May 17, 2016 (Day 3)
An hour and a half, thirty miles of wind, and rough seas was all it took to get to Isla Rasa. The tide was flooding, which meant the access to the only viable landing was underwater. We circled the island hoping to find another option. We had to get creative to get the film crew off the boat, and get all the camera, sound, and filming accessories off without getting them wet. To anyone watching, it must have been a show.
As Greg and JT stepped off the boat, thousands of birds took to flight. At times it was difficult to hear one another over the noise of their calls. On this particular island (about one square mile) three main species of seabirds nest and mate here. In fact, nearly 90% of the world’s Elegant Terns and Heermann’s gulls breed on this island. The third bird species is the Royal Tern. The terns were not breeding. They did not show up this year and there may be a good reason. Climate change and the rise in sea temperatures as well as overfishing may have interrupted their food supply and they were forced to move elsewhere to breed, lay eggs, and raise their chicks.
Though Nelson and Goldman did not visit Bahia de Los Angeles or its outlying islands, we wanted to highlight the importance of this tiny island. It was the first Gulf of California island to become a wildlife preserve. In the late 1950s and 1960s, scientists recognized its importance as a seabird breeding colony and in the early 1970s it was official. Early visitors collected the massive guano deposits and gathered thousands of eggs to feed hungry miners and residents around the gulf. This had a major impact on the bird’s ability to reproduce and sustain its population.
We arrived back safely, but with only one issue: the T-top on the Zodiac cracked partially through one of the four posts. Tomorrow will require a stop in Guerrero Negro for repairs before we can continue.