As part of Oceanic Society’s Five for 50 campaign, we traveled to Baja California, Mexico for the second of five exclusive explorations of key ocean habitats. We were joined by partners, travelers, and influencers including Slater Moore and Chris Kratt of Wild Kratts, and were able to film the second episode of our Blue Habits video series. In this episode, we meet Baja California native Huber Omar Murillo Nuñez and learn how sustainable tourism can benefit not only wildlife and endangered species, but also individuals like Huber who rely on the sea to support their family.
Remote areas of Baja California’s Peninsula are home to some of the last wild coasts on Earth. As in many coastal communities, the main sources of income here are tied to the sea. In a remote tourist camp operated by RED Travel Mexico in Baja’s Magdalena Bay, we met Huber Omar Murillo Nuñez, a local resident and former sea turtle poacher who now works as the camp’s manager and head chef. Huber’s inspiring personal story highlights how sustainable tourism can positively impact both people and wildlife in ecologically important areas. “Tourism has changed my life for the better,” says Huber, “We need to take care to conserve our whales, fish, turtles, dolphins, and sea lions. This will lead to something good. So that our children will get to experience some of the beautiful world that we live in today.”
The Baja California Peninsula provided a remarkable display of wildlife during our expedition in March. We watched green sea turtles glide through the water, and witnessed behemoth whale sharks skim the surface to feed. Gray whales, who migrated thousands of miles to mate or give birth and in the warm waters, watched us thoughtfully as they swam within arms reach of our pangas. The experience was both breathtaking and unforgettable, leading to thoughtful discussions about the cross-sections of sustainable tourism and safeguarding endangered species like green sea turtles and whale sharks.
The Five for 50 campaign kicked off with an expedition to Palau with Dr. Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue, and Fisk Johnson, the CEO of SC Johnson. These expeditions bring together thought leaders and travelers to experience the oceans’ beauty and highlight important ocean threats including plastic pollution, endangered species, sustainable tourism, climate change, and fisheries management.
The remaining three destinations include Trinidad to monitor nesting leatherback sea turtles, Raja Ampat to explore biodiversity and the impacts of a changing climate, and the Galápagos Islands to highlight sustainable tourism. If you would like to join one of our upcoming Five for 50 trips, you can find the full calendar here: https://5x50.oceanicsociety.org/.
Huntley Penniman is an Oceanic Society social media specialist and communications strategist. From diving to conservation and environmental communications, her passion lies in learning more about the wildlife that lives under the surface of the ocean. Huntley holds a B.S. in Biology from Boston College and a Master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.