Trophy Hunting and the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep in Baja California Sur

Trophy Hunting and the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep in Baja California Sur

Notes for translator:

Bighorn sheep = Borrego Cimarrón
Field Technician = Tecnico
Ecologist = Ecológo

“It was so hot and the terrain was so steep and challenging” recalls La Paz-based bighorn sheep hunting translator Angel Antonio Marquez. “We had to stick to the shadows so the sheep couldn’t see us, making the walking even more difficult. When we were 850 yards from the ram the hunter decided to take the shot. We all thought he was crazy since it was so far and we were not at all surprised when he missed. The bullet went right between that sheep’s legs.” Angel continued, “Now this would have scared away most animals, but there was a female sheep nearby and this male was trying to be macho for her so he just stood there. The hunter got him on the second shot. 850 yards. It is the record for the farthest shot in this area.”

According to CONABIO, Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, in 1800 over 1 million bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) roamed across the western parts of the US, Canada and northern Mexico. But the introduction of livestock and uncontrolled hunting led to a major decline, and by 1950 there were fewer than 25,000 individual sheep left. The population in northeast Mexico was extirpated and the remaining population in the northwest around Sonora and the Baja peninsula was small and fragmented. It might seem counterintuitive, but hunting is now the main activity, regulated by the Mexican government, helping to stabilize the bighorn sheep population and preserve their habitat.

“This program is an amazing idea” states Biól. Gabriela López Segurajáuregui, the Mexican CITES Scientific Authority Coordinator. “Mexico is a megadiverse country with over 10% of all species in the world. Our conservation challenge is to incentivize people to care for their resources so that they can make a living from them in an ongoing, sustainable way. Bighorn sheep trophy hunting is a major conservation success story in Mexico.”

Gabriela’s colleague M. en C. Luis Guillermo Muñoz Lacy, Chief of the National CITES implementation on Fauna Department, elaborates. “Mexico allows trophy hunting across many species, but bighorn sheep is the most valuable species for hunting in the country, meaning that hunters are willing to pay the most for those permits. The money generated by this program has a tremendously positive economic impact on local communities as well as a tremendously positive conservation impact on the sheep themselves and the lands they roam.” How much money are we talking about? Guillermo explains, “Each bighorn sheep permit in Baja California Sur (BCS) can be sold for USD 50,000 to 90,000. Sonora holds the record at USD 250,000 for one permit. BCS exports about 18 trophies per year.” In other words, it’s a game changer for the rural communities who manage the land and the hunts.

Here’s how it works. In the 1995-1997 timeframe the Mexican government created Conservation Wildlife Management Units (UMAs) to regulate wildlife harvest and non-harvest activities in Mexico, including habitat and species restoration, protection, research and environmental education. In the case of bighorn sheep, UMAs cover most of its habitat. 10 of the UMAs are in BCS and are managed by ejidos, or local communal farmers, and the remainder are across the Sea of Cortez in Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon. Bighorn sheep trophy hunting is carried out within the UMA system in the states of BCS and Sonora. Baja California, the state that occupies the northern half of the Baja peninsula, does not allow hunting.

In 1975 twenty bighorn sheep were reintroduced to Tiburon Island in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Sonora, and by 2012 that number had grown to 650. Many of those were transplanted to Sonora for repopulation and captive breeding programs and by 2019, the last year for which Sonora published its data, the continental population of bighorn sheep had recovered to 3,829 wild individuals and 4,500 in captivity. By contrast, BCS has only had a couple of reintroduction or reinforcement events and the last aerial survey conducted by SEMARNAT in 2022 estimated about 1,100 individuals in BCS.

The UMAs of BCS pay for a team of technicians to regularly monitor the bighorn sheep population on land, participate in the hunts, and accompany the aerial surveys that are conducted every three years. The technicians are extremely clear in their minds about the value of the trophy program. “If it were not for the economic power of the trophy permits, the Bighorn sheep population would almost certainly have been decimated by now and the ejidos would have sold off most of the land” observes Ing. Antia Duarte Camacho, Field Technician of de Ejido San Jose de la Noria and Ejido Lic. Alfredo V. Bonfil. “The bighorn sheep habitat is all along the Sea of Cortez, making that land extremely valuable.” Her colleague Ecologist Miguel Angel Aguilar Juárez, Field Technician of Ejidos Ley Federal de Aguas 1, 2 and 3 adds, “By 2014 the ejidos, many of which had been impoverished, were really starting to understand the huge, sustained, economic lift flowing from the trophy program. They developed a deep appreciation for the value of the land that they own and the sheep that inhabit it. That is when they all really started working together to make the program work as a whole in BCS. Bighorn sheep move seasonally across a vast territory so corridors are important. Income from bighorn sheep hunting started motivating the ejidos to work together to maintain these huge areas with no other human activities, including the raising of livestock.” CONABIO points to the resulting large-scale habitat conservation and improved connectivity as a major achievement of the trophy hunting program.

