VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


The Last Untamed Mexican River

I am happy to announce that National Geographic Society / Waitt Grants Program has funded an expedition to the last untamed Mexican River: The San Pedro Mezquital. Together with my friend and colleague Jaime Rojo, we will travel along the three Mexican States that the river crosses: Durango, Sinaloa, and Nayarit. More importantly, this river supplies most of the freshwater for the largest Biosphere Reserve wetland area in the Gulf of California: Marismas Nacionales.

As a function of its relatively pristine state, the San Pedro Mezquital crosses and nurtures unique ecosystems with rare floral and faunal assemblages, as well as singular traditional cultures ranging from the Huichol People in the high sierras to the Meztitlán swamp fishermen in the mangroves of Marismas. Because of its sheer inaccessibility, it has received relative protection from the anthropogenic threats experienced by other riparian ecosystems in Mexico. With the help of several NGOs such as WWF-Mexico and SuMar, we will be able to make this incredible journey. This expedition is of immediate importance for both science and conservation of the San Pedro River, and will serve to further future collaborative efforts of conservationists, academics, and the Mexican government in the protection of an untouched land-ocean connection.

In collaboration with Jaime, we will be posting our adventures, with images and videos, and important scientific findings that we will get during our expedition.

Photo by Octavio Aburto / WWF


Learn More

Winner of the 2012 Photo Contest: Octavio Aburto


  1. Paul Liffman
    United States
    July 6, 2016, 12:39 am

    The piece needs to be updated to reflect the imminent danger of the dam that would destroy the very aesthetic, social and economic importance of the free-flowing river that it describes.
    La peli debe ser actualizada para reflejar el peligro inminente de la presa que destruiría la misma importancia social, económica y estética del río libre que describe.

  2. Alma
    September 12, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Kuddos for the fantastic documentary! thank you! I ‘m second what Javier Ceja Navarro (and the others) is mentioned. Please help us to stop the dam project (although the machinery/equipment to start digiging is already in the land, near the river in Nayarit, so is can a happen if we don’t do anything about it)). We need the water, we need our rivers.

  3. Javier Ceja Navarro
    United States
    September 10, 2013, 11:54 pm

    Dear Octavio, congratulations on this beautiful document. I was wondering whether you know about the plans to destroy the entire system represented by the San Pedro under the cover of “development”. The already authorized (nobody know who authorized it) program seeks to cream a dam as part of the program Sistema Hidráulico Interconectado del Noroeste (SHINO). There is no need to even mention this to you but it is clear that the ecological impact of this project will be of big proportions, destroying those rare floral and faunal assemblages that you beautifully describe. It would be great that you, through your sponsors, could spread the situation to a global level…

  4. Carlos Herrera Lazarini
    Guadalajara, jalisco
    July 3, 2013, 4:55 pm

    Falto mencionar a los asentamientos Coras que están inmediatos al río. Buen material

  5. Carlos Herrera Lazarini
    Guadalajara, jalisco
    July 3, 2013, 4:49 pm

    falto mencionar a las comunidades de origen Cora, Muy buen material.

  6. Eduardo Rios Patron
    Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
    January 26, 2013, 8:23 pm

    Congratulations to the authors of this documentary and to National Geographic for let it us know it. The work of WWF México in San Pedro’s watershed through its Water Program has a huge impact not only in the region but also in the design of watershed management public policy. It would be nice to have other documentaries for Rio Bravo’s watershed and Oaxaca coastal.