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The Gulf of California

biodiversity and conservation

Edited by Richard C. Brusca

Publication Year: 2010

Few places in the world can claim such a diversity of species as the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), with its 6,000 recorded animal species estimated to be half the number actually living in its waters. So rich are the Gulf’s waters that over a half-million tons of seafood are taken from them annually—and this figure does not count the wasted by-catch, which would triple or quadruple that tonnage. This timely book provides a benchmark for understanding the Gulf’s extraordinary diversity, how it is threatened, and in what ways it is—or should be—protected.

In spite of its dazzling richness, most of the Gulf’s coastline now harbors but a pale shadow of the diversity that existed just a half-century ago. Recommendations based on sound, careful science must guide Mexico in moving forward to protect the Gulf of California.

This edited volume contains contributions by twenty-four Gulf of California experts, from both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border. From the origins of the Gulf to its physical and chemical characteristics, from urgently needed conservation alternatives for fisheries and the entire Gulf ecosystem to information about its invertebrates, fishes, cetaceans, and sea turtles, this thought-provoking book provides new insights and clear paths to achieve sustainable use solidly based on robust science. The interdisciplinary, international cooperation involved in creating this much-needed collection provides a model for achieving success in answering critically important questions about a precious but rapidly disappearing ecological treasure.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page

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pp. iii-

Copyright

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pp. iv-

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xi

Every person should spend at least one night a month out in the open under the stars, to clean his soul of all arrogance. The Silesian poet and novelist J. von Eichendorff wrote these words nearly two hundred years ago, and today— when arrogance seems to rule every aspect of the human universe—they are more true than ever...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

One cannot visit the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) without recognizing its remarkable and singular nature (color plate 1).1 The accumulation of species diversity since the Gulf ’s opening ∼5.6 million years ago has produced one of the most biologically rich marine regions on earth...

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1. Origin, Age, and Geological Evolution of the Gulf of California

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pp. 7-23

The present-day topography of the Baja California peninsula evolved through a series of tumultuous geological events that began many millions of years ago (Ma). Between 130 and 90 Ma, during the Cretaceous Period, a sea-floor crustal plate (the Farallon Plate) in the eastern Pacific...

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2. Physical, Chemical, and Biological Oceanography of the Gulf of California

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pp. 24-48

The Gulf of California is a dynamic marginal sea of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Today, nutrient input to the Gulf from rivers is very small and has only local coastal effects. The Gulf has three main natural fertilization mechanisms: wind-induced upwelling, tidal mixing, and water exchange...

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3. Reefs That Rock and Roll: Biology and Conservation of Rhodolith Beds in the Gulf of California

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pp. 49-71

Imagine an underwater field of closely packed, purple-pink spheres about the size of golf balls, each composed of numerous calcareous branches radiating out from the center of the sphere. The spheres and hundreds of species of animals and seaweeds living on and in them move with the motion of waves and currents...

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4. Invertebrate Biodiversity and Conservation in the Gulf of California

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pp. 72-95

An analysis of the Macrofauna Golfo invertebrate database indicates that the Gulf is home to over 4,900 species of named and described invertebrates. This is estimated to be about 70 percent of the actual invertebrate fauna of the Gulf of California. The most poorly known regions...

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5. Fishes of the Gulf of California

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pp. 96-118

The Gulf of California has a rich history of exploration and scientific discovery, and its fishes have been an important part of that history. The first major oceanographic expeditions collecting fishes in the Gulf were conducted by the U.S. Fish Commission steamer...

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6. The Importance of Fisheries in the Gulf of California and Ecosystem-Based Sustainable Co-Management for Conservation

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pp. 119-134

The waters of the Gulf of California are well known for their high productivity, which results from a complex array of physiographic and oceanographic attributes. This high year-round productivity supports large populations of sea birds, marine turtles and marine mammals; it also supports...

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7. Sea Turtles of the Gulf of California: Biology, Culture, and Conservation

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pp. 135-167

The productive waters of the Gulf of California provide important feeding and developmental habitats for five of the world’s seven sea turtle species. The most abundant species in coastal waters is the green turtle, known locally as the black turtle...

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8. Ospreys of the Gulf of California: Ecology and Conservation Status

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pp. 168-187

The Gulf of California and Pacifi c coast of the Baja California peninsula harbor a large year-round resident population of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus). The eastern coast of the Gulf of California also corresponds to a fall migration route for ospreys breeding in the western United States...

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9. Marine Mammals of the Gulf of California: An Overview of Diversity and Conservation Status

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pp. 188-209

Interest in the study of Mexican marine mammals dates from the mid-nineteenth century, a result of their commercial exploitation. Nevertheless, until the 1970s scientific studies of the marine mammals of Mexico were infrequent and mainly limited to occasional observations by American...

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10. A Brief Natural History of Algae in the Gulf of California

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pp. 210-218

The marine algae of the Gulf of California are a diverse assemblage of more than 300 subtropical, tropical, and temperate species that are subject to a diverse range of physical circumstances, including: a wide range of seasonal temperatures, extreme tidal fluctuations (especially pronounced...

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11. Ecological Conservation in the Gulf of California

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pp. 219-250

With an immense biological richness and high marine productivity, the Gulf of California (Mar de Cortés, Sea of Cortez) is both a large marine ecosystem of high global conservation priority and a region that faces growing threats—mostly as a result of overfishing and significant degradation...

Bibliography

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pp. 251-330

About the Contributors

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pp. 331-336

Index

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pp. 337-354


E-ISBN-13: 9780816502752
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816503568

Publication Year: 2010