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Vaquita Presentation - Dr. Lorenzo Rojas Bracho

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From the American Cetacean Society Conference on Nov. 13, 2010, Seaside, California

From the American Cetacean Society Conference on Nov. 13, 2010, Seaside, California

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  • Given their natural rarity, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho and I wrote a paper in the early 90s examining threats. We found that…
  • Here is a photograph of the ship’s radar screen. The bright colored mass is the land close to San Felipe. The Jordan is in the center of the circle with her projected pathin green. The circles represent trawlers and all the tiny dots are fishing pangas with 1-2 gillnets/panga. Here is the boundary of the vaquita reserve literally outlined in boats. This was accomplished through the presence of the very serious enforcers.
  • The critical acoustic stations done by the Koipai would need to be repeated to calibrate them with the new acoustic devices being monitored. Mexico requested that the David Starr Jordan (the ship used in the 1997 survey) return to make another visual estimate to tie new methods into the solid historical estimates of absolute abundance. Abundance estimates require estimating the probability of detecting animals as distance increases. Because the Jordan had done the previous surveys (with the same observers), she was the only ship that we knew could get a valid estimate even if few vaquita remained. The Jordan had another absolutely essential role to play in deploying the buoys that would carry the new acoustic porpoise detectors as we will see shortly. Finally, the waters too shallow for the ship to navigate were surveyed using a high performance trimaran that could sail at survey speed with only 10 knots of wind. The Vaquita Express towed a state-of-the-art acoustic array and also investigated the possibility of using such sailing vessels as part of a future monitoring scheme. I’ll talk about each in more detail.
  • We got those calm conditions twice as much as in 1997 allowing excellent coverage of the range of vauqita. These lines are only 3 miles apart and were accomplished over a period of 2 months. The abundance estimate is not a count of animals, but rather an estimate of density from which we can estimate abundance. These colored polygons show the distribution of vaquita in 1993 (a much smaller survey), 1997 and 2008. We are encouraged to see that the distribution has changed rather little.
  • The critical acoustic stations done by the Koipai would need to be repeated to calibrate them with the new acoustic devices being monitored. Mexico requested that the David Starr Jordan (the ship used in the 1997 survey) return to make another visual estimate to tie new methods into the solid historical estimates of absolute abundance. Abundance estimates require estimating the probability of detecting animals as distance increases. Because the Jordan had done the previous surveys (with the same observers), she was the only ship that we knew could get a valid estimate even if few vaquita remained. The Jordan had another absolutely essential role to play in deploying the buoys that would carry the new acoustic porpoise detectors as we will see shortly. Finally, the waters too shallow for the ship to navigate were surveyed using a high performance trimaran that could sail at survey speed with only 10 knots of wind. The Vaquita Express towed a state-of-the-art acoustic array and also investigated the possibility of using such sailing vessels as part of a future monitoring scheme. I’ll talk about each in more detail.
  • To deal with the likely technical problems in creating an acoustic monitoring scheme in the remote Gulf of California, we brought in the inventors of the acoustic devices to get the project started. Let me introduce you to the case of acousticians. (read slide) The first order of business was testing the equipment before the Jordan arrived and it was time to launch buoys. Jay Barlow invented a vaquita click playback system and the different acoustic devices were tested side-by-side. The Vaquita Express had already been surveying for 2 weeks and found, as we had suspected from Armando’s work, that snapping shrimp were a serious issue. The Vaquita Express was used to find a particularly noisy place and the acoustic devices were tested by playing the vaquita clicks at different distances. The C-POD was able to detect the clicks at the furthest distance (about 900 meters)

