Sounds of the Vermilion Sea
It’s my first morning to watch the sun bring the sea to life. There’s a light breeze and the sand is cool on my feet. Everything is calm and I know the vaquita are out there. The sense of adventure and purpose is all over the next few days as I will be out trying to get a clearer understanding of what is unfolding in this community.
I was invited to participate and document the deployment of acoustic monitoring equipment inside the Vaquita Refuge. The crew consisted of Gustavo Cárdenas-Hinojosa, Coordinación de Investigación y Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos, Ramon Arozamena Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, and Claudia Cecilia Olimon, independent consultant for World Wildlife Fund . As soon as I past their test by repeating their organizations back to them, they allowed me in the panga. We set out to sea to install a series of 6 acoustic CPODS at assigned locations. As this process is time consuming the pods are distributed. A single panga is responsible for one series which can be up to 8 pods. The pods are moored to the sea floor where they record the echolocation chatter of vaquita, which will offer a population estimate. We will explore the acoustic monitoring process in a future presentation as it can be somewhat confusing to explain. All in all, these pods are responsible for giving us the most accurate number for individuals.
While deploying the pods we had quite a surprise that was a little intimidating, but reassuring as we were commanded to the side of a Mexican Navy combat vessel. What I mean by combat is that it had quite a hefty piece of artillery on the bow. We approached the ship and threw them our bow line as they began questioning what we were doing in the refuge. I can only image what they were thinking when we were tossing white PVC cylinders overboard that sunk below the surface. Not to mention, I have cameras all over my body (3 to be exact) filming the pods releases and the Navy ship in the background. Any military would be concerned when cameras are pointed at them. In a nut shell, they took our names and told us to get a move on. I will say, that this is an outstanding job by the Mexican Navy as they followed protocol and investigated a suspicious vessel such as ours. Kudos to the Navy of Mexico!
Tags: acoustic monitoring equipment, baja, conservation, gillnet ban, san felipe, sea of cortez, totoaba, Vaquita, Vermilion Sea