By Andrea Sánchez Davidson
I lived near the Punta Banda estuary in 2017 and it inspired my love of birding. The Punta Banda estuary is located on the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, just south of Ensenada, Mexico.
When I went back to school to study marine biodiversity and conservation I knew that I wanted my capstone project to focus on this incredible wetland ecosystem and the birds who make it home.
Birds inspire wonder, encourage connections to the outdoors, and are important components of a healthy coastal and marine ecosystem.
In North America alone, seabirds and shorebirds have declined by as much as 70% over the last 40 to 50 years.
Their declines share common themes, all of which are exacerbated by our rapidly changing climate: habitat loss from coastal development, disturbance from humans and cars driving on the beach, predation from wild and domesticated animals, pollution from urban and agricultural runoff as well as more frequent high tide events. Meanwhile, despite being some of the most beneficial ecosystems in the world, approximately 35% of the world’s wetlands were lost between 1970-2015.
Not only are wetlands important for birds, they are also among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They regulate water quality, act as nursery areas for young fish, can contribute to regulating floods and the impacts of storms, help in erosion control, act as carbon sinks, and generally improve water security.
For my capstone project I created a website to host two ArcGIS StoryMaps: The Punta Banda Wetland: A guide to use, benefits, and conservation and Birds of the Punta Banda estuary.
Terra Peninsular, Pro Esteros, and other local organizations have been gathering data and implementing conservation efforts at the estuary site for many years. As Baja California continues to grow, it is important that locals and visitors share a sense of responsibility for the estuary.
My hope is that by sharing their data in an interesting and interactive way, especially during quarantine, these websites can help the public better understand the environmental, economic, and social benefits of the estuary and their role in keeping places like the Punta Banda estuary vibrant.
This site, including the surrounding region up to modern day San Diego County, is part of the traditional land of the Kumeyaay people.
This project was made possible through the financial support of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I’m grateful for the support of my Capstone Advisory Committee, local collaborators, and my colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.