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“Grupo Lobos” fishermen, who promote environmental awareness throughout the community and the conservation of Isla San Jorge (Bird Island), are part of an ongoing biological monitoring program of islands within the Gulf of California.
Grupo Lobos has been monitoring sea lions in order to evaluate their health conditions and population growth, along with variability of eating habits. Their work comes with support from the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO), the National Commission on Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), and the Research on Feed and Development Center (CIAD).
The study encompasses the counting of California sea lions (zalophus californianus) in various categories (gender, age), as well as the weighing and measuring of sea lion cubs, while obtaining biological samples such as hair, skin, and whiskers before returning the young cubs back.
The monitoring of California sea lions began regionally in 2011 under the program “Gulf of California Islands” Flora and Fauna Protection Area. This year, monitoring of the California sea lions at Isla San Jorge took place in late July.
Among the commitments of the institutions supporting the project, as well as of the fishermen themselves, is continued training and sharing of results from the counting of sea lions, as well as the conservation and protection of the species.
A press release issued by CEDO explains the California sea lion is the only pinniped species (“finned-feet”) residing in the Gulf of California, where there are 13 reproductive colonies. Since these sea lions can live from 10 to 22 years, and also return to areas where they were born or where they mate, and are permanent residents on the Islands of the Gulf of California, they can provide tremendous information as to any changes within the ecosystem.
It is worth noting some tourism companies in Puerto Peñasco currently lead tours to areas such as Isla San Jorge (Bird Island) where visitors and residents alike can enjoy watching sea lions here in the Sea of Cortez.