By Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson
Over the holidays, Reef Check staff and volunteers made a preliminary survey of the reefs offshore of Punta Sayulita, Mexico, about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. Our host, Kevin Roberts, wants to make an adopt-a-reef program the centerpiece of the environmental program at a residential housing development there (www.puntasayulita.com). The reefs in this area are a transitional environment between the pure tropical reefs further south and the temperate environment to the north. Tropical reef corals are common on the rocks of the offshore Marietta Islands. Also abundant are typical tropical fish fauna such as grouper and butterflyfish – Reef Check indicator species. But the few coral “patch” reefs found in the area were destroyed by hurricanes in the 1990s. This presents an opportunity for some restoration work with the common branching Pocillopora species for the “house reef.” Following a presentation that brought together local resident divers at the “Beach House,” Reef Check is now working on a revised set of indicators for this part of the Pacific Ocean and will be organizing a training for Sayulita scuba divers in the coming months, as well as setting up a program with the local school. In addition to some beautiful reefs, divers in this area during December were rewarded with a continuous underwater soundtrack of the visiting Humpback whales.