By Jonathan Vargas / Bird Conservation Projects Associate
This article was translated by Manuel Eduardo Mendoza and Amairani Márquez
As every year, this past January 24 we conducted a winter census of the black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) in San Quintín Bay. The objective was to estimate the population size and distribution of black brant in 2019’s winter, and continue with the long-term monitoring program. This project was coordinated by Eduardo Palacios, PhD in collaboration with Terra Peninsular.
Each year, more than 75% of the brants migrate on a direct flight from their breeding zones in Alaska to wintering sites in northwestern Mexico. In San Quintín, Baja California, the black brants feed on the abundant seagrass (Zostera marina) that covers 46% of the bay on which they rely to survive the winter, and to accumulate enough energy for the way back to their breeding zones in the Arctic during spring.
This is why monitoring projects are essentials to know the state of the population and health of the ecosystem, and identify, opportunely, any problem. This information allows us to determine the relevant conservation strategies for San Quintín Bay.
This year was special and productive, not only for the 20,145 black brants that we estimated during the census (35% more that in 2018), but for having the fortune to collaborate with our friends of Servicios Turísticos y Pesca Comercial Los Volcanes, also manage an Environmental Management Unit in San Quintín, and with whom we are very grateful, especially with René Duarte for helping us during the journey, and taking us on one of his boats. We are also very grateful with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their help.
In short, we had a great experience and are very happy to continue working together for the conservation of the black brant and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources that San Quintín Bay provides us: a paradise of this beautiful land of Baja California.
The black brant is a goose that can be exploitable, in a sustainable way, and, with regulatory standards, its hunting is allowed in Mexico. The censuses are used to estimate the population of the black brant, and with scientific data, the amount to hunt can be determined to maintain healthy populations.