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Baja California Information Pages

Stories by Mike Humfreville

Saving Baja    ( Posted January 6, 2004 )

I have already mentioned several places (Fred's board/Baja With Mike/Whale Watching 101, etc.) the story about Rubi from Laguna San Ignacio who is busy in her sea turtle conservation program, where she had been trained and then re-introduced into her small rural community to help the local fishermen understand the need for a "balancing act" between humans and other elements of nature. But I haven't told other aspects of the story. On our recent trip to Bahia de Los Angeles several events occurred that are worth mentioning and are related to conservation.

On entering town our first evening there we stopped at Las Hamacas for dinner before heading out to camp. Mary Ann and I shared an order of pescado empanizado with each other and a small conversation with several others. One friend told us that Carolina was showing Ocean Oasis two nights over the coming week. We attended on the first opportunity and watched this great movie from the very place where most of it was filmed. The musical score and the wonderful cinematography worked together to make more complex my love for Baja California and her magnificent displays of nature. It made me want to freeze-frame and shrink-wrap the peninsula.

The next day we went with some friends out to Antonio's turtle sanctuary. He happened to be there and a crowd had gathered so he launched into a presentation supported by printed slides and viewgraphs that discussed the lives of Leatherback turtles whom originate in Asia and migrate for a time to Mexico because food is so prevalent there. The Leatherbacks cross the Pacific Ocean to eat. Imagine that. After a few years they head home again, to reproduce and then whisper into their children's ears about the magic of Baja. This information fills me with respect for a beast that is such a navigator, an animal we think of as non-thinking who can swim the largest ocean and back again just to feed for a few teenage years. How could we not respect that?

A few nights before we left the village at Bahia, we had dinner in our truck, parked at the village plaza. It was cold and almost raining and Mary Ann waited in Vaca Blanca while I shivered and ordered Mexican hot dogs at Rainas taco stand. I was asking them how they were enjoying the bay; they had transported themselves across the Gulf of California three years ago in search of employment. They were happy to have found the tiny village. As conversation slowed I noticed a small brochure, about 5 by 7 inches and 10 pages thick. It was positioned prominently in their small ordering window and I picked it up, started to thumb idly through it, until I caught the full impact of the document. It carried a message regarding the conservation of sea turtles. While it was written in Spanish and I could understand most but not all of it, it was obviously written at a child's level but meant for everyone. It seemed to be developed there in Bahia de Los Angeles, although I can't say for certain. But the message was direct. Save the turtles and mostly words stating why we needed to do so. There were two hand-drawn pictures in the beginning of the brochure. The first was a group of children holding hands. Above were simple words about the innocence of children. The second illustration was one of turtles rather than children. The words above were similar. Perhaps our children actually will save the world. If we can't manage it.

There are many more examples of how the people of Baja California are becoming aware and working toward conservation. A larger example might be in the new fishing conservation plan that was passed just recently. I don't personally understand it yet, but when I've asked others they feel it is a well-intended act to support the limited fishing of areas so that the balance between local residents and fish population rebuilding are working together.

If you sit on a quiet beach along the shores of the peninsula you will certainly witness death. But then, if you watch long enough, you will observe that even in death there is a delicate balance in nature. The small beast, destroyed, will sponsor many other forms of animal and plant life. There is no waste. Only perfection and a singularity with all.

Copyright 2003-2006 Mike Humfreville

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