Monarch Watch Blog

Monarch Watch Trip to Mexico (overview)

Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 3:10 pm by Chip Taylor
Filed under Mexico, Monarch Migration, Monarch Population Status | No Comments »

We have just returned from our annual trip to Mexico to purchase tags recovered at the overwintering sites. This is just a brief overview of the trip – a more detailed report will be posted soon.

  1. We purchased about 1,000 tags – some 400 over budget. We received several on-site contributions and we will acknowledge these in the longer report. It will take a couple of week to process this many tags – please be patient a bit longer.
  2. Monarchs are heading north and the colony at El Rosario is breaking up rapidly. As reported via Dplex-L, monarchs were seen in Austin, TX on the 6th. This is right on time – end of first week of March – for the earliest monarchs to be reported inland from the coast in Texas and is consistent with the earliest departures from the colonies sometime in the last week of February.
  3. The condition of the monarchs at the overwintering colonies is exceptionally good. The number of tattered and worn monarchs relative to those in excellent to near perfect condition is small.
  4. Overwintering mortality appears to have been minimal.
  5. Federal police have a presence in Angangueo and we heard no large trucks rolling through town in the middle of the night.
  6. We met and interacted with a number of tours and individuals who were in the monarch area. More on that later.
  7. I spent 4 days working with a film crew from Disney at El Rosario. Disney has commissioned a series of nature films and this film about pollination and pollinators is scheduled for theaters in 2010-2011. The working title for the film is Naked Beauty – but the bets are the title will be changed in time to something like “Nature’s Beauty: A love story that feeds the world”. The film crew was the largest I’ve worked with and there were three cameras going most of the time. The footage will be spectacular and like no other to date.

Monarchs are going to get a lot of press as a result of the Disney production. While acting as the science advisor for this portion of the Disney film, I spoke with reporters from England, France, Germany, Argentina, Mexico, and the United States. All are expected to file stories on the film and on monarchs in highly visible publications.

While we were in Mexico, at least two other film crews from National Geographic and Discovery Channel were making short documentaries on monarchs. I don’t know whether the latter two productions had scientific advisors or had any scientific content.

Oh, and don’t expect to see any people in the Disney film. It’s all about the pollinators. Once the production goes to DVD, there will be lots of background on the different pollinators and it is possible then that you may see a scientist or two and hear their voices as various shots, mostly those not used in the final cut, are shown.

More to come!

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