Vaquita Presentation - Dr. Lorenzo Rojas Bracho Vaquita Presentation - Dr. Lorenzo Rojas Bracho Presentation Transcript

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ACS FOR THE INVITATION Cheryl M. McCormick END OF THE LINE: THE RECOVERY AND CONSERVATION OF THE VAQUITA Lorenzo Rojas Bracho Armando Jaramillo Legorreta Coordinación de Investigación y Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos 13/ November/2010
    • A brief history of vaquita research and conservation
    • Through the eyes of vaquita recovery team (CIRVA) because we reviewed what is known of this species
    • As any story has …
    We will concetrate on the Heroes
  • BACKGROUND - The International Committee for the Recovery of Vaquita (CIRVA) is an ad-hoc group created in 1997. - Constituted by experts from Canada, Europe, US and Mexico The mandate of this group to create a Recovery Plan for this species
    • be based on the best available scientific information (Heroes)
      • and
    • contemplate and consider the socio-economic impacts of any required regulations on the resource users in the affected areas
    • Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho
    • Miguel Angel Cisneros
    • Oliver Ryder
    • Oscar Pedrín
    • Randy Reeves
    • Ray Hilborn
    • Richard Cudney
    • Steve Buckland
    • Tim Gerrodette
    • Tim Ragen
    • Tony Martin
    • Andy Read
    • Armando Jaramillo
    • Årne Bjørge
    • Barb Taylor
    • Bob Brownell
    • Hector Pérez-Cortés
    • Jay Barlow
    • José Campoy
    • Juan Pablo Gallo
    • Jorge Urbán
    • Lourdes Flores
    • Species Description, Life History and Diet
    Distribution Abundance Risk Factors
  • KEN NORRIS
  • It was a spring day in 1950. I had one more dune to check, one just north of Punta San Felipe. As I walked the dune margin I saw a whitened skull partly protruding from the sand, buried just above the reach of the usual high tide . I couldn’t identify it, except to say that it was obviously a very small porpoise or dolphin. I picked it up, shook the sand out of the brain case, and carried it back to the truck. Unpublished Manuscript, Ken Norris Courtesy Bob Brownell
  • Greg Silber Field Notes of Ken Norris April 28, 1955 San Felipe, Baja California del Norte, Mexico On our way back we spotted porpoises , which I think are an undescribed species …. They were very small, probably under 5 ft. I suspect they are the harbor porpoise, Phocoena , but of an unknown species. They could be heard to exhale and inhale as they swam along . Ken getting food Courtesy Bernd Wursig
  • The species was formally described as Phocoena sinus by Ken Norris and William McFarland in 1958 Imagine describing a new mammal, one unknown to science. For the first time in the history of the earth this animal had been discovered by man! If you described and named your find, you and the animal became linked forever. “My dolphin” you thought, full of proprietary feelings for this critter swimming out there in the ocean, who hadn’t the slightest idea about you. Unpublished Manuscript, Ken Norris
    • AFTER IT WAS DESCRIBED IN 58’ THERE WAS STILL A MISTERY: HOW DOES VAQUITA REALLY LOOK LIKE?
  • 1983 !
  • … TO REALLY KNOW HOW IT LOOKED LIKE
    • Bob Brownell, Lloyd T. Findley , Omar Vidal
    Brownell, R. L., Jr., L. T. Findley, O. Vidal, A. Robles and S. Manzanilla. N. 1987 . External morphology and pigmentation of the vaquita, Phocoena sinus (Cetacea: Mammalia). Marine Mammal Science 3:22-30 Brownell, R.L., Jr. 1983 . Phocoena sinus . Mammalian Species (198):1-3.
  • Brownell et al. (1987): - the vaquita's flippers are proportionately larger; and the dorsal fin is taller and more falcate than in other porpoises - pigmentation pattern is dark gray cape, pale gray lateral field, and white ventral field.
