Animal Prints Banderas Bay
By: Fabio Cupul / Guadalajara University

Banderas Bay region which includes the urban development of Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta, is embedded in a diverse landscape that includes islands, ocean, beaches, mangroves, rivers, mountains, forests and tropical deciduous subcaediza, palm trees and even forests pine and oak. The wide variety of environments and ecosystems of the bay, supporting the growth of a wide range of animal and plant life that represents your true wealth and which supports its appeal and tilt tourism.Banderas Bay is geographically shared by the states of Jalisco and Nayarit, housing over half of the vegetables that are environments in both entities. It is considered one of the richest regions in butterflies from Mexico and the state of Jalisco, as they have been little more than 480 species. It is also recognized as a hot spot or “hot spot” for birdwatchers, who enjoy the contemplation of about 369 species of birds (about 35% of species documented for the country) of aquatic and terrestrial habits.

Bay of Whales
Life is constantly renewed in the mosaic of habitats that make up the bay. So, every year during the months of November to April, gentle giant mammals become the warm coastal waters in a maternity ward in an enclosure watery for love and sex. It is precisely the humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) who, after a long journey of several thousand kilometers from their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chuckchi-move into these waters to give birth to their calves and sow seeds that will become the next generation of cetaceans. In the past, the bay was known as “whales”, probably because the impact caused mammals in the minds of those early observers.

The arrival of life
The sandy beaches are fertile fields for the development of new litters of living beings. This is stated in the annual arrival of turtles, reptiles adapted to the ocean environment but linked to its ancient past Earth, which forces them to return to the sandy shores of the bay to deposit their precious cargo of eggs. Of the five species of sea turtles that potentially reach the Mexican coast, olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) is that almost all nests on the beaches of the region. Importantly, the work of protection and conservation of nests and eggs of turtles annually make the government, educational institutions and NGOs.

Also, below the surface of the ocean life is recreated in strange animal forms which by their booths structures, we would risk calling plants. These vegetables are ways that resemble coral, real animals that form colonies in limestone structures that give strength to his biological organization. The bay is home to at least twelve species of coral, stone called (by its rigid nature), which form colonies in which they gather great diversity of fish and other species that forage, shelter, rest or partner.

Natural Nursery
The islands and mangroves are nurseries where natural cycles of creation constantly occur. The Marieta Islands, north of the bay, purely marine species such as blue-footed boobies (Sula nebouxii) and brown (Sula leucogaster), the terns and bridled tern species (Sterna anaethetus), brown booby (Anous stolidus ) and real (Sterna maxima), Heermann’s gull (Larus heermanni), the Brandt cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus), among others, breed in large colonies ranging from 300 to 30,000 individuals. On land, mangrove systems as the stream El Salado, Laguna El Quelele, Boca de Tomates estuary and Boca Negra, adequate space to provide food and protection for the reproduction of aquatic species. But of them all, stands for filing Boca Negra nesting thirteen species, most aquatic herons.

Magnificent reptiles
Mangroves are environments in which still includes the magnificent figure of the crocodile, beings whose ancestors witnessed the birth and demise of the dinosaurs. Despite having survived the natural world by some 250 million years ago, today we see with sadness how are diminished and corralled into the bay by thirst expansionist human limits (in the past were depleted by commercial hunting for obtaining your skin), and the innate fear we experience the presence of a predator.More than eight decades ago there were hundreds or even thousands in the region, but now only survive in the bay a couple of hundreds of species of crocodiles in the river or American (Crocodylus acutus), native to the Pacific coast of Mexico and much of Central and South America, manages to live and reproduce successfully in this environment almost urbanized.There is a crocodile that represents danger to humans, however, he fears and flees from his presence.

From fantasy to reality
Other animals that have captivated people in the bay, are those that recall the fantastic, mythical, cruel sea snakes. For many years people of all ages and social status, recount their encounters with mysterious large marine snakes that ply the coastal waters of the town. These snakes have the peculiarity of occasionally beach themselves attracting the attention of people.But a detailed analysis of inert bodies, can transmute from snakes to fish chimeric peaceful. In reality the snake is a long chimeric fish called golden body rowing (Regalecus Glesner), up to 11 meters in length, holds his head in a fin-shaped scarlet plume. Its silhouette resembles those described in sea snakes medieval bestiary.

From reality to fantasy
Contrary to the myth oarfish that became reality, some other animals that inhabit the bay have been transported from reality to myth. The transformation experienced allowed them to play important roles within the cosmic culture of the peoples of indigenous Mexico. Of all animals, white-tailed deer (Odoicoleus virginianus) stands out from the point of view of nutrition and ritual. For the Huichol ethnic group in western country, was and is a symbol of life and fertility. The jaguar (Panthera onca), which fortunately can be found in the rainforests of north and south of the bay, he was associated with political power and the hidden forces of the wizards. The ancient Mexicans said their beautiful mottled skin was the night sky. The green feathers of the macaw (Ara militaris) had great value as an ornament of the gods and men of yesteryear. Today sees its bright green color copies the skies rumbled and nest high in trees in the southern mountains of the bay. Hummingbirds, whose diversity in the area is about thirteen species are of small size and erratic flight faster than in the past were identified by the Aztecs as symbols of blood and war. They believed that the souls of warriors killed in combat, were transferred to the bodies of the hummingbirds.

The dye of the snail
The ethnicities Mixtec, Nahua, and huaves Chontal of Mexico, are appreciation, respect and veneration for a particular species of snail, the purple snail, which is distributed along the coast of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Colima and Jalisco. This particular snail secretes a whitish fluid, frothy, milky, that gradually changes color when it is ejected to the outside. In contact with air, the fluid acquires shades ranging from yellow to blue-green until it finally reaches its stabilization in a beautiful and intense purple hue. The purple dye gives its name to the snail (scientifically called Plicopurpura pansa patula) and is responsible for its use by the pre-Hispanic men to dye their clothes, because that shade a symbol of greatness and power. A story that loses its origins in real time, that during the conquest of Mexico, took a combative encounter between the natives of the bay and the Spanish adventurers. The story goes that about 20,000 Indians had dressed in their clothes carrying weapons of war and decorated with small flags pigment dyed purple shell. In this not very pleasant meeting, was derived the present name of the bay: flags. New to science Banderas Bay is a tremendous box biological surprises because, when it was believed that the tenants knew everything about animals, science discovers a new species: that is, bring to life creatures that neither deep our imagination conceived their existence. In 1994, he achieved the discovery of a beautiful tarantula Brachypelma ocher klaasi dubbed. Three years later, the mud turtle, Kinosternon Chimalhuacan, described for the southern state of Jalisco, but it was not until 2003, when it is discovered in the bay. More recently, in January 2006, published the discovery of a new species of freshwater leeches (Haementeria lopezi). The discovery of new species as described above, invites us to reflect on the need to know and understand the animal nature within the Bahia de Banderas, because only then can the conservation and use to ensure their future existence. But the enthusiasm and financial resources to do so should not be limiting, the constraints are time and indifference, unfortunately, have the table set for a couple of decades (unless we do something drastic), annihilate what nature has built millions of years of evolution. As quoted by Dr. Juan Luis Cifuentes Lemus, a leading Mexican biologist and naturalist, “who knows the nature and its elements, wants and who wants to protect and conserve.”

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