California / Baja

Current Phase: Completed on-location filming, Post-Production and Sweetening Needed

The Spiral Pacific crew travels to Baja Mexico's Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Bay of Guerrero Negro in search of big animals encounters such as whale sharks and gray whales, thriving in an environment that is not yet heavy impacted by human population. 

In the Sea of Cortez, our team records rare footage of Whale Sharks gathering in social groups and feeding, relatively undisturbed in this natural habitat.  To touch on citizen science, we visit a well-established research facility, the Vermilion Sea Institute field station.  This facility utilizes students and visitors who collect images and data that help to extend our knowledge of this highly transient species. 

Our next stop is the bays outside of Guerrero Negro. The gray whale pollution has historically migrated to give birth in the warm waters of the bays. The economy of the villages located along the bays benefits from the ecotourism generated by this non-extractive use of natural resources.  We will also explore whether recent reports of possible changes in Grey Whale migration patterns can be verified.  The ocean currents along the Pacific coasts of California and Baja have been in a warming cycle as a result of El Nino and other environmental factors.  Currently, there are reports of increased birthing activity in Monterey Bay, CA.  Are the whales adapting to the changes in ocean currents and not finding the need to travel further seeking ideal conditions?

As overfishing has caused a major drop in stock populations, aquaculture becomes a desirable alternative to open ocean fishing.  Numerous sea pens along the upper coast of the Baja Norte are utilized to contain and feed undersize bluefin. Under market sized bluefin are captured alive in the open ocean and transported to these growth pens.  Months later, once they reach market size they are sold exclusively to seafood distributors in Japan. During our visit to Japan, we will address the insatiable demand for fresh fish and how the world seafood population can be managed in the face of such voracious consumption.

There are several agencies that research "sustainable seafood" such as The Marine Stewardship Council.  This international non-profit organization conducts fishery certification programs to contribute to the health of the world's oceans by promoting sustainable seafood to consumers.  By changing the behavior of consumers and rewarding companies who have an active management program, this vital food resource is maintained for the ever-expanding worldwide human population.  We interview spokespeople from these agencies to get an idea of the scope of the problems and the solutions which hopefully will extend the decline.