    • - The most conspicuous features of the pigmentation are the relatively large black eye and lip patches
  • First life history and population information
  • ANDY READ ALETA HOHN (Hohn, A.A., A.J. Read, S. Fernandez, O. Vidal and L.T. Findley. 1996 . Life history of the vaquita, Phocoena sinus (Phocoenidae, Cetacea). Journal of Zoology, London 239:235-251)
    • One of the smallest cetaceans
    • Mature vaquitas are about 1.5 m long and weigh about 50 kg
    • Females are slightly larger than males
  • Breeding is seasonal, with most calves produced in March and April; few females appear to breed each year Nothing is known of their mating system, although the large size of testes suggests sperm competition among males CICMM Omar Vidal
  • Silber, G.K. and K.S. Norris. 1991 . Geographic and seasonal distribution of the vaquita, Phocoena sinus . Anales del Instituto de Biología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Serie Zoológica 62(2): 263-268. Silber, G.K. 1990 . Occurrence and distribution of the vaquita Phocoena sinus in the Northern Gulf of California. Fishery Bulletin 88:339-346 Gerrodette, T. et al.1995 Distribution of the vaquita, Phocoena sinus , based on sightings from systematic surveys. 273-281 In : Bjørge, A. and G.P. Donovan (eds) Biology of the Phocoenids. Reports of the International Whaling Commission (Special Issue 16). Cambridge, U.K. Greg Silber Tim Gerrodette
    • All surveys up to now indicate that the center of vaquita abundance is in the Upper Gulf, particularly in the western perimeter
    • Related to depth (< 50 m; Silber et al., 1994)
    • Bottom sediment type (silt and clay; Gallo y Torre, 1998)
    • (Silber, 1990; Silber and Norris, 1991 ).
  • Rojas-Bracho et al. (2006) The modern range of the vaquita is limited to an area of approximately 4,000 km 2 The species is not known from any other area of the world’s oceans
    • Brownell (1986): ‘ the evidence as it currently stands supports the historical and current geographical range of this species being restricted to the upper part of the Gulf of California’
    • Vaquita is the marine mammal species with the most restricted distribution
    • Difficult to surveys
    • - The animal’s small size, with a triangular dorsal fin up to about 15 cm high;
    • spend most of their time under water, visible only for about 3 seconds at a time
    • surfacing intervals average between a minute and a minute and a half
    • they rarely splash or jump;
    • group size averages only two individuals
    • generally avoid boats and ships.
    •  
  • ONE OF THE FIRST VAQUITA EXPEDITIONS Photographs courtesy Bernd Wursig
  • Randy Wells
  • Barlow, J., T. Gerrodette and G. Silber . 1997 . First estimates of vaquita abundance. Marine Mammal Science 13:44-58 Jay Barlow
    • 224 individuals (CV = 0.39, 95% CI = 106-470)
    • Abundance is likely in the hundreds and probably the low hundreds (Barlow et al . 1997).
    • Obtain as soon as possible a more accurate and precise estimate of abundance based on line transect
    • A two-ship design was preferred to cover deep and shallow waters (<20m).
  • Armando Jaramillo-Legorreta Jaramillo Legorreta, A.M., Rojas Bracho, L. and Gerrodette, T. 1999 . A new abundance estimate for vaquitas: first step for recovery. Mar.Mamm.Sci . 15(4)957-973
  • 567 vaquitas 95% C.I. 177 - 1073 Joint US-Mexico 1997 based on line transect using 3 ships; 3,364 Km covered
    • Rojas Bracho L, BL Taylor. 1999. Risk factors affecting the vaquita (Phocoena sinus). Marine Mammal Science 15 (4): 974 – 989.
    • Taylor, B. and L. Rojas Bracho. 1999 . Examining the risk of inbreeding depression in a naturally rare cetacean, the vaquita ( Phocoena sinus ) . Mar.Mamm.Sci . 15(4).
    Barb Taylor
    • For conservation action to be succesful:
      • - necessary to identify risk factors and classify them according to their importance
    • HABITAT ALTERATION (Brownell, 1982)
      • - POLLUTION
      • - DECREASE OF THE RIO COLORADO FLOW (diversion agriculture and urban use)
    • BYCATCH
    • INBREEDING DEPRESSION ( harmful effects of inbreeding: reduction in the population growth rate expression deleterious alleles)
    • Pollutants (no threat…cleanest blubber)
    • Calambokidis, J., Findley, L.T., Brownell, R.L. Jr. and Barlow, J. 1993 . Chlorinated hydrocarbon concentrations in the Gulf of California harbour porpoise ( Phocoena sinus ). Abstracts, Tenth Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. November, Galveston, Texas, USA. p.13.
    Vaquita were most commonly seen dead in fishing nets. Given their natural rarity we asked: What are the most important threats? Victor Camacho John Calambokidis
    • “ Reduction of nutrients previously injected by the River has impoverished the Upper Gulf and its productivity”
    • However…
    • CIRVA, reviewed info on: Nutrients, Phytoplankton, Zooplankton
    • Alvarez-Borrego (2003): Nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton and zooplankton abundances are high in the estuary and the adjacent Upper Gulf of California. These support a rich marine ecosystem with abundant and diverse fauna, including birds and marine mammals.
