Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting geared up for field season again

Departing for the wilds of Bahía Magdalena, Isla Magdalena and probably Isla Santa Margarita in a few weeks for field work season number 4. The study site for the PhD research is mainly the two islands, a total surface area of about 300 km^2.

The island and bay system to the northwest here is Isla Magdalena, including the large crescent bay, Bahía Santa Maria and the approximately 20 km^2 rocky northwestern cape, Cabo San Lazaro. The island to the southeast is Isla Santa Margarita.

Isla Magdalena is accessible only by boat from Puerto San Carlos, a fishing town sheltered on the peninsula.

My friend Marco, who runs Magdalena Bay Whales, provides most of the boat transportation, except to the south of Isla Santa Margarita. For that study site, I get a ride from one of the fishermen in the tiny village of Puerto Alcatraz. Still waiting on the Mexican Navy for permission to continue my research on the island.
Fishing pangas at Puerto Alcatraz on Isla Santa Margarita
The palapa painstakingly built by Marco on Isla Magdalena for  the comfortable whale watching camp he has built 

The fearsome species I am studying that occurs almost entirely only on these islands: Cochemiea halei. 

These research trips always involve massive prep, a checklist with more than 120 items, carefully planned and targeted field work goals doable by one field botanist in a relatively short period of time and a huge serving of uncertainty. But it's always worth it.

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