Today I have been getting ready for my upcoming trip to Mexico for work. I am presenting at the 40th meeting of the Desert Fishes Council and this year they are having their meeting in Cuatrociénegas, Coahuila, Mexico.

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Cuatrociénegas is a very cool place for the conference. The Desert Fishes Council and University of Texas has a research station there because of the area’s scientific importance. Near the town of is a large complex of isolated springs which has a large number of endemic species. There are 89 species found there that are protected by Mexican Endangered Species law:

The valley has more than 60 mammal species, 145 birds, 60 reptiles, 8 amphibians 17 fishes, 28 mollusks, 19 scorpions and 883 species of vascular plants. Such high diversity in such a small area in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert is remarkable for that region, not to mention that probably more than 70 species are endemic, or found here and nowhere else, among these are 9 reptiles, 10 fishes, 13 mollusks, 7 crustaceans, 4 scorpions, 3 insects and 26 plants, primarily of the cactus and composite (sunflower) families. Thus, the valley of Cuatrociénegas ranks near the Galapagos Islands in terms of the world’s unique ecosystems. Much of the valley’s high biodiversity, and especially endemism, is associated with an incredibly diverse complex of thousands of geothermal springs, lakes and streams; habitats that are now threatened by a diversity of factors. Eighty nine especies from this valley are now listed in the Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-ECOL-2001 (Mexico’s endangered species list); 16 as endangered, 39 as threatened and 34 more are provided special protecion.

While not at the conference, I I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the very cool wildlife there including the endemic aquatic box turtle, the endemic slider turtle, and the many endemic fish. I’m planning on doing some snorkeling in the springs and to try some underwater photography. However, Hot Wife somehow managed to accidentally donate my snorkel to Goodwill this morning so there will be a scramble in the morning to purchase another one before my flight. I had recently bought a new snorkel keeper strap at a local dive shop and put the snorkel by the door for packing and somehow it made its way into a box of donations for Goodwill. She also donated my Colorado Rockies hat. She felt really bad about her mistake so I plan on eventually forgiving her.

Getting there will be a bit of an adventure. Over 70 fish biologists are flying into Austin Texas and then traveling by van pool to Cuatrociénegas. I volunteered to drive one of the vans and will be taking a group on the 8 hour drive from Austin to Cuatrociénegas. We’ll first pick up vehicle permits and tourist cards at the Mexican consulate in Austin and then drive to the border town of Eagle Pass (which is in Maverick county which incidentally is the home of the original maverick). After crossing the Rio Grande river, it’s another few hours to Cuatrociénegas. In total, it should be about an 8 hour drive.

All in all, even without somehow obtaining a snorkel in the next 10 hours during a Federal holiday, it should be a great trip.