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Islas Revillagigedo, Mexico’s new reserve is North America’s largest

Mexico has declared the Islas Revillagigedo, an archipelago in the northeast Pacific a national marine reserve to protect the extraordinary biodiversity of these volcanic islands and the surrounding seas. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, this new reserve is the largest in North America (57,000 square miles). It is home to species ranging from humpback, sperm and killer whales, great white and hammerhead sharks, manta rays and four species of sea turtles to species of endemic birds such as parakeets, doves and shearwaters, lizards, snakes and plants.

Often called the ‘Galapagos of North America,’ the Islas Revillagigedo archipelago shares some of the same characteristics as the Ecuadorian chain of islands: a volcanic origin, the meeting of two ocean currents which gives rise to waters rich in nutrients, endemic species, and relative isolation. The Islas Revillagigedo are 250 miles southwest of the Baja California peninsula.

The seas around the islands of San Benedicto, Socorro, Roca Partida and Clarion are a feeding ground for several species of whales, sharks, dolphins, sea lions and migratory birds and a winter breeding ground for humpback whales and almost 400 fish species large and small, including sailfish, marlin and colorful coral reef inhabitants such as angel and butterfly fish.

Fifteen species of endemic bird have been identified on Socorro Island and there are also lizards, snakes and plants found nowhere else on the planet.

Commercial fishing is now prohibited in the Revillagigedo Islands reserve to protect species such as tuna and sierra and give fish populations a chance to grow. The islands are also off limits for mining, forestry and tourist development.

This post is also available in: Spanish

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