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November 02, 2011

Strengthening Sustainable Development and Conservation in Magdalena Bay

By Veronica Rangel

During October WiLDCOAST worked in Puerto San Carlos and Puerto López Mateos, Baja California Sur, Mexico to organize community workshops for the creation of Murals, Signs and Sculptures in collaboration with artist Francisco Merino, and Shell Carving with Dr. Carlos Cáceres. During our workshops, high school students painted colorful murals throughout the community in an effort to heighten environmental awareness of marine and coastal ecosystems and the unique environment of Magdalena Bay.

“In addition to strengthening the sense of community, these activities also contribute to improving the livelihood of the inhabitants,” said Verónica Rangel the WiLDCOAST Magdalena Bay program coordinator. “The next step will be the creation of signs and sculptures using recycled materials and found objects in both Lopez Mateos and Puerto San Carlos in November,” she added.

Magdalena Bay is a biologically diverse ecosystem with many unique marine species including gray whales, loggerhead sea turtles, bald eagles, bottlenose dolphins and magnificent frigatebirds. For tourists visiting the region, the opportunity to own artistic creations from San Carlos and López Mateos is to own a piece of the natural richness of the region. 

“Magdalena Bay’s shells serve as ambassadors of Baja California´s natural beauty,” said Rangel, “Through these artistic works local residents have the opportunity to inspire others, and share the culture and natural resources of these bay communities.” 

The two-day shell carving workshop was attended mostly by women (of various ages) who learned several artistic techniques. “Participants spent around 18 hours practicing techniques to enhance the natural beauty of the shells, that resulted in a beautiful artisanal product with commercial potential,” explained Dr. Carlos Cáceres. “Mexico has an amazing variety of shellfish.  Abalone, scallops, and geoduck clams are just a few of the shells that could be used in this project. We will continue to facilitate the artwork and advise the artists through 2012.”

“Conservation of the environment succeeds when local residents also benefit from safeguarding these important locations,” said Serge Dedina, executive director of WiLDCOAST. 

WiLDCOAST thanks Canada Fund for Local Initiatives and Perlas del Cortéz for their support in making these workshops possible.