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Whales of Guerrero Research Project

Help study humpback whales and dolphins and explore the unique biodiversity of Southwest Mexico.

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  • Learn alongside marine biologists as they conduct critical conservation research on the whales and dolphins in the region. See first-hand in the field how the use of drones assists in marine mammal research efforts.
  • Visit the mangrove-filled lagoon directly behind the village of Barra de Potosí, a nursery for hundreds of species of fish and birds including roseate spoonbills, boobies, white pelicans, herons, and egrets.
  • Spend one day exploring the nearby city of Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa and another visiting the Sierra highlands and a local sustainably-run coffee plantation.

Oceanic Society invites you to beautiful Barra de Potosí on Mexico's Pacific coast to immerse yourself in this region's rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity and to participate in the Whales of Guerrero Research Project.

As a participant on this expedition you will have the chance to help scientists better understand the important humpback whale population that inhabits the area during the winter months. For 3-4 days, visitors will work alongside American and Mexican scientists and local fishermen to spot, identify, and make scientific observations of humpback whales and any of four species of dolphins found in the area. We also frequently observe olive ridley sea turtles, manta rays, golden cow nosed and spotted eagle rays, red-billed tropic birds, frigate birds, and countless other noteworthy marine species. In addition to learning humpback whale fluke identification, the use of drones in field research, and hydro-acoustic recording techniques, you will also assist with recording other key ecosystem data. Our citizen scientists come away with a wealth of knowledge about humpback whale behavior and biology and the unique experience of being a part of a truly pioneering project.

We will also take time to explore the diverse surrounding ecosystems that include mangrove forests, salt flats, sea turtle nesting beaches, and sierra highlands, and we'll explore quaint local towns, sustainable farms, and more.

Trip Dates & Cost

2019: February 16–25 From $3,100 / person. Group limit 12 (minimum 6).

* Single supplement $700. Trip prices do not include international airfare. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.


Katherina Audley is the founder and director of the Whales of Guerrero Project, an effort to study and protect humpback whales and support community development on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Fifteen years of marine mammal studies have brought her up close to whales, dolphins, and pinnipeds in Alaska,Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, and New Zealand. Katherina has worked in Bahía de Potosí, Mexico for the past 16 years.

Eric Ramos is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center in new York City in the area of animal behavior and comparative psychology training. He has been working as a field researcher and trip leader with Oceanic Society since 2011, leading boat-based research trips with volunteers and students to gather data on the population of bottlenose dolphins at Turneffe Atoll, Belize.


Note: "B, L, D" in the itinerary indicate which meals are included in the trip price: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner.

Day 1: Arrive Barra de Potosi
Upon arrival into Zihuatanejo Ixtapa International Airport, we will transfer you to your hotel. This evening, there will be a brief orientation and welcome dinner. (D)

Days 2: Whale and Dolphin Monitoring
Today we will be out on the water with our primary objective to assist with research on humpback whales and dolphins and document other marine life encountered. In the evening, project director Katherina Audley will give a talk on the project's research and conservation work. (B, L)

Day 3: Tour Petatlán, Laguna Valentin, and the Soledad de Maciel Ruins
Following breakfast, we will visit the charming coastal city of Petatlán, which is known for its old church which houses the famous 17th century picture- the Sanctuary of the Padre Jesús de Petatlán. We will then take a boat ride to view birds at Laguna Valentin, a mangrove-filled lagoon, which is a nursery for hundreds of species of fish and birds including roseate spoonbills, boobies, white pelicans, herons, and egrets. In the afternoon, following lunch, we will visit the archeological site of Soledad de Maciel, locally known as “La Chole” where Mesoamerican ruins have been found. (B, L).

Day 4: Whale and Dolphin Study, Afternoon Community Workshop
Today, we will go out on the water again to study humpback whales and dolphins. This afternoon, we will go to a local library to work with children and teach them about science and conservation. This evening, we will have a lecture on dolphins, and give a presentation on our drone work. (B, L)

Day 5: Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa, Visit El Parthenon, Shop at the Local Markets
Following breakfast, we will visit the city of Zihuatanejo. While here, we will tour El Parthenon of El Negro, a seaside mansion of a former police chief who was later charged for smuggling weapons and racketeering. We will then visit the beach town of Ixtapa where we can pick up locally grown coffee, vanilla, tamarind, and coconut candy at the city public market, visit art shops, take a stroll at the pier, and have a bowl of pazole. (B, L)

Day 6: Whale and Dolphin Study, Village Art Show
We will spend the morning out on the water monitoring humpback whales and dolphins. This afternoon, we will attend