Now that I have returned to my home base, this is the period where I must make sense of everything that I have filmed and learned over the last month. The most significant realization is how pressing the fate of the Vaquita is. Just this week, the CIRVA report that I was capturing in the making while in San Diego at the end of May has been released. The results from this report are dismal with the current population estimates below 50 individuals. This information derives from the detections that are recorded from the acoustic monitoring devices “sea pods”. Time is ticking at the expense of the vaquita and we need to ensure over the next two years (and beyond) that the vaquita have some breathing room to recover. This means sustained strict enforcement in this region by the Mexican Navy. Although it is comforting to know that the recent protection measures for the vaquita have been implemented, we must acknowledge the potential for illegal fishing activities during the shrimp season, and even more importantly for the totoaba season. There is a great deal of money that can be made fishing for the totoaba swim bladders and it is common for illegal activities to continue, even when there are governing laws in place. When the shrimp and totoaba seasons begin, enforcement will have to be much tighter than it is currently. The Vaquita Refuge area needs stringent monitoring and this policing will need to take place day and night in order to be the most effective.
During my final day of filming we were very fortunate to partner with LightHawk. LightHawk http://www.lighthawk.org is a non-profit that offers flights to accelerate conservation efforts. Their unique mission and charitable contribution provided a fantastic opportunity to capture the Biosphere Reserve and the home for the vaquita from the skies. The aerial perspective is more truthful to the landscape. As you gaze outward and see where the Colorado River meets the Upper Gulf of California, knowing that this river is fueling the sea with nutrients that support a plethora of marine life is quite a spectacle.
In closing I want to remind everyone that there are 7 days left of our Kickstarter Campaign. We are so close to reaching our goal and this is not the time to run out of steam when the prize is in sight. We need everyone to continue to share this fundraiser so we reach more people and ensure success. Please contact the folks that you have already reached out to that may have not made a pledge yet and continue to share with friends, family and organizations that your are affiliated with. This project is only going to maintain its momentum if we reach our goal. I would also like to mention that we would like to reach our stretch goals as well which go beyond the 15K. These additional funds are necessary for us to tell the most important component of this story, which is the demand for totoaba swim bladders. It is crucial that we address this issue and have the funds to do so. It is truly wonderful to have received the amount of support that all of you have offered. This support is how change happens!
Tags: biosphere reserve, colorado river delta, fundraiser, kickstarter campaign, light hawk, san felipe, totoaba swim bladder, Vaquita, vaquita refuge