September 30, 2011
The Aquarium’s tenth annual Baja Splash Festival, which celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and the marine environments of Baja California, México, was held in September 2011. The Aquarium honored World Wildlife Fund for the organization’s work in helping the people and wildlife of Baja. Dení Ramírez Macías, director of WWF México’s Tiburón Ballena México (or whale shark program), and Georgina Saad, project manager of the Marine Priority Species Conservation Program accepted the award during the festival.
WWF has existed for over forty-five years. It is the largest multinational conservation organization in the world, working in 100 countries and supported by 1.2 million U.S. members and nearly 5 million globally. WWF combines global reach with science and works to ensure the delivery of solutions that meet the needs people and nature.
WWF is working to achieve a careful balance between meeting the needs of the local people and maintaining a healthy ecosystem in México’s Gulf of California. The organization focuses on three areas for altering the global forces that challenge the future of this unique place: creating a network of marine protected areas; promoting sustainable fisheries; and sustainable coastal development and tourism. WWF has a vision for the region: a healthy, productive, and resilient Gulf of California that reliably produces the ecosystem goods and services needed to support human welfare, healthy economies, and biological diversity.
The Gulf of California lies between México’s mainland and the Baja California Peninsula. It is home to one third of the world’s marine mammal species, over 170 seabird species, and over 900 fish species. Five out of the seven species of endangered sea turtles rely on the Gulf of California. The Gulf is also home to animals found nowhere else in the world, including the world’s smallest cetacean, a critically endangered animal called the vaquita, and the endangered totoaba fish.
WWF México worked with the Aquarium to create a bilingual Gulf of California exhibit, which debuted in 2008. This permanent exhibit helps Aquarium visitors learn about this diverse habitat, the animals and people who depend on it, the threats the Gulf faces, and the role WWF and the Aquarium play in protecting the Gulf. The two organizations also created a film, A Sea on the Edge, which explores solutions to threats to the Gulf.