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Unprecedented Fish Recovery at the Southern Tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula

The world's most robust marine reserve is at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, according to a new study led by WWF Kathryn Fuller Fellow, Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, a post-doctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

A 10-year analysis of Cabo Pulmo National Park, at the Gulf of California, Mexico, shows that the total amount of fish in the reserve ecosystem grew by more than 460 percent from 1999 to 2009. Citizens living around Cabo Pulmo established the park in 1995 and have firmly enforced its fishing restrictions to stop the depletion of fish.

The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, is an important reproduction, feeding and breeding area for at least 6,000 species including:

  • 891 fish
  • 181 birds
  • 34 marine mammals
  • seven marine reptiles

Aburto-Oropeza’s research is supported by WWF’s Kathryn Fuller Fellowship program which helps advance scientific research on issues of importance and relevance to conservation.

"The study's results are surprising in several ways," said Aburto-Oropeza. "A biomass increase of 463 percent in a reserve as large as Cabo Pulmo (27 square miles) represents tons of new fish produced every year. No other marine reserve in the world has shown such a fish recovery."