Bighorn sheep are extremely desirable among trophy hunters and are part of the sheep Grand Slam. Which leads to the question: how many sheep can you hunt without hurting the species? This is one of the critical questions that Gabriela López of the Mexican CITES Scientific Authority (CONABIO) and her team focus on. The UMAs organize to finance an aerial census of the bighorn sheep habitat every three years in the September-December timeframe. The survey is done in coordination with SEMARNAT, CONABIO and key experts. It is this survey that serves as the basis for issuing the harvest rate. Gabriela explains further, “We estimate that the aerial survey team makes visual contact with roughly 30% of the total population. As a precautionary measure we determine the number of trophy hunts that will be allowed based solely on the number of individual sheep actually observed, not the extrapolated number.” Only males that are 6 years or older can be hunted – an estimation made by the size of the horns – and the number to be hunted cannot exceed 10-20% of the observed population in each region. (The hunting guides note that hunters are not tempted by younger rams as they are going for the largest horns possible and those are, by definition, found on the oldest males. Males can live 9-12 years in the wild.) Based on the aerial survey of 2019, 18 trophy (harvest) permits were issued per year to the UMAS of BCS by SEMARNAT based on the technical and scientific advice of CONABIO. That number increased to 19 trophy permits per year based on the 2022 aerial survey. The next aerial survey will be conducted in December of 2025.

Once SEMARNAT issues the number of CITES permits to export trophies (CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) the UMAs work with brokers based in the United States to auction off the permits in places like Las Vegas and Reno. The brokers retain 15% of the permit fee and the remainder goes to the UMA and its ejido. The UMAs would like to see the auctions moved to BCS.

The horns and skin of the bighorn sheep shot by the hunter at 850 yards are still in the office of the technical team in La Paz. Issuance of the CITES permit for the trophy to be transported across international borders to the US-based hunter could take 3-4 months (SEMARNAT must also be consulted). CITES is a legally binding agreement between governments that works to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals or plants does not threaten the survival of the species. Only Mexico’s bighorn sheep population is listed on CITES Appendix II which covers species that are not necessarily threatened by international trade but that are deemed worthy of a close eye so that they do not slip into the highest category of endangerment, Appendix I. When weighing the permit to send this hunter his trophy they will carefully review, among other things, the report of the UMA technician who accompanied the hunt and took detailed notes on the geographical coordinates of where the sheep was hunted, estimated age, days taken to carry out the hunt and so forth. The technician also took biological samples for disease analysis.

Gabriela, Guillermo and the technical team for the UMAs all note that trophy hunting is extremely controversial in Mexico. Even some of the very officials whose offices support trophy hunting personally speak out against it. The IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has long supported sustainable, properly managed trophy hunting in conservation when it provides incentives for people to conserve the trophy species and their habitats. Sacrificing a few for the many is a concept that will never unify humanity, but by the IUCN’s measure – and that of CONABIO, CITES and the UMAs – the bighorn sheep trophy program has been a success in BCS, for the species, its habitat, and for the local communities.

How the permit funds are used:
Del pago que se hace a las UMAS por la venta de los permiso para la caza de borrego cimarron el 70% es entregado a las ejidatarios dueños de las las tierras donde se encuentra la UMA y 30% es dedicado a la conservación, donde se realizan las siguentes actividades:

Actividades de conservación implementadas
Colocación de letreros, puertas de acceso
Placement of signs, gates
Censo aéreo
Aerial Census
Plan de Acción para la Conservación y manejo de las Sierras Borregueras de B.C.S.
(Con apoyo de SEMARNAT)
Limpieza y rehabilitación de aguajes
Cleaning and rehabilitation of Aguajes
Monitoreo y Vigilancia
Monitoring and surveillance
Training courses
Delimitación de las áreas de distribución e identificación de corredores biológicos
Delimitation of the areas of distribution and identification of biological corridors
Identificación de la problemática con la fauna feral
Identification of the problem with feral fauna
Entrega de reportes anuales a SEMARNAT
Activity Report
Construcción de corrales para el manejo de fauna feral
Construction of corrals for feral wildlife management
Programa de manejo de fauna feral
Program implementation of feral animal management
Mejoramiento de hábitat
Improvement of habitat
Diversificación de actividades: ecoturismo, cabañas, aprovechamiento cinegético de otras especies
Diversification of activities: ecotourism, cabins, hunting of other species

