Tumamoc Hill Science Café

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La Vaquita Marina: Where Do We Go From Here?

In Collaboration with CEDO, Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Ocean celebrating their 40th anniversary.

La Vaquita Marina, a small porpoise endemic to the upper Gulf of California, is on the precipice of extinction. Global scale economic pressure fuels local gill-net fishing that ensnare the vaquita, driving their numbers down to as few as a dozen individuals remaining. This lecture series with experts from Mexico and the United States will explore what lessons we can learn from an intertwined web of science, local and global economics, politics, black markets, and conservation. What can be taken from this dire situation for future conservation? Where does the middle ground exist and how do we get there?

The talks are held in the library of the Desert Laboratory, the buildings roughly half-way up Tumamoc Hill.

Please reserve a space with Cynthia Anson at  desertlaboratory@gmail.com or 520-629-9455, due to limited seating.

Tumamoc Hill Cliff Art
Photo by Ben Wilder

Spring 2019 Science Café Presenters:

Wednesday, Janurary 16, 2019 at 6:00PM

"Vanishing Vaquitas": Lessons from a Humble Porpoise

David Brown PhotoPresenter: Dr. Barbara Taylor, Research Scientist and Program Leader for Marine Mammal Genetics, Southwest Fisheries Center of NOAA

Vaquitas are on the brink of extinction. This opening lecture considers how we got to this dire situation and puts vaquitas in the context of other marine mammal conservation efforts that have succeeded and failed. Though the fight is not over for vaquitas, it is not too early to apply lessons learned to future conservation efforts. Indeed, one of the most important lessons from the vaquita disaster is that conservations must shift their strategies or risk repeated failures.



Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 6:00PM

Stories from the Field

Presenters: Brooke Bessesen, Author and Pablo Curiel, WWF

Author Brooke Bessesen and World Wildlife Fund marine biologist Pablo Curiel will share personal "Stories from the Field" about their involvement in efforts to help conserve the endangered vaquita porpoise. Brooke is the author of the book Science, Politics, and Crime in the Sea of Cortez. Copies of her book, which has been described as a "conservation detective story" will be available for purchase. To protect the remaining vaquita, Pablo has been engaged in attempts to change the gillnetting practices of local fishermen by designing and promoting alternative fishing technologies in the Sea of Cortez.



Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 6:00PM

Managing Two Species on the Brink of Extinction

David Brown PhotoPresenters: Ana Luisa Figueroa, CONANP and Dr. Marcela Vasquez-Leon, Center for Latin American Studies, University of Arizona

Talk Description Coming Soon!



Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 6:00PM

Local Livelihoods

David Brown PhotoPresenter: Dr. Lorenzo Bracho Rojas, CIRVA and Victor Ricardez, Social Anthropologist, CEDO

Talk Description Coming Soon!


Wednesday, May 15,  2019 at 6:00PM

Lessons to Learn & Market-Driven Solutions

David Brown PhotoPresenter: Dr. Sara Mesnik, NOAA/Southwest Fisheries Center and Peggy Turk Boyer, Director, CEDO

Talk Description Coming Soon!




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