Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Isla Guadalupe's White Sharks: making Mexico aware of its natural resources

Mexico, like many Latin American countries, is a land with a rich history but facing many challenges in today's world. There are Mexican-based conservation organizations and government agencies in charge of overseeing the country's natural resources but on some issues the general populace is either in the dark or at least has not yet been propelled to care. Other priorities considered more fundamental seem to take precedence.

This past fall, I was approached by WildCoast/CoastaSalvaje to film the great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe for Televisa SA - one of the major Latin American networks. Televisa was planning a multi-part news piece on the island, providing Mexican viewers with an inside look at this marvelous place, shielded by the Mexican government as a protected biosphere. The end result was an interesting series that placed considerable focus on the white sharks that migrate to the island and the eco-tourism and research that takes place there.

The Mexican people need to appreciate the importance of white sharks as a key component in a healthy marine ecosystem and to know that Isla Guadalupe serves as a crucial migratory hub for a sizable portion of the eastern Pacific population of white sharks. Unfortunately, you can find caught juvenile white shark for sale in Ensenada fish markets (sometimes "mislabeled" as marlin or swordfish) and the loss of these juveniles along the Baja coast serves to only further impact the decline of this important ocean predator.

I came across the program on YouTube and so here are the show segments - albeit in Spanish. If you don't speak the language, you can get the gist from the images. I was assigned to provide the underwater footage and it was a bit challenging because on this trip my proximity was confined to the cages and the sharks, while plentiful, were being a bit coy.

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