This Little Light of Mine: Love From our Guests

This Little Light of Mine: Love From our Guests

WOW! We are so thrilled with the recent feedback we’ve had from guests and we’re excited to share some of it here. Read on to see what folks are saying or check out our instagram pageSpoiler Alert: Our guides, chefs and support staff are at the heart of everything we do and we couldn’t be more proud of our entire Todos Santos Eco Adventures family! Click here to read more about us.

“We have been all over the world with all kinds of companies, and this one is and always will be
one of our most favorite and cherished trips! We had the most amazing and unforgettable time
at Camp Cecil. What a fantastic operation and experience! Paulina was an exceptional guide, all
of the staff were so kind, friendly, helpful, accommodating, and fun to be around. The food was
unbelievably fantastic (we couldn’t believe how creative and delicious every single thing we ate
was and what the staff were able to come up with in a remote camp). The tents were fantastic,
the bathrooms were super nice, and of course the experiences we had were the absolute best.
Literally everything was perfect and I was so impressed with every single step of the
experience.” Maria B. Nov 2023

“Our guide Octavio was superb in every aspect! He is easily one of the top 5 guides we’ve ever
had anywhere in the world.” Erin M. March 2024

“I want to share with you that you really do have the best guides working with you at TOSEA.
Our excursions and activities were wonderful, and I really have to give an extra special thank
you to Guide Hugo and boat Captain Omar. What an incredible duo. They work so seamlessly
together. Omar is wonderfully passionate and dedicated to providing an incredible experience
on his panga and Hugo is quite possibly one of the best guides I have ever had anywhere in the
world. We just don’t quite have the words for how special they made the visit to the
island.” Kelly C., Jan 2024

“Thank you and your team again for a brilliant and enriching experience. Axel & Bernardo were
exceptional guides in their consummate professionalism, passion for the natural world and
unruffled patience.” Mia C. March 2024

“Our guide, Axel, was simply the best! So knowledgeable about everything in the sea, on land,
and in the air. And his kind, fun, and friendly demeanor made our days. Probably our favorite
part was the 3 nights at Camp Cecil on Isla Espíritu Santo. The snorkeling, kayaking, turtles,
manta rays, sea lions, bioluminescence, hikes…really everything about it was fantastic. We
were especially impressed with the delicious meals that Ricardo and team prepared on a 4-
burner stove in a tent!” Penny F. Jan 2024

“Don’t know how they do it, but every meal exceeded my expectations! They even cooked a
special meal for me since I don’t like fish, which I really appreciated!” Diana W. Feb 2024

“Our guide, Manuel, was superb. We have taken many guided trip and he ranks at the top:
knowledgeable, lively, kind, funny, flexible and able to “read” a group.” Josh O., Dec 2023.

“Martin, our chef at the Sierra Camp, was amazing and that was some of the best food we have
had anywhere.” Bev W., Feb 2024

Hugo is smart, mellow, accommodating, knowledgeable, energetic, enthusiastic, spiritual and
caring. His knowledge of the history, culture, plants, animals and other aspects of the peninsula
is tremendous. He has a perfect demeanor for handling a group.” Jack S. Jan 2024

“Axel is a fantastic guide. 10/10. Gracious, accommodating, friendly and knowledgeable. I’ll
request him again if I go on this trip again.” John J. Jan 2024

The guides were amazing. The food was amazing. I can’t really choose my favorite activity –
snorkeling with whale sharks, snorkeling with sea lions, the cooking class. It was all a lot of fun.”
Shelley J. Feb 2024

“I have traveled for many years and I think this trip connected all the activities in a unique way.
The trip was truly outstanding on every level. Sebastian was a fantastic guide, both very
knowledgeable and tuned in to our needs.” Jeff C., Feb 2024

“Our guide Sergio N. did an amazing job with our family of 8, orchestrating everyone’s interests
and activity level at all times, from the young teens up to an 80-year-old. His knowledge of the
land and sea, and his sharing of so many little secrets opened up the island to us and made it so
special. My heart wants to return back sometime soon.” Mark S. Dec 2023