    Alvarez-Borrego, S. 2003. Physical and Biological Linkages between the Upper and Lower Colorado Delta. En: D. Rapport, W. Lasley, D. Rolston, N. Nielsen, C. Qualsety A. Damania (eds.). Managing for Healthy Ecosystems. Capítulo 108, pp.1081-1083. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, Fl.
    • Stomachs full, none selective predator (21 species) advantage over specialist species
    • Prey window ~ to those reported for Burmeister and harbor porpoises
    • - Pérez Cortés Moreno, H. 1996 . Contribución al conocimiento de la biología de la vaquita, Phocoena sinus. Tesis de Mastría. Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. México, D.F. 68 pp
    • - Findley,L.T., Nava J.M., and Torre, J. 1995 . Food habits of Phocoena sinus (Cetacea: Phocoenidae). Abstracts Eleventh Biennal Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, 14-18 December, Orlando, Florida, EUA
    Héctor Pérez Cortés Lloyd Findley
    • None of the specimens showed signs of emaciation
    • Mothers and calves sightings often
  •  
    • Norris y Prescott (1961) y Brownell (1982) first indications of incidental mortality in totaba and other gillnets (shark and rays) and shrimp trwalers
    • In seventies Mitchell (1975) Report of the IWC meeting on smaller cetaceans:
      • vaquita’s distribution in gillnets fishing zones represents potential management problems
    • Vidal (1995) documented incidental mortality of 128 vaquitas (1985-92) in entangling nets mesh size 8.5 cm to 30.5 cm
    • Boyer y Silber (1990) y Vidal (1995) guessestimated mortality in 32 and 35 vaquita/yr respectively
  •  
  • D’Agrosa, C., Lennert, C.E. and Vidal, O. 2000 . Vaquita by-catch in Mexico’s Artisanal Gillnets Fisheries: Driving a smal l population to Extinction. Conserv.Biol . 15(4): 1110-1119 Caterina D’Agrosa
    • Fishing effort: number of fishing trips (Gen. Lin. Models)
    • Vaquitas bycaught in gillnets mesh size 7 cm - 15 cm
    • 39 vaquitas/yr (95% CI: 14, 93) for El Golfo de Santa Clara
      • Very low levels of pollutants (DDT total and PCB 9.1 ppm and 0.02 ppm) no threat …cleanest blubber
      • Inbreeding depression (no threat (yet)…many calves, naturally rare)
      • High nutrient concentrations and productivity rates in the Upper Gulf + diet information, health and reproductive status indicate that flow reduction of the CR not a current risk for vaquita
      • Bycatch in gillnets are the highest risk for vaquita survival
    CIRVA CONCLUDED
  •  
    • Acoustic deterrents (Pingers)
    • Seasonal area closures
    • “ No Take” Marine Protected Area
    Mitigation Measures Evaluated
  •  
    • To provide reasonable assurance of vaquita survival would require a complete ban on all gillnets
    • No restriction would be needed for hook-and-line fisheries because there is no known vaquita mortality
    • At least 40% of the recorded sightings have been south of the Biosphere Reserve
    • The Committee concluded that the Reserve boundaries should be redrawn to enclose the entire “core area”
  • current Reserve current line proposed boundary
  • Gillnets and trawlers banned VAQUITA REFUGE(2005) Total Surface 1 263.77 km 2
  •  
    • 1. Vaquita by-catch be reduced to zero as soon as possible
    • √ 2. The southern boundary of the Biosphere Reserve be expanded to include all known habitat of the vaquita
    • 3. Gillnets and trawlers be banned in the enlarged Biosphere Reserve in the following sequence:
    • √ (a) Eliminate large-mesh gillnets (6 inch stretch mesh or greater)
    • √ (b) Cap the numbers of pangas at present levels
    • √ (c) Restrict fishing activities to residents of San Felipe, El Golfo de Santa Clara and Puerto Peñasco
    • Eliminate medium-mesh gillnets (i.e. all those except chinchorro de linea)
  • Stage Three (to be completed by January 1, 2002)
    • √ Eliminate all gillnets and trawlers
    • Trawlers reduced from >250 to 100
    • This year first time no trwaling within BR (Campoy pers.comm)
    • √ - Effective enforcement of fishing regulations begin immediately:
    • √ - Acoustic surveys be started immediately to:
      • monitor abundance.
