Mexico Announces Expansion of Revillagigedos Marine Park
The Revillagigedo archipelago is home to many rays, sharks and other marine and bird life.
Alejandro Del Mazo Maza, representing Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, announced a massive expansion of the Revillagigedo marine park at the Our Ocean conference in Malta.
The park will cover more than 57,000 square miles, a vast swath of Pacific Ocean that encompasses the four Revillagigedo Islands, small volcanic landmasses under Mexico's control that lie about 240 miles southwest of Baja California. The islands are uninhabited except for a small Mexican naval presence. and were named a World Heritage Site in 2016 for their unique biodiversity, including sharks, rays and whales.
“With the goal of guaranteeing maximum protection of this World Heritage Site, our national legislation’s strongest conservation category will be used, and all forms of fishing will be prohibited,” Del Mazo said in a statement. He also said that Mexico will not permit the construction of hotel facilities on the islands.
The Revillagigedos are located 240 miles off Mexico's Baja peninsula.
Previously, the islands had been protected by a small reserve that extended only six miles off the land. According to the National Geographic, that left important feeding and migration areas for sharks, rays, whales, and other species open to fishermen who either intentionally or unintentionally catch these animals.
"This is the wildest place in tropical North America," says Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who led a Pristine Seas fact-finding expedition to the area in March 2016. "It’s one of the places where you can see the most giant manta rays and sharks on the planet."
The Revillagigedos, which is a popular scuba-diving location, are uninhabited.
The reserve is the newest marine park that Sala and his Pristine Seas initiative at National Geographic helped etablish. Over the past few years, the project has helped governments around the world establish 16 new reserves, covering some two million square miles of ocean. The Revillagigedo reserve will mark Pristine Seas' 17th reserve.
The Revillagigedo Islands include Socorro, Roca Partida, San Benedicto and Clarion. These islands are a special place that we should preserve and protect not only for Mexico but for the entire world," says underwater photo pro David Valencia, who frequently photographs the marine-life beauty in these waters.