RANCHITO BAJAJAJA SCIENCE & EDUCATION CENTER San Juanico, BCS, Mexico
The community of San Juanico (Scorpion Bay) is uniquely situated on the Pacific Coast of Baja California, just south of the largest protected area in Latin America. Surrounded by massive coastal dune systems, and between two protected lagoons, Scorpion Bay (San Juanico) is haven for wildlife but is perhaps more famous for it's seven right surf breaks. A destination for surfers worldwide, we want to raise awareness within the local fishing community and global surfing community about just how special this place is.
Our northern neighbor (20km), El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve is Mexico's largest protected area. Within it the Mexican government has set aside 16 core areas for special protection. These include islands with hundreds of elephant seals, herds of sea lions, nesting petrels and other seabirds, and 10,000-foot (3,050-m) mountains with bighorn sheep. There are more than 400 prehistoric sites of importance on the Vizcaino peninsula, as well as petroglyphs, wall paintings and ancient ruined structures.
Vizcaino’s varied altitudes, climates, and habitat in relative isolation over millions of years have given it interesting, often unique biota—imperial eagles, black and peregrine falcons, magnificent frigate birds, brown and white pelicans, giant Mexican cereus cactus, bobcats, mountain lions. Of 38 mammals, 15 are endemic.
Dense zooplankton riding the California coastal current attracts a broad seagoing wildlife spectrum including four species of endangered sea turtles and 60 kinds of seabirds. The area includes three lagoons that are recognized as the World's most important place for the reproduction of the once endangered Eastern subpopulation of the North Pacific Grey Whale. They also shelter harbour seals, California sea lions, and northern elephant seals. Three other whale species are here—killers, humpbacks, and blues.
Despite all of this, Baja, the Vizcaino, and it’s biodiversity are under threat. Over 35,000 people (2000) live within the Biosphere reserve, of which 52% in rural communities (including seasonal fishing camps), and even more live in surrounding communities. The principal economic activities include agriculture, fishing, and livestock grazing, though ecotourism in the region is on the rise. However, the loss of biodiversity is predicted to become increasingly severe as development, overpopulation, climate change, and pollution increase. The impact this will have on the communities and the biodiversity will be catastrophic.
We need to act now to make informed decisions about how to preserve these resources, and to educate future generations of environmental stewards. Our research station will enable local ecotourism and sustainable development through education, while providing access and research space to researchers allowing them to conduct valuable biodiversity research in the region, initiate community conservation projects, and provide education to visitors.