Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Alacranes Reef Expedition

As is the case with expeditions, as hard as I try not to procrastinate, still, it seems like all of the important stuff doesn’t get done till the last minute. I’m sitting here in an internet cafe feverishly writing e-mails, ordering items, and researching the destination that I’ll be leaving for in only 9 days. I’m going to the Alacranes reef in the Gulf of Mexico.

I’ve been asked to photograph the Alacranes reef by the “International League of Conservation Photographers.” A group that I’ve been peripherally involved with up until this expedition

They are sending me to this endangered reef 65 miles north of the Yucatan Peninsula to document the marine ecosystem. With the photos, we will be petitioning to create a greater level of protection for this still emerging reef platform.

The Alacranes is the largest barrier reef system in the Gulf of Mexico, and is still growing. With the warming of the ocean, the virtually unheeded fishing, and believe it or not toxins from people cleaning their boats on the Island, the reef has been under steady attack. There is another connection I’ll be trying to make.

I’ve contacted the group “Island Conservation” that works out of the marine labs here in Santa Cruz, CA and have offered to gather data while I’m on the Island. Island Conservation has suggested that I research the magnitude of the effect invasive species like rats have had on the Island.

There is a connection which will be very difficult to make photographically, between the rats with their diet of seabird eggs, and the fertilization of the reef by seabird droppings.
The rats eat the eggs and lessen the number of seabirds, and the reef gets less fertilization. Over time, the effects can be catastrophic.

This expedition is another example of using photography to back up the scientific data which in the end will create a greater conservation effort for an area that is mostly ignored.

I will be blogging from the Island, and hope to upload at least a few photographs every few days.

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