National Geographic and the Gulf of California, a Legacy of Research and Conservation

Field Inspection link

When the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration toured the southwestern portion of the Gulf of California in Mexico last week, visiting ecosystems, meeting and listening to researchers working in the region, it was a dream come true for John Francis, National Geographic Society Vice President for Research, Conservation and Exploration. Francis, the deputy chairman of the CRE, had been encouraging the committee to visit the Gulf for years. It is a place close to his heart, not only because he spent much time doing his own research and producing National Geographic television programming there, but also because of the dozens of grants the CRE has made to scientists working in the region.

At the conclusion of the expedition, National Geographic Voices interviewed John Francis about what National Geographic has done in the Gulf area and whether the field inspection for which he had advocated had met his expectations.

DB: You have long experience with the Gulf of California, including your research work with marine mammals and the many National Geographic Expeditions you have accompanied in the region. What is the nature of your association with the region over the years?

JF: I started going to the Gulf of California as part of my research program on California sea lions. During graduate school I regularly attended a marine mammal conference in La Paz which allowed me to get in touch with other researchers and know Mexican scientists and their work in the region.

After that, as a producer of National Geographic films, I spent two weeks shooting Humboldt squid in the Gulf, which was absolutely fascinating, and later I lectured aboard Lindblad/National Geographic ships working in the region.

I was also able to collaborate with colleagues John Calambokidis and Diane Gendron by putting Crittercams on blue whales off Isla San Jose. This —> Read More