“The food at Camp Cecil de la Isla was some of the best I have ever eaten-SUPER FANTASTIC!
HIGH compliments to Chef Ricardo and full respect for what he was able to do and provide in
such a tiny kitchen space! The menu was creative and fun and the presentation of the food was
FABULOUS. So many small details and I appreciated every little thought and action put toward
the food, camp, and our guides/crew. Our overall experiences will be forever in our hearts,
minds, and souls.” Tanya T. Dec 2023

Our guides, especially Andrea, were excellent and I have only the highest praise for them.
Andrea was knowledgeable, clear and patient. I also want to say that our boat captains were
the unsung heroes of our trip. We always felt safe and they certainly know how to approach
wildlife safely. Kudos to them all and five stars all around.” Bev W., Feb 2024

“Absolutely incredible experience! Amazing guides, excellent activities, incredibly well-
organized, and fun. From booking the trip until we said ‘hasta luego’ to our wonderful guide,
we had a ball, ate well and learned a lot about the Baja peninsula. Can I give more than 5
stars??” Dianne Z, Jan 2024

Seafood, Sustainability, and Sunsets: the Basics of Baja California Sur, Mexico

Seafood, Sustainability, and Sunsets: the Basics of Baja California Sur, Mexico


Where to stay around Baja California Sur

In Todos Santos: Los Colibris Casitas

todos santos la paz hotel

Photo: Go La Paz/ColinRuggiero

Led by a husband-and-wife team pioneering sustainability efforts in Baja California Sur, the carbon-neutral Los Colibris Casitas is a haven for nature lovers and one of the most charming places to stay in Todos Santos. The privileged hilltop location has casitas in lush gardens, with excellent views of the Pacific and a neighboring palm grove. Rates start around $135 per night.

What to do in Baja California Sur

Go whale or bird watching

baja california sur gray whale todos santos

Photo: Go La Paz

One of the most magical features of Baja California Sur in Mexico is its rich biodiversity, both on land and in the water.

Between January and March, you can watch giant gray whales in the Pacific Ocean as they migrate south along the western coast of the Baja Peninsula. Trips leave from Todos Santos (about 45 minutes from Cabo) or La Paz, in which case your tour company will drive you across the peninsula.

Year-round, you can go bird-watching to meet frigate birds, roadrunners, kingfishers, hummingbirds, and more. It’s a good way to learn what names to put to the melodic beauties likely to serenade you in the mornings and lull you to sleep each evening.

Both these adventures are available through Todos Santos Eco Adventures, which operates trips leaving from Todos Santos. It’s a carbon-neutral tour company pioneering sustainable tourism in the region.

Booking through companies that think about their environmental impact, practice Leave No Trace principles, and use guides certified by NOLS is one of the best ways to protect the natural beauty of Baja California Sur, Mexico, and preserve it for the future.

Read the full article for inspiration here!

Celebrating our Guides!

Celebrating our Guides!

A Celebration of Todos Santos Eco Adventures’ Guides

Last month, several Todos Santos Eco Adventures (TOSEA) guides completed an epic 10-day, end-of-season paddle from Loreto to La Paz. Skills, knowledge, teamwork and FUN were the themes, but it turns out that when the season winds down, naturalist adventure guides just want to relax by adventuring in nature!

Being out there with all you need in the hatch of a kayak makes you realize that life is actually pretty simple. This trip was a mental and physical challenge for me, but I learned so much and had so many amazing encounters on the ocean and in the unique Baja landscape. I came away with fantastic memories and a lot of learnings. These are the great moments of life.” – Cesar Caballero, TOSEA guide

The adventure started off with a night on a beach under the stars. After organizing gear, the team had dinner and relaxed before the next day’s big paddle. The trip was designed not only for fun and camaraderie – it was a chance for the guides to learn from one another and to build their both their soft skills and preparedness skills such as perfecting the ‘Eskimo roll’ (rolling and righting your kayak) – and they were able to do all of that and more over the 10 days!

Days on the trip started early, fueled by hearty breakfasts. The guides took turns leading each day – cooking meals, cleaning up, organizing navigation and more. One guide played a faux demanding guest so that the group could practice tending to the ‘client’s’ wants and needs while also tending to the rest of the group.

