The Lab Project
VENTANA DEL MAR: An Independent Marine Laboratory on The East Cape of Baja California Sur
Envisioned by MioSah (The Mendocino Institute of Science & History and it’s director, Urmas Kaldveer, Ph.D.)
The East Cape of the Baja California Sur Peninsula has been recognized for years as a unique and endangered bioregion in The Sea of Cortez. Not only does it have the only hard coral reef (Cabo Pulmo) at these latitudes but also is one of the most important breeding and calving grounds for at least two of the great whales (The Blue and The Humpback). More than a dozen other Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) reside in this region at various times of year.
The region has also become a tourist Mecca with vast development actively supported by The Mexican Government and utilized primarily by citizens from The United States. The continually increasing pressure in the form of boat traffic, fishing (commercial & sport), land development (sedimentation) and other human activities has resulted in a very serious degradation of the regions unique and valuable ecosystems.
The area between Cabo San Lucas and the more northern area around Loreto is particularly rich in species and their unique ecosystems. As such it is also most endangered and in need of study and protection. A marine sanctuary has been created to protect the reef at Cabo Pulmo (Parque Marino National Cabo Pulmo) and there is another sanctuary protecting a large area around Loreto (Parque Marino National Bahia de Loreto). The necessary resources to study these areas and the region between them are limited. Not because of lack of desire but because of financial and staff restraints (not dissimilar to a world wide lack of understanding of the significance of this type of research) and the enormity of the problem.
The concept is to establish a marine laboratory in the village of El Cardonal that is located midway between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz. This region is particularly important for breeding and calving Humpbacks as well as passing Blue Whales on their way to Loreto where their major breeding and calving grounds exist. El Cardonal is close to Cabo Pulmo and has a number of in shore coral reef heads in the area that are also endangered. MioSah research over the past 4 years indicates that the area is a very important breeding and calving ground for The Humpbacks.
The laboratory would be open to all investigators and their students as well as act as an educational center for the recruiting and training of Mexican youth in The Marine Sciences. It would be run on a non-profit but “pay for itself” basis and maintain a permanent staff of 2-3 individuals who would organize and direct activities as well as recruit researchers from around the world. At present the proposed site plan allows for a visiting population of 12 researchers and has facilities for wet lab, computer lab, holding tanks, lecture room etc. The proposed cost including land purchase would be between $500-750,000. It would be a small laboratory since a good deal, if not most, of the work done in Marine Sciences takes place in the field; the laboratory acting as an onsite station providing basic technical support systems.
Dr. Jorge Urban (Director de Investigacion de Mamiferos Marinas, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur) and Richard Sears (Director of Mingan Island Cetacean Study Inc) have indicated their wholehearted support for the success of this venture and would both be involved in the laboratory’s development and use. Dr. Urban is a world-renowned researcher of Humpback Whales, a member of The World Whaling Commission and a professor at the university in La Paz. Richard Sears is equally well known for his 20 years of Blue Whale studies in both The Pacific and Atlantic. MioSah has been working in collaboration with these two men since 2004. Dr. Kaldveer met this year (2008) with Carlos Narro, Director of CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas) to discuss the above plans. It was agreed at that time that mioSah and CONAP should begin working together in 2009 to accomplish our mutual goals.
MioSah is looking for individual donations that will begin the process of land acquisition, planning and design. MioSah director, Urmas Kaldveer, worked at The Univ. of California Bodega Marine Lab for 2 years, developed the biology and chemistry labs for Mendocino College in Northern California and worked for 5 years as a graduate assistant in the Medical Microbiology laboratory at The University of Arizona, Tucson. He has also been a professor of Natural and Physical Sciences at Mendocino College for 30 years. More information about Dr. Kaldveer and MioSah is available online at www.urmaskaldveer.com.