California Sur’s capital city of La Paz.

In Espiritu Santo island, the monitoring has been carried out by Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias in collaboration with park rangers.

Fishers from El Pardito island continue to play a key role in monitoring this site and the estuary at San José island, collaborating closely with researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz and the local nonprofit Niparajá. Currently, monitoring includes the use of acoustic and satellite tags and the deployment of video cameras for a better understanding of their movements and habitat preferences.

These two sites have the records of the largest hawksbill sea turtle individuals, at least in the western coast of the Gulf of California, which represents a big hope for the recovery of the species.

Objectives

  • Work with local fishermen to monitor foraging hawksbills.
  • Identify as many individuals as possible using flipper tags.
  • Identify habitat preferences of foraging hawksbills using acoustic and satellite telemetry in El Pardito, Espiritu Santo and recently in Cabo Pulmo.
  • Develop protection measures to ensure no illegal fishing in hawksbill hotspots.
  • Assist with protected area management.

Impact

  • Ten years of monitoring at El Pardito and seven years at Espiritu Santo make these two sites the longest monitored hawksbill foraging grounds in the Eastern Pacific.
  • Capture and tagging of more than 140 juvenile and adult hawksbills.
  • First video material of the species foraging and interacting with other species.
  • Collaborations with local fishermen, conservation organizations and Mexican government authorities.
  • Recent discovery of the high-density foraging area on Isla Espiritu Santo.
  • Ongoing monitoring in other areas to identify additional hawksbill hotspots.
  • First in water monitoring of the species at Cabo Pulmo in the last 10 years.
  • Outreach videos and public talks showing the relevance of the estuary at San José island for the species

Programs

Conservation strategies used by this project site:

In-water Monitoring

Outreach and Education

Exploratory Habitat Investigations

Protected Area Management

ICAPO’s Role with Implementing Organization

  • Communication with other organizations (information link)
  • Technical advising (capacity-building, training, protocol/methodology development)

Allied Organizations

  • WWF, Mexico – Gulf of California Marine Priority Species Program
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