Isla Rasa

Heermann's Gull
I had quite the experience today on Isla Rasa in the Sea of Cortez.  It is famous for being one of the greatest wildlife sites of the world.  You might have seen the island from many famous nature documentaries.  The island covers 142 acres, which is the breading ground for about 95% of the world’s population of both the Heermann’s Gull (it ranges along the Pacific coast from Oregon to Panama) & the Elegant Tern (it ranges from California to Peru along the Pacific coast). It’s a mass colony of birds & shocking that I went ashore to take advantage of what the day behold.  I’m shocked that I survived it cos I’m not a bird lover by any means.  It was remarkable to be impressed with the beauty of the place & having the opportunity to feel as if I was in a “documentary” this morning along side National Geographic Photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins.
Bird Colony of Isla Rasa
The story of the island is quite impressive.  At one time, it has been estimated that more than a million birds nested together on this tiny island every spring.  The place is covered.  Guano harvesters appeared at the end of nineteenth century & begun disrupting things as they collected guano for use as fertilizers & in the manufactures of explosives.  Thing really got bad when egg collectors began coming in the 1930’s.  By the late 1950’s the bird population had been reduced to just 5,000 individuals. The Mexican government declared the island a sanctuary in the 1964 & gave it the protection it so desperately needed.  In the forty years since that time, the population has grown to some half a million birds.  Introduced rodents were eradicated & the sea birds population rebounded.  The 2004 population included 280,000 Heermann’s Gulls, 180,000 Elegant Terns & 15,000 Royal Terns.  Today, over-harvesting of sardines may pose a threat to these birds, larger fish & to the marine mammals.  My morning on this remote island was pretty amazing & peaceful for sure.  There’s a ranger station too that is on the island was pretty rad to check out too. Apparently a ranger stays on the island for a month at a time & they bring in supplies to “camp” out in the dwelling. 

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