[Ocean Oasis - Behind the Scenes]  Satellite image of the Baja California peninsula and Gulf of California See Spanish version
[The Researchers]
[OCEAN OASIS toc] [Behind the Scenes] [The Filmmakers] [The Researchers] [The Soundtrack] [Scientific Steering Committee] [Summerhays Films] [San Diego Natural History Museum] [PRONATURA] [CinemaCorp of the Californias] [Credits] Acknowledgements [Site Index]

Exequiel Ezcurra, Ph.D., San Diego Natural History Museum

Exequiel Ezcurra in helicopter, frame from Ocean Oasis, copyright 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias
"Today some naturalists and I will take you to a place we love ... to search for the answer to a single question: Why do this land and this sea create an oasis?"
—Exequiel Ezcurra, Ocean Oasis

Exequiel Ezcurra was hired by the San Diego Natural History Museum in February,1998, as head of the Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias. Formerly a researcher at Mexico's Universidad Nacional Autónoma (UNAM), Exequiel has a long-lasting interest in Mexican deserts, their ecology, and their conservation. During 1998 Exequiel concentrated on building partnerships to enhance scientific cooperation across the border. As a result, many collaborative projects are now being initiated, including programs for the recovery of endangered trans-border species, and the publication of books describing the unique ecology of the Baja California/Southern California region. Exequiel obtained an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. at the University College of North Wales, studying the vegetation, climate, and hydrology of the Gran Desierto in northern Mexico. Since then he has oriented his research towards the ecology of desert plants. For his work to promote conservation in Mexico he was given the "Julian Hayden" Award by the Sonoran Alliance, PRONATURA's Recognition for Conservation, and the 1994 Conservation Biology Award by the International Society for Conservation Biology. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Vegetation Science.

His main areas of interest are the ecology of arid zones, the biogeography of desert plants, the application of mathematical modeling in natural resource management and ecology, and the conservation and management of natural resources in developing countries. He has lectured in various universities in Mexico, Argentina, and Uruguay. A prolific writer, Exequiel has published more than fifty research articles in international journals, fourteen book chapters and two books on the ecology of the Basin of Mexico, and a large number of essays and articles for newspapers and popular journals. For more information, including a selection of recent publications, see Dr. Ezcurra's bio on the museum's website.

Pacific manta and Iliana from Ocean Oasis, copyright 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias
"I cannot stay away. Coming home to Baja California is like walking across a thousand miles of sand and finding a pool of water. It is an oasis for my heart."

— Iliana Ortega, Ocean Oasis

Iliana Ortega Bacmeister, marine biologist and on-screen naturalist

A native of Mexico City, Mexico, Iliana Ortega Bacmeister holds a Bachelors Degree in biology from National University of Mexico (U.N.A.M.).

Her research experience includes the coral reefs off the coast of Quintana Roo in the Mexican Caribbean, and fish ecology in Michoacan, Mexico. She has coordinated the Community Ecotourism and Elaboration of the Program for Public Use of the north part of the Biosphere Reserve Sian Ka'an, Quintana Roo, Mexico, one of the largest protected areas of Mexico, working for Amigos de Sian Ka'an, an NGO. She has been a member of the Conservation and Protection Program for Marine Turtles, Tamaulipas and Oaxaca, Mexico. A member of the natural history staff onboard the ships Sea Bird and Sea Lion, explaining the biology, ecology, and interpretation of marine mammals, fish, marine invertebrates, birds, and flora of Baja California and the Sea of Cortés, working for Lindblad Expeditions, an American company based in New York City and Seattle, WA. She is a naturalist guide inside the biosphere reserve Sian Ka'an for special groups. She has also worked with Management of Natural Resources and ICF Kaiser, International (environmental consulting agencies), reviewing environmental impact assessments and audits in different states of Mexico and South America.

Currently, she is an independent environmental consultant, doing environmental impact assessments for ecotourism business and national aquariums.

"It is sad for me when an old whale dies. I feel that I have lost a friend. But I know that his body will give life to others. It will be food for sharks, other fish, and even birds..."
— Mercedes Guerrero-Ruiz, Ocean Oasis

Mercedes Eugenia Guerrero-Ruiz, on-screen naturalist

Mercedes Guerrero-Ruiz is a native of Mexico. She holds a bachelor's degree in marine biology from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur. Guerrero-Ruiz is currently working on her master's degree on "Sustainable Management on Coastal Zones" at UABCS.

Her expertise is concentrated in marine mammals and whales—gray whales, fin whales, and killer whales. She has participated in research projects, filmings, and conferences from Mexico to Alaska and has co-published several significant papers in her field. She is a teacher of anatomy and mammalogy at the Universidad Autónoma of Baja California Sur; has lead high school conferences, has been a teacher-adviser for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and a biology teacher at the high school level in Baja California.

"Almost all the Heermans Gulls and Elegant Terns in the world come here to breed...as many as half a million birds nest on this island at once. Collectively, these birds catch 65 tons of fish each day—one sardine at a time. That points to one conclusions: This ocean must be incredibly rich."
— Enriqueta Velarde, Ocean Oasis

Enriqueta Velarde, Ph.D., on-screen naturalist

Enriqueta Velarde is currently a researcher at the Universidad Veracruzana in Jalapa, Veracruz. She assisted the film's production on marine birds, a subject on which she ranks among Mexico's topmost experts. She also appears on-screen in the Isla Rasa sequences. Enriqueta has worked for more than 20 years studying the Heermann's Gull populations of Isla Rasa and the Sea of Cortés. Her research has centered on behavior and ecology of seabirds with application to conservation and management of the commercially important fish on which they feed. She has taught at the University of Mexico for 23 years.

The Filmmakers | The Researchers | The Soundtrack | Scientific Steering Committee
Summerhays Films | San Diego Natural History Museum | PRONATURA | CinemaCorp of the Californias
Film Credits | Acknowledgements

Behind the Scenes | Site Index | Ocean Oasis

San Diego Natural History Museum & PRONATURA
© 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias