(Δ=State of change) ongoing annotations Reductive woodcut prints with hand coloring chalk, stencil, and collage. Varied edition of 7. Installed with poplar rack built by Lucas Zuniga. Approx. 72 x 72 inches. 2018.
1/9/2018 Three dolphins greeted us this morning in the highest reaches of the estuary. The tide had come in, almost violently, and the dolphins rode it in eating along the way. The muddy water makes it impossible to see the totoaba and corvina which are the local fish species that live amongst the shrimp and other zooplankton, whose namesake comes from the Greek root “plantoks” meaning drifter or wanderer.
As the sun set we noticed four, and then eight, twinkling lights in the Upper Gulf, they are illegal fishing rigs. Fishing was banned in the Estuary and Upper Gulf by the Mexican Government due to overfishing and black market sales of totoaba swim bladders to China. The use of gillnets or “ghostnets” entangles the severely endangered vaquita, a small endemic dolphin, with a population of only 30. When ghost nets are released into the estuary they drift around like zooplankton; transported by ambient currents. So transparent and ephemeral that they are often lost. Unlike the river, water in the sea feels like it is moving in every direction at once.
Other than the dolphins we haven’t seen a soul in the estuary because it is protected for conservation by the Alto Golfo de California Biosphere Reserve.The Cucapá, whose livelihoods are deeply linked to fishing, were dramatically restricted from the reserve and receive a few fishing licenses year. The Cucapá are also facing extinction, displaced from their own land and waters. They have many ideas as to how to act as custodians for the vaquita and fish of the estuary but are restricted by a federal government and environmental organizations unwilling to listen.