      • Determine seasonal movements
  • Tierra Trawlers Pangas DSJ Límite Refugio Vaquita
  • - Vaquita emitS high frequency, narrow band; clicks: fundamental frequencias centered between 128 and 139 KHz, 11-28 KHz wide; (Silber, 1991). - Other species use broader band or lower frequencies ACÚSTICA PASIVA : DETECTOR MARSOPAS
  • Passive Acoustics to study habitat use of vaquita
    • During 10 yrs we used an acoustic detector on board a small boat in fixed stations all around the potential distribution area of vaquita
    • The locations of certain vaquita acoustic detections are between Consag Rocks and San Felipe Bay, in a restricted north – south range.
    Jaramillo-Legorreta, Rojas-Bracho and Urban (2005)
    • The acoustic detection rate decreased ~60% (1996-2007; Jaramillo-Legorreta, 2008)
    • Historic graph triggered current conservation actions
    zero vaquitas detected
    • √ - Research be started immediately to develop alternate gear types and techniques to replace gillnets
    • √ - Development of a program to promote COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT and widespread EDUCATION and public awareness of the importance of the Biosphere Reserve and the vaquita and the relevance of its protection as a Mexican and world heritage. Development of PUBLIC SUPPORT is critical to the success of this conservation program.
    List of Recommendations
    • √ - Consideration be given to compensate fishermen for lost income resulting from the gillnet ban and develop socioeconomic alternatives
    List of Recommendations
    • √ - The international community and non-governmental organizations be invited to join the Government of Mexico and provide technical and financial assistance to implement the conservation measures described in this Recovery Plan and to support the continued conservation activities of the Biosphere Reserve.
    List of Recommendations
  •  
  •  
  • Bernardo Villa-Ramírez One of Mexico’s foremost mammalogists described the species as ‘seriously endangered’ and ‘on the border of extinction’. Villa-R., B. (1976) Report on the status of Phocoena sinus , Norris and McFarland 1958, in the Gulf of California. Anales del Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Serie Zoología , 47 , 203-208. Villa-R., B. (1993) Recovery plan for the vaquita, Phocoena sinus . Contract report to Marine Mammal Commission, Washington, DC. National Technical Information Service Report PB93-169415. 36 pp.
    • 1978 Villa-Ramírez includes vaquita in his list of endangered and rare wildlife species of Mexico
    • First Recovery plan for the vaquita, Phocoena sinus
    • Failed:
      • lack of transparency in their works
      • to analyse risk factors affecting vaquita
    • Management hindered by lack of agreement over which risk factors were most significant.
    • National Progress Report (Mexico to IWC) (Fleischer, 1996, 263)
    • Environmental change from reduced freshwater flow of the Colorado River was cited as a ‘major cause’ of the declines.
    • The IWC was critical of the assertions (IWC, 1996, 173)
      • Explicitly rejected the report’s reasoning concerning causation,
      • noted that no evidence had been presented to support the environmental hypothesis and that ….
      • ‘ the current incidental mortality is the cause for concern’
    • 1993 Totoaba gill nets banned (mesh size 12 inches and greater)
    • 1993 Decree creating Biosphere Reserve of the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta is published.
