August 2010 Archives

We are all familiar with the major actors in the global conservation movement. Large international organizations have become household names as the pressing need for global environmental action has become part of our social dialogue. These institutions, along with many other non-profits, government agencies, and other international bodies, have been vital to the conservation of the world's precious ecosystems and biodiversity that have been under regular threat from the development of the human species. Whether through influencing domestic or international policy, or the creation and management of protected areas on land and in our oceans, these global organizations play a key role in protecting the environment and the world's biodiversity through a variety of essential approaches.

However, there are other actors - smaller actors - that have just as important a role in the conservation movement as any of the giant organizations. These are the local, indigenous communities themselves. Communities that live in tandem with the environment around them, and have done so for centuries, often make the best conservationists. Throughout the world, indigenous peoples have come to rely upon their local biodiversity as an essential component to their culture, economy, and sustenance. They thus have a real stake in the preservation of their environment, and for generations have managed their natural resources before there were any formal conservation systems in place.

Seacology's project at Mt. Elimbari, Chimbu Province in Papua New Guinea funded the construction of a literacy school for the Gaigibi community in support of the establishment of a 25-acre community conserved forest area

Tragic Fire in Madeira


Though in some ecosystems, forest fires can be a necessary element of the ecology, fires are often devastating events that can destroy the homes of humans as well as wildlife. Tragically, Seacology's project in Madeira recently suffered the effects of a forest fire, as seen in the photos below. 

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Whale Sharks In Mexico

Next time you are in Mexico and someone asks you to play with dominoes, you may be in for a very large surprise.  Due to the many white spots that mark their gray bodies, in Mexico the common nickname for  whale sharks is "dominoes."  Indeed these gentle giants do resemble dominoes - very, very large ones, that is.  At up to 48 feet in length and weighing up to 25 tons, whale sharks, or Rhincodon Typus as they are known to scientists, are the world's largest fish.  Despite their enormous size, comparatively little is known about them.  One of the reasons for this is that there are not large numbers of them left in the oceans and for much of the year they are solitary animals.

Whaleshark0025.jpg Less than ten years ago, marine biologists discovered that during the months of June to September the world's largest aggregation of whale sharks takes place off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.  In recent years they can be found north of Isla Mujeres, a small island just off the coast of Cancun.  A smaller number can also be found off of Holbox Island near the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.  Whale Sharks are listed on the International Union of the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Red List of Vulnerable Species, meaning their future is in danger.

Seacology recently partnered with the Comcáac nation, a tribe of Native Americans living in the Gulf of California. One of the most distinct native tribes of Mexico, the Comcáac fled to the region in the early twentieth century when they faced persecution by the government. Today, the Comcáac inhabit Tiburón Island and nearby areas, maintaining the traditions and environment of their forefathers. Unfortunately, like many islands, Tiburón suffers from the problem of waste management. Its beaches are scattered with waste from both the island and the mainland, and the Comcáac community lacks the resources to properly dispose of the waste. Seacology is collaborating with them to address this problem, funding waste and recycling facilities as well as signage to educate the community and visitors about environmental and waste issues.

In exchange for Seacology's support, the Comcáacs will conserve both Tiburón and nearby Canal Infiernillo, which runs between the island and the mainland. The area provides one of the most intact examples of Sonoran Desert habitat, and it contains an abundance of species that are already rare or have disappeared from the mainland. The waters around this island host 34 marine mammal species, including sea lions, blue and fin whales and the world's most endangered cetacean, a small porpoise called the vaquita. Five species of sea turtles thrive in these waters, and green turtles nest on these beaches.

Seacology's Executive Director Duane Silverstein recently visited Tiburón with Field Representative Jose Angel Sanchez-Pacheco to meet the Comcáac and tour the island. Seacology's newest video tells the story of their visit, the history of the Comcáac, and Seacology's project on Tiburón