National Geographic

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Photo by Octavio Aburto

Photo by Octavio Aburto
Cabo Pulmo National Park, Mexico. The closest rocky-reef dike to the coast exposed at sunrise. Once degraded by overfishing, Cabo Pulmo has become the world’s most robust marine reserve. The Mexican government declared the area a National Park in 1995, and the local community has been enforcing the park’s regulations that prohibit commercial extractive activities as well as any activity that may alter natural conditions. After 16 years, local people enjoy better life conditions, and the abundance of large top predator fish has also increased. The park is now home to high concentration of fish and is a refuge for migratory species like whale sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, and five of the world’s seven endangered species of sea turtle. Additionally, sightings of black tip reef sharks, tiger sharks, and bull sharks inside the Park have become common. With the world’s oceans crisis, Cabo Pulmo is a refreshing success story of local conservation; more importantly, it is an example that supports the creation of marine reserves as a means to increase economic perspectives for coastal communities worldwide.