Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016

Tiempo de lectura | Reading time: 5 minutos

By Antonieta Valenzuela

Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016

The Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival was held in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora; for the second year in a row, the event was organized by the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve.

Through games and activities, the aim of the festival was to inform children, parents and the general public about the importance of the red knot and Gulf grunion, species that can be found during the spring in the Gulf of Santa Clara, Sonora, an area that is part of the biosphere reserve.

The red knot (Calidris canutus) is an endangered migratory bird that spends the winter in Mexico and South America, and every spring flies back to its breeding sites in Alaska, Canada and northeastern United States; before arriving, the red knots stop at the Gulf of Santa Clara, Sonora, where they feed almost exclusively on Gulf grunion eggs (Leuresthes sardina), a small fish related to sardines that spawns right on the beach between March and June.

One of the actions of the Biosphere Reserve of the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta is to provide environmental education regarding the protection of the beaches of the Gulf of Santa Clara.

Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016

Since both species spend the spring in the Gulf of Santa Clara, and because it’s a period with high tourist activity, the festival focused on teaching the community to respect the Gulf grunions to ensure their reproduction, and thus also protect the red knots on their journey to their breeding sites.

With the support of Terra Peninsular and other associations, the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve held the festival that was divided into two parts: first in San Luis Río Colorado with the festival of educational activities; and then, during the weekend, in the Gulf of Santa Clara, with activities like bird watching, monitoring and protection actions, as well as talks and games for children.

In order to offer the various activities, the staff and volunteers of the biosphere reserve received prior training. Some of the interactive games focused on explaining the migration of the red knot, identifying birds of the region, linking photographs with information on each species, among others; there was also a coloring area and exhibition of children’s drawings from the Gulf of Santa Clara.

Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016

María Jesús Martínez, project manager of the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta
Biosphere Reserve, said that given the lack of support from authorities to protect the beaches in the spawning season, the campaign “Taking care of the Gulf grunion” was launched within the festival.

She said that the campaign is an effort to provide visitors with information about the Gulf grunion to protect it during the spawning season and guarantee its reproduction. After the festival in the Gulf of Santa Clara, surveys will be conducted among tourists to measure the results of the campaign.

The beaches of the Gulf of Santa Clara are part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, a system of natural reserves that protects key habitats of the American continent with the objective of maintaining healthy populations of shorebirds.

The Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival is part of the Calidris project “Protecting and conserving the migration route of shorebirds” which seeks to promote the protection of birds, in this case, the red knot and, consequently, the Gulf grunion, as both share an ecological relationship.

Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016
Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016
Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016
Red Knot and Gulf Grunion Festival 2016