World Heritage Sites – Laguna San Ignacio

The Laguna San Ignacio is a part of the El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve in the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Baja California. It is located in the Municipality of Mulege of the Mexican province of Baja California Sur. The nearest tourist destination is the town of San Ignacio on Mexican Federal Highway 1 (approximately sixty kilometers away). With about seven hundred permanent residents today, Juan Bautista de Luyando founded the oasis town as a Jesuit mission in 1728. For a slow, daytime only road trip, you can expect to spend a couple of days traveling nine hundred kilometers after heading south across the border at San Diego while following narrow, winding, and mountainous carreteras frequented by livestock and wildlife. The world is familiar with the resort town of Cabo San Lucas on the tip of Baja California and it is about eight hundred and fifty kilometers south of the lagoon. Air flights are the most popular ways to get close to the lagoon although travel by car, bus, and cruises provide other alternatives. Air travel destinations are more convenient and the closest are Guerrero Negro Airport (GUB) to the north and Loreto International Airport (LTO) to the south.

On the landside of the lagoon, the terrain is basaltic desert, indicating the volcanic past of the region. Towards San Ignacio, a lush growth of green date palms takes advantage of the oasis. There are several commercial endeavors underway but the continuing purpose of the town is to serve tourists and scientists as the gateway to the reserve. The lagoon (approximately 26 degrees north and 113 degrees west) is most famous for gray whale watching tours, often providing an opportunity to pet adult whales. Despite the desertification on land away from the salt water, the lagoon provides a rich environment for a wide variety of plants and animals on the shore and in the tropical Pacific Ocean water.

The World Heritage Site includes fifty thousand hectares of the surrounding landmass as a biosphere reserve. The 1994 desalinization factory plans initiated by the Mitsubishi Corporation mobilized activism by local residents and world organizations. National and international interests in keeping large developments from this wilderness have cited lush biological diversity and the uniqueness of the lagoon. For many, the importance of the lagoon for the birthing and early life of gray whale calves is paramount. Experts point to the lagoon as the only place on earth where gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are safe to recover as a species. This eastern North Pacific population numbers about 22,000 individuals and ecologists removed this subspecies from the endangered species list in recent decades. Populations in the Atlantic went extinct about three hundred years ago. Whalers still pursue the endangered western North Pacific population and their numbers are less than four hundred individuals.

Inside Mexico, various government bureaucracies protect local and national interests. The desalinization programs offer commercial rewards from the sales of both water and salt. The sunny locale requires industrial level development to control water flow, adding to irrigation efforts, and salt recovery operations. Dredging and staffing are two of the main aspects of the development that have raised concerns. Strict environmental controls implemented by the government include the rare step of involving international scientific interests in the reports used to plan future resource use. This is a continuing effort on all sides to make decisions about the best use of both land and sea in the area.

Because the area is so isolated, the tourist industry is small but growing. In this isolation, the gray whales successfully mate and are able to birth calves. With little ship traffic or noise from land-based industry, the whales seem to thrive. The whales can be very dangerous since they can grow to fifteen meters long and almost forty tonnes. There have been incidents where whales have damaged or destroyed boats but in the lagoon, most reports show the whales are at their most gregarious and friendly. While they still face the danger of fishing equipment entanglement, the more time they spend at the lagoon, the more likely they are to be friendly towards tourists.

Outlawed for decades, many nations ignore the international agreements prohibiting whaling. In their own national waters, meat and oil have commercial demand. In the eastern Pacific Ocean, it appears that whales do not face this danger. Fishing lines and noise are major contraindications to building stronger whale populations on this coast. Based on rare sightings, some scientists believe that the eastern North Pacific population may have established renewed populations of gray whales in the Mediterranean and Africa. So far, the remoteness of the region has ameliorated exploitation by the tourist industry. Some might point out that tourist travel is an environmental issue but that remains a wider concern than can be solved by biosphere reserves.

The El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve remains valuable in protecting and developing this region. The requirements of the Mexican government and their attentions to the international community are laudable. Keep your eyes on the important, continuing efforts to protect the wilderness and provide opportunities for human economic growth in the region. The El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is making its contribution to the current situation and the future development of this area of Baja California.

