Mexico Creates One of the Largest Marine Reserves in the Pacific

ENVIRONMENT

Mexico’s government has created the largest ocean reserve in North America around the Pacific archipelago of the Revillagigedo islands. (The Guardian and National Geographic)

What’s going on around the Revillagigedo islands? Learn more from our Pristine Seas expedition.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

The Revillagigedo islands are an archipelago of four volcanic islands off Mexico’s central west coast, part of the state of Colima.
Map by National Geographic

The Revillagigedo islands are an iconic dive destination with one of the largest aggregations of manta rays in the world.
Photograph by waskyo, courtesy Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0

 

Discussion Ideas

 

  • What makes the Revillagigedo islands such a crucial place to create a marine reserve?
    • Nicknamed the “Galapagos of North America” or the “Galapagos of Mexico”, the islands are rich in biodiversity. The warm Pacific waters are home to hundreds of species of sharks, rays, tuna, and other fish; humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins; and five species of sea turtles. The islands themselves are home to endemic species of birds, lizards, and snakes.
    • Unlike the Galapagos, the Revillagigedos are largely uninhabited. (The Mexican navy maintains small stations on two of the islands.)
    • The Revillagigedo islands are an important migratory stopover for marine mammals, reptiles, and birds. For example, the islands provide a winter home for humpback whales (learn more about them here); nesting sites for endangered green sea turtles (learn more about their migration here); and the only place where the critically endangered Townsend’s shearwater breeds.
    • The isolation and biodiversity of the Revillagigedo islands have made them one of the most popular (and lucrative) dive spots in the world.
    • The unique habitat of the Revillagigedo islands are already a national biosphere reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn more about that here.

 

  • What activities threaten pristine conditions in the Revillagigedo islands?
    • commercial fishing. According to the Guardian, the Revillagigedos are a “breeding ground for commercially fished species such as tuna and sierra. However, the various fish populations had suffered, unable to reproduce fast enough for the rate at which they were fished.”
    • sport fishing. According to our Pristine Seas expedition to the Revillagigedos, sport fishing targets large ocean predators, such as tuna, wahoo, and grouper.
    • development. The tourism industry would thrive on the Revillagigedos—hotels, restaurants, recreational activities.
    • invasive species. Although largely eradicated, the presence of introduced species such as sheep, pigs, and mice have left a long-lasting impact on the landscape.

 

  • How does the new marine reserve protect the Reillagigedo islands? Read through the National Geographic article for some help.
    • The reserve is a no-take MPA, meaning all forms of fishing and extractive activities are prohibited.
    • Construction of hotel facilities will not be permitted on any of the islands.
    • Tourism will be limited to a set number of dive boats, and no tourists will be allowed onshore without a permit.
    • The area will be strictly policed by the Mexican navy.

 

 

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

The Guardian: Mexico creates vast new ocean reserve to protect ‘Galapagos of North America’

Nat Geo: Largest Marine Protected Area in North America to Be Created off Mexico

Nat Geo: Revillagigedo Islands

UNESCO: Archipiélago de Revillagigedo

Nat Geo: What is a marine reserve? (reference)

Nat Geo: What is a no-take zone?

Nat Geo: What is a marine reserve? (video)

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