  • President of Mexico, F. Calderón and Minister of Environment and Nat. Resources SEMARNAT J.R. Elvira-Quezada Luís Fueyo National Comm. of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) José Campoy Director Biosphere Reserve Upper Gulf of CA and Delta Colorado River, (CONANP) Oscar Ramírez Director Protected Sp Program (CONANP)
  • PROGRAMA DE ACCIÓN DE ESPECIES PRIORITARIAS PACE-VAQUITA: PRIMERAS ACCIONES REALES DE CONSERVACIÓN PACE VAQUITA IMPLEMENT CIRVA’S RECOMMENDATIONS
  • ACTIONS
    • Eliminate gillnets
    • Buy-out/rent-out
    • Enforcement
    • Transparency and social control
    • Alternative fishing gear
    • New fisheries
    • Aquaculture
    • Socioeconomic alternatives
    • New buisness alternatives
    • Asistence in process
    • Education and culture
    • Monitoring the population
    • The number of registered pangas engaged in gillnet fisheries was estimated to be 1000 in 2007
    • C urrently 242 have been permanently removed through the PACE program
    • In addition, 190 pangas have replaced their gillnets by other fishing gear
    • Remaining: 650-750
    • It is foreseen to eliminate all gillnets before 2012 (replacing the remaining for alternative gear
    • Gerrodette, T., B.L. Taylor, R. Swift, S. Rankin, A.M. Jaramillo-Legorreta, L. Rojas-Bracho . ( in press ). A combined visual and acoustic estimate of 2008 abundance,and change in abundance since 1997, for the vaquita, Phocoena sinus
    • Gerrodette, T. and L. Rojas-Bracho ( in press ). Estimating the success of protected areas for the vaquita, Phocoena sinus. Marine Mammal Science.
    • T. A. Jefferson, P.A. Olson, T.R. Kieckhefer, and L. Rojas-Bracho. 2009/2010. Photo-Identification of the Vaquita ( Phocoena Sinus ): The World’s Most Endangered Cetacean. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 53-56
    • Acoustic monitoring of vaquita
  • EXPEDICIÓN VAQUITA 08 DESIGN AUTONOMOUS MONITORIGN SCHEME & ABUNDANCE Funded by US Marine Mammal Commission NOAA R/V David Starr Jordan Boyas y técnicas visuales Vaquita Express Towed acoustic array Aguas somera Koipai Detecciones acústicas estáticas Boyas autónomas
  • Twice as much trackline in good conditions as in 1997 245 VAQUITAS (CV=73%, 95%CI 68-884). The 2008 estimate was 57% lower than the 1997 estimate An average rate of decline of 7.6%/year Distribution in “deep” water about the same as 1997
    • Gerrodette, T. and L. Rojas-Bracho ( in press ). Estimating the success of protected areas for the vaquita, Phocoena sinus. Marine Mammal Science.
  • 1 2 3
  •  
    • Autonomous acoustic monitoring of vaquita
  • MONITORING SCHEME NOAA R/V David Starr Jordan Boyas y técnicas visuales Vaquita Express Towed acoustic array Aguas somera Koipai Detecciones acústicas estáticas Boyas autónomas
    • Dr. Jonathan Gordon
      • St. Andrews University, UK
      • Rainbow click (towed array)
    • Dr. Jay Barlow
      • NOAA Fisheries, USA
      • Simulated porpoise clicks
    • Dr. Tom Akamatsu
      • Institute of Fisheries, Japan
      • A-tags
    • Dr. Armando Jaramillo
      • Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, Mexico
      • Especialista en acústica de vaquita
    • Dr. Nick Tregenza
      • Chelonia, UK
      • C-POD and T-POD
  • SAMPLING DESIGN PROPOSED Sampling network Moorings to refuge marker buoys Hiding moorings inside the refuge
  • WORK IN PROGRESS
    • Mooring systems design and test
    • Deploying and recovery trials
    • Sonar reflectors design
    • C-POD pilot test in refuge marker buoys
    • T. A. Jefferson, P.A. Olson, T.R. Kieckhefer, and L. Rojas-Bracho. 2009/2010. Photo-Identification of the Vaquita ( Phocoena Sinus ): The World’s Most Endangered Cetacean. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 53-56
  •  
    • RANDY REEVES
    • TIM RAGEN
    • INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE ECOLOGÍA
    • SEMARNAT
    • WWF-MEX
    • NOAA/NMFS
    • IFAW
    • MARINE MAMMAL COMMISSION
  • 1er Lugar Categoría de spot de TV. Festival Multimedia, 2do Festival Internacional de Cine (International Film Festival of Baja California) ERNESTO BOLADO CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL
  • MUCHAS GRACIAS POR SU ATENCIÓN TED CRANFORD