The Infiernillo Channel within Comcaac territory plays a key role as a biodiversity reserve for the Gulf of California. Seagrass meadows, mangrove estuaries, seasonal inlets, and small patches of rocky reefs characterize the area. The site contains four species of mangrove: red, black, white, and "sweet," growing at the northern limit of their distribution in the western hemisphere. "Mangroves live at the nexus of sea, soil, and sky and are one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet. They are also one of the most endangered." (Paul Hawken, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation).
In late summer, the Comcaac Blue Carbon team went to the Infiernillo Channel to plant the red mangroves they had been growing and caring for a year in the nursery at Punta Chueca.
On this occasion, the Comcaac team was assisted by Dr. Leonardo Moroyoqui and Engineer Ernesto Beltran, both from Sinaloa, experienced specialists in mangrove restoration. With their guidance, the team selected optimal sites for planting red mangrove (Rizophora mangle) at the Paraíso and Santa Rosa estuaries.
After having participated in training on mangrove restoration, Erika Barnett, community leader of the project and in charge of the nursery in Punta Chueca, wanted to find out if we could expand restoration to include the white mangrove and black mangrove -species with different growth patterns and habitat than that of red mangrove. Following the recommendations of Dr. Moroyoqui and Ing. Beltran, we started with the collection of seeds of these mangrove species as we transplanted red mangroves.
The core team and other community members put the black and white mangrove seeds in bags with soil to be cultivated in the mangrove nursery. Seed collection, planting, and cultivation continued throughout the fall. The team experimented with a new technique of broadcast planting black and white mangroves in the vicinity and north of Santa Rosa. In November, we monitored the sites where the red mangroves were planted and found that most of the seedlings were in good condition, growing, and with new leaves. We also visited the broadcast planting sites of white and black mangroves, noting that most of the area already had seedlings sprouting.
At the same time, the team rebuilt the nursery that was destroyed by Hurricane Hilary, a large, potent Category 4 Pacific hurricane that brought torrential rainfall and gusty winds in August 2023.
The team will continue monitoring the planted plants until the next spring-summer season arrives, depending on rainfall, to transplant the mangroves that are being cared for in the nursery in new areas along the Infiernillo Channel.
These activities advance the goals of planting 25 hectares of mangroves as part of the project "Preparing for climate change through ecosystem restoration, conservation, and blue carbon sequestration," supported by 11th Hour Racing/The Schmidt Family Foundation, and led by Borderlands Restoration Network's Salud Comcaac Project Senior Fellow Laurie Monti. The Infiernillo Channel provides essential ecosystem services such as nursery habitats for economically and ecologically important fishery species. These healthy mangrove and seagrass habitats- known for their high carbon sequestration efficiency- also protect the indigenous Comcaac communities from the effects of intensifying storms and rising sea levels.