• Adriana Hernández Alvarez

    Mexico: Protecting Red Knots and grunion sardines in the Gulfo de Santa Clara

  • Adriana Hernández Alvarez

    Mexico: Protecting Red Knots and grunion sardines in the Gulfo de Santa Clara

  • Adriana Hernández Alvarez

    Mexico: Protecting Red Knots and grunion sardines in the Gulfo de Santa Clara

  • Adriana Hernández Alvarez

    Mexico: Protecting Red Knots and grunion sardines in the Gulfo de Santa Clara

  • Adriana Hernández Alvarez

    Mexico: Protecting Red Knots and grunion sardines in the Gulfo de Santa Clara

In Brief

Location:

Areas of tidal beach SE of the town of Santa Clara in Sonora, Mexico.

Goal:

To prevent the extinction of the endemic Gulf Grunion and the threatened Red Knot (roselaari) at this critically important migratory staging area.

Conservation Value:

This unique location is home to a natural spectacle each spring that has occurred where the mighty Colorado River forms a delta in the upper reaches of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) for millennia.  Along this shore millions of endemic Gulf Grunion sardines lay their eggs in the wet sand between February and May, which provides a critical food resource to the now threatened Pacific Red Knot during its spring migration.  Up to 9,300 Red Knots have been seen at one time which represents 44 percent of the population of the entire Pacific Red Knot.

Threats:

The spring presence of the Pacific Red Knot in the Golfo de Santa Clara, unfortunately, coincides with the very popular beach holiday in Mexico called Semana Santa (Holy Week).  Thousands of American and Mexican tourists flock to these beaches to camp, enjoy the beach, and party.  Trucks and all forms of four-wheel drive vehicles conduct races on the beach and in 2018 alone 6 people died and 16 were severely wounded.  People also harvest thousands of the grunions and there is very little oversight or regulation due to the economic boon to the region.

Actions & Results:

In 2018 Pronatura Noroeste organized and trained a group of local women to begin an outreach campaign about the shorebirds and their conservation needs.  This enthusiastic group was self-named Las Pejerreinas or “Grunion Queens.” and their campaign was launched during the 2019 Holy Week. The Pejerreinas set-up a large white tent with interpretive displays, they wore light blue t-shirts to be identified easily on the beach-front as the guardiabs of the birds and grunions, and they patrolled 4 kilometers of beach marked with with orange highway cones and yellow tape.  The campaign interacted with 32,000 beach-goers and the mostly unregulated activities.  These very dedicated women aimed to reduce the annual impacts and disturbance and establish a new and positive change in attitudes toward shorebird conservation.  Based upon their interviews and questionnaires the first year's campaign was highly successful.  ICFC has now joined their efforts to support and expand their work in 2020.

Project Field Partner:

Pronatura Noroeste

Size of Area Involved:

Tidal beach front within a 10-km area SE of Santa Clara.

Cost:

ICFC 2020 Budget US $15,000

In More Depth...

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