Society: Arts and Science – April 4

The Laguna San Ignacio is a part of the El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve in the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Baja California. It is located in the Municipality of Mulege of the Mexican province of Baja California Sur. The nearest tourist destination is the town of San Ignacio on Mexican Federal Highway 1 (approximately sixty kilometres away). With about seven hundred permanent residents today, Juan Bautista de Luyando founded the oasis town as a Jesuit mission in 1728. For a slow, daytime only road trip, you can expect to spend a couple of days travelling nine hundred kilometres after heading south across the border to San Diego while following narrow, winding, and mountainous carreteras frequented by livestock and wildlife. The world is familiar with the resort town of Cabo San Lucas on the tip of Baja California and it is about eight hundred and fifty kilometres south of the lagoon. Air flights are the most popular ways to get close to the lagoon although travel by car, bus, and cruises provide other alternatives. Air travel destinations are more convenient and the closest are Guerrero Negro Airport (GUB) to the north and Loreto International Airport (LTO) to the south.
On the landside of the lagoon, the terrain is basaltic desert, indicating the volcanic past of the region. Towards San Ignacio, a lush growth of green date palms takes advantage of the oasis. There are several commercial endeavours underway but the continuing purpose of the town is to serve tourists and scientists as the gateway to the reserve. The lagoon (approximately 26 degrees north and 113 degrees west) is most famous for grey whale watching tours, often providing an opportunity to pet adult whales. Despite the desertification on land away from the salt water, the lagoon provides a rich environment for a wide variety of plants and animals on the shore and in the tropical Pacific Ocean water.
The World Heritage Site includes fifty thousand hectares of the surrounding landmass as a biosphere reserve. The 1994 desalinization factory plans initiated by the Mitsubishi Corporation mobilised activism by local residents and world organisations. National and international interests in keeping large developments from this wilderness have cited lush biological diversity and the uniqueness of the lagoon. For many, the importance of the lagoon for the birthing and early life of grey whale calves is paramount. Experts point to the lagoon as the only place on earth where grey whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are safe to recover as a species. This eastern North Pacific population numbers about 22,000 individuals and ecologists removed this subspecies from the endangered species list in recent decades. Populations in the Atlantic went extinct about three hundred years ago. Whalers still pursue the endangered western North Pacific population and their numbers are less than four hundred individuals.
Inside Mexico, various government bureaucracies protect local and national interests. The desalinization programs offer commercial rewards from the sales of both water and salt. The sunny locale requires industrial level development to control water flow, adding to irrigation efforts, and salt recovery operations. Dredging and staffing are two of the main aspects of the development that have raised concerns. Strict environmental controls implemented by the government include the rare step of involving international scientific interests in the reports used to plan future resource use. This is a continuing effort on all sides to make decisions about the best use of both land and sea in the area.
Because the area is so isolated, the tourist industry is small but growing. In this isolation, the grey whales successfully mate and are able to birth calves. With little ship traffic or noise from land-based industry, the whales seem to thrive. The whales can be very dangerous since they can grow to fifteen meters long and almost forty tonnes. There have been incidents where whales have damaged or destroyed boats but in the lagoon, most reports show the whales are at their most gregarious and friendly. While they still face the danger of fishing equipment entanglement, the more time they spend at the lagoon, the more likely they are to be friendly towards tourists.
Outlawed for decades, many nations ignore the international agreements prohibiting whaling. In their own national waters, meat and oil have commercial demand. In the eastern Pacific Ocean, it appears that whales do not face this danger. Fishing lines and noise are major contraindications to building stronger whale populations on this coast. Based on rare sightings, some scientists believe that the eastern North Pacific population may have established renewed populations of grey whales in the Mediterranean and Africa. So far, the remoteness of the region has ameliorated exploitation by the tourist industry. Some might point out that tourist travel is an environmental issue but that remains a wider concern than can be solved by biosphere reserves.
The El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve remains valuable in protecting and developing this region. The requirements of the Mexican government and their attentions to the international community are laudable. Keep your eyes on the important, continuing efforts to protect the wilderness and provide opportunities for human economic growth in the region. The El Vizcaino UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is making its contribution to the current situation and the future development of this area of Baja California.

Nobel Prizes are bestowed annually by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.

Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald died on this date in 1932. He was a Baltic German chemist. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1909 for his work on catalysis, chemical equilibria and reaction velocities. Ostwald, Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff, and Svante Arrhenius are usually credited with being the modern founders of the field of physical chemistry.
Theodore William Richards died on this date in 1928. He was the first American scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, earning the 1914 award “in recognition of his exact determinations of the atomic weights of a large number of the chemical elements.”
Michael Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on this date in 1969. He was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia (the Albany Movement), and helped organise the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King also helped to organise the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history. On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped to organise the Selma to Montgomery marches, and the following year he and SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971, and as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honour, and a county in Washington State was also renamed for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.


Preparing for the Olympic football test

The next test for the Olympic-bound Women’s National Team is the Cyprus Cup. They are hoping to take home the Cup for the third consecutive time. This is a FIFA event and will see the Canadian national soccer team tested by European teams. The Canadian team has been practicing in the last week as well as evaluating some additional talent after the qualifying CONCACAF tournament held earlier this year in Vancouver.
The team was full for the Vancouver contests with wins over Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Mexico. They fell short in the final against the Americans. And now the real work begins as the dream match-up at this year’s Olympics would be a gold medal game against the Americans in London. The team has been working very hard to out-perform their seventh place ranking.
Next week’s tournament will give the Canadians another test. On February 28, they face Scotland ranked twenty second. Eleventh ranked Italy should prove to be a tougher challenge on March 1. On March 4, fourteenth ranked Netherlands should also be tough on the pitch. The toughest match should take place on March 31 against fifth place Sweden. A long time to be on the road but the team expects these tests and the intervening practive time will help with their preparations. The local TV programming has already lost its lustre. Perhaps supporters of the national team could send some DVDs to help the team relax in their off-hours.