The Birds of Isla Rasa

Mares Mexicanos Isa Rasa, Voces del Mar

Two passionate scientists found an alternative to avoid the collapse of the sardine fishery and save the last populations of endangered birds threatened by a lack of food causes by uncontrolled fishing.

In Isla Rasa, nearly 100% of the population of Heermann’s Gull and Elegant Tern come to nest. In one of the most fascinating spectacles in the Gulf of California, half a million seabirds gather on a tiny island of less than 1 km².

In 1979 this great event caught the attention of the young biologist Enriqueta Velarde, who first visited the island to study birds at age 25. Since then, under her leadership, close monitoring of the birds is carried out every year. Thirty-five years later, the data obtained has revolutionized the way we understand the oceans.

With the information gathered about the birds’ feeding tendencies, Dr. Enriqueta Velarde, in collaboration with Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, developed an innovative model that can predict the collapse of sardine stocks. In the Gulf of California sardine and other small pelagic species continue to be fished practically without limits. This information, now available to the fishing fleet and fishermen in the region, could help regulate the amount of fish that is extracted, preventing the collapse of the fisheries from overexploitation.