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Mexican marine reserve breaks record for fauna recovery
[August 13, 2011]

Mexican marine reserve breaks record for fauna recovery

Washington, Aug 13, 2011 (EFE via COMTEX) -- The marine reserve at Cabo Pulmo National Park in Baja California, Mexico, has broken all records for fauna recovery as the number of fish quadrupled there over the last 10 years.

The impressive results appear in a study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, published in the Public Library of Science magazine, which analyzes the evolution of the reserve's ecosystem between 1999-2009.

Until 1995, the reef at Cabo Pulmo suffered from intense overfishing, but in that year local inhabitants were able to get the park incorporated into the National Protected Areas System.

Between 1999 and 2009, the number of fish in the reserve grew 460 percent thanks to the regulation of the area and the protection of areas where large predators reproduce, an important point according to the Scripps Institution, which states on its Web site that the "loss of large predators has caused widespread disruption of ecosystems." The reserve also doubled the number of species on the reef to become a park of high biodiversity - in 1999 there were only medium-sized fish to be found, but today large species including parrotfish, groupers, red snappers and even sharks abound.

For the authors of the study, what is most important is that their research shows that fauna of an overfished reef can bounce back to the same richness in numbers and variety as that on reefs that have never been fished.

The recovery of marine life at Cabo Pulmo is also contributing to the economy of the area by generating ecotourism enterprises such as scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking around the reefs.

The UCSD researchers hope that the recovery of Cabo Pulmo will serve as an example and motivation for the conservation of other marine ecosystems. EFE cg/cd

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