I was able to discover a version of myself that I didn’t know existed. Being out there in the immensity of the Sea of Cortez, constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone, and working so tightly with my colleagues to achieve our common goals really changed the way that I approach my work. It was a life-changing experience.” – Octavio Marin, TOSEA guide

Throughout the journey the guides were serenaded by incredible landscapes of islands, mountains and perfect, deserted beaches; paddled and played with dolphins; and marveled at whales and birds. All the while, they built routines to make everything work and paddled, paddled, paddled – a kind of meditation.

I breathe deeply trying to take in as many images, sensations, feelings as I can before they turn into memories.” – Alejandra Ibarrola, TOSEA guide

One of the magical things about discovering Baja California Sur with TOSEA is what the guides themselves were reminded of over and over again on this trip – the absolute wonder of this biodiverse peninsula. One evening the group decided to do a night paddle (after paddling all day!) to see the ocean’s bioluminescence…

As soon as the sun hides, we start seeing the tiny sparkles in the water. The darker it gets, the more we see. It’s stunning, my colleagues are ecstatic. There are stars shining above us and underneath. We see some bright silhouettes of fish swimming past us. Every time the paddles go in the water they leave a trace of blue light amongst the darkness of a moonless night. It truly is the stuff of dreams.” – Alejandra Ibarrola, TOSEA guide.

This unforgettable experience demonstrates TOSEA’s deep commitment to investing in their guiding team. Creating opportunities such as these, along with their innovative guide exchange program, help their guides to grow as individuals and as a team. This all translates into a better adventure for your guests in both tangible and intangible ways. Way to go TOSEA!

“Being out on a trip like this with my fellow guides and colleagues was truly something special. It reinforced how much we all have in common through our shared passion for nature, and it definitely united us more as a team. We had so many beautiful experiences, including dolphins swimming all around us one day, being in the water with the bioluminescence at night, and so many more. I think we all grew a lot, and we were all reminded that we truly live in paradise. It was an amazing experience.” – Sergio Mariscal, TOSEA guide

The Successful Sea Lions of Los Islotes

The Successful Sea Lions of Los Islotes

Photo by Erika Peterman

by Bryan Jáuregui for the Journal del Pacifico

Swimming with the sea lion puppies at Los Islotes, the southernmost rookery of the California Sea Lion, Zalophus californianus, is truly one of life’s great joys. The puppies are often playful and naughty, nibbling on the flippers and fingers of human visitors, while their teenage siblings like to sidle up to humans for a good belly rub or game of chase. Their mothers may be found sunning themselves on the rocks, enjoying a snooze, while the males who rule the 20 territories of Los Islotes indefatigably patrol the waters to ensure everyone’s safety. It is a scene of utter Baja bliss, and humans can’t help but feel a magical glow from this most wondrous of wildlife encounters.

All of which begs the obvious question: Why are the males working so hard when everyone else is just having a good time?

Claudia J. Hernandez-Camacho, a professor of biology at CICIMAR in La Paz, has been studying the sea lions of Los Islotes and the Sea of Cortez since 1990. In particular, she has studied the entire lifespan of 190 sea lion individuals (94 females, 96 males) who were hot-branded by her professor between 1980 and 1984. Her findings, based on these specific sea lions and others, tell a complicated tale for our pinniped friends.

“Sea lions are polygynous, meaning that one male mates with several females in the territory that he defends on land and sea. It takes an enormous amount of energy to defend this territory, and in the breeding season a territorial male, who is so focused on his job that he barely eats or sleeps, can lose up to 30% of his impressive body weight (400 to 500 kilos, or about a ton) in just a few weeks.”

Photo by Colin Ruggiero for Todos Santos Eco Adventures

One would assume, of course, that the males are spending this incredible amount of energy to defend their harems and offspring, to ensure the survival of their genes. “But this is not exactly the case” says Claudia, “they are defending the territory, not the females.” The science proves this out. “Genetic studies show that just 15% of territorial males are the fathers of the newborns the next breeding season.  It is not just that the females hook up with and get impregnated by wandering, opportunistic males when they slip off for their 4-5 day feeding trips, which they do, but in some cases the territorial males are not even copulating with the females in their territory.” All that work and no sex?

“It’s a little more complicated than that,” says Claudia. “There are 600 individual sea lions at Los Islotes, and every year around 170 pups are born. Almost 30% of the pups die in the first two years, either from disease or because they or their mothers have fallen prey to predators. But that means that 70% are surviving. With this type of situation, many of the sea lions are, by definition, related. It could be argued that the Los Islotes males work so hard not just for their own offspring, but because they are protecting their extended families. This would also explain why they do not copulate with all the females in their territory. They are avoiding inbreeding.” This is an approach to collective living that we generally only associate with high intelligence mammals like primates, elephants and dolphins.

