Expedition to Isla Isabel

Situated just 15 miles off of Mexico’s Nayarit coast in southern Mexico is the small volcanic island of Isla Isabel. Sometimes referred to as Mexico’s Galapagos, Isla Isabel is a unique jewel in the Mexican Pacific.

The isolated island is home to over 30,000 nesting birds, an abundance of reptiles, and diverse underwater wildlife.

On a recent expedition to the island with Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (CONANP), WILDCOAST documented a diversity and abundance of fish around the island.

“Being on the island was an incredible experience,” said WILDCOAST Mexico

Director Dr. Eduardo Najera. “The island wildlife was stunning in its abundance, but I was saddened to see the deterioration of the coral ecosystems surrounding Isla Isabel.”

Important to the island are its surrounding coral reefs. They provide habitat for fish and other wildlife and help buffer the island against storms and sea level rise. Isla Isabel National Park is one of seven protected areas in the Mexican Pacific with living corals.

Unfortunately corals surrounding the island are not in good condition. Local fishermen and park staff note the extremely warm water temperatures of recent years as a potential reason behind the die off. WILDCOAST will be investigating how we can help to address this situation.

WILDCOAST’s Coral Reef Program is dedicated to the conservation of reefs like that of Isla Isabela. Corals can be damaged from a number of sources including sedimentation, direct human impacts such as anchoring boats, handling, and sunscreens with oxybenzone or octinoxate, overfishing, warming oceans, ocean acidification and a number of other threats.

Coral reefs around the world are at risk of destruction and extinction. If we go about business as usual, corals face potential total extinction in the next 100 years.

Part of our program–in addition to addressing the root causes of coral reef destruction through mooring systems, outreach, direct ecosystem conservation, and protected area management —includes coral reef monitoring across seven protected areas in partnership with CONANP (including Isla Isabel).

The WILDCOAST team is gathering information on coverage, condition, and other aspects, in order to better understand and address threats. We are using the region’s first standardized coral monitoring protocol, developed by WILDCOAST and CONANP in 2016.

This protocol is being implemented across the network and will help guide conservation and protected area management in some of Mexico’s and the world’s most incredible ocean habitats.

To help support our work to protect coral reefs and Mexico’s Pacific coastline please donate today and share this story with your friends, family and colleagues.