The Los Islotes territorial males are so successful in their defense of the colony, and have made conditions so conducive to survival, that Los Islotes is actually full to capacity now. In fact, two new satellite colonies have been created nearby in recent years by all the young males who are no longer welcome at Los Islotes, but who are still too young and slight to fight older, larger males for territory. Sea lions are philopatric, meaning that they stay in or habitually return to the area of their birth, so it is possible that these satellite colonies will only continue to grow.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that it is happening at a time when the overall population of California Sea Lions in the Sea of Cortez is dropping dramatically. Between 2000 and 2018, 40% of the population of other colonies disappeared. Are those males falling down on the job? Not likely says Claudia. “We are analyzing a lot of

Photo by Colin Ruggiero for Todos Santos Eco Adventures

environmental variables right now to determine the main factor causing the decline of these colonies, but one of the most likely culprits is the food supply” she observes. “It is not that the fish populations in the other parts of the Sea of Cortez are declining, they are not. It is that the fish are moving further south. While the sea lions of Los Islotes, the southernmost California Sea Lion rookery, are benefitting from this trend, it is proving lethal to others. Healthy females will travel up to 60 kilometers away from their colonies to find food, but further than that is not feasible. They need to conserve energy to produce milk for their pups. And even in those more northern locations where there are still fish, there are a very limited number of fish species, and this relatively poor-quality diet means that the females are not gaining enough energy from their food to productively nurse their pups. On the opposite side of the coin, the sea lions of Los Islotes are getting an increasing number of fish species in their diet, with the result that population density has reached an all-time high.”

Female sea lions are not only philopatric, i.e., prone to stay in the area where they were born, they are attached to very specific real estate in that area, with many staking one specific rocky outcropping for their own. So with the increasing density of the population at Los Islotes, it is not surprising to learn that sea lion attitudes are becoming a bit more aggressive. Add to that the fact that the entire colony of females either a) goes into estrus, or b) has newborn pups to defend at exactly the same time and breeding season, which generally takes place June 1 to August 31, becomes a time when human body parts might best be kept at a distance from the sea lions of Los Islotes.  In fact, Los Islotes is now closed to snorkelers and scuba divers during this period.

Los Islotes is regularly listed as one of the top diving/snorkeling spots in the world, and Claudia and her students are launching a study to evaluate the effects of all these visitors on the sea lions. The tourism hiatus being imposed by the authorities during breeding season offers them the perfect opportunity for their research. “We have already collected fecal samples from the sea lions during the tourist season, and will now do so again when the colony is closed to tourists. We will then test the level of cortisol, a stress indicator, in both sets of fecal matter to determine if tourism increases stress in sea lions. We have already observed some differences in behavior in the sea lions at Los Islotes. While at other, more remote colonies, the sea lions will copulate during the day, at Los Islotes they only engage in this behavior at night. We hope to be able to determine if tourism is having an impact on the sea lions.”

Claudia at Los Islotes

Of course, liking your loving in the evening time is a common enough attribute of many healthy mammals, but if other colonies are also enjoying some afternoon delight, have the sea lions of Los Islotes gone too far in adapting to the presence of humans? Will the territorial males one day snap back to impose a more natural environment for their territories? Human males have certainly done battle over lesser issues.

Tourists have been visiting Los Islotes on a regular basis for roughly three decades, and sea lion males live an average of 19 years. There is therefore not yet a deep institutional knowledge about humans among the territorial males, and they could still be giving us the opportunity to demonstrate our worthiness as visitors to their home. Will we make the cut? We can’t be sure what the sea lions have learned about humans over the years, or what Claudia and her team will demonstrate, but the strong pull of Los Islotes on humans is easy enough to understand: it is a place where joy and spontaneity rule, and we thrill to that vibrancy.  While the territorial males are likely not motivated by their roles as life coaches for humans, it is enticing to think that maybe just one of the reasons they work so hard is to protect such a joyful lifestyle for their families. Claudia and her team are working hard to do the same.


Todos Santos Eco Adventures is the leading eco adventure company in Baja California Sur. On Isla Espiritu Santo we operate Camp Cecil, a luxury tent camp, and Camp Colossus, a moveable glamping operation. Claudia and her students will be spending time with us at our camps throughout the season as they conduct their sea lion research, so you may find them at the dinner table if you spend time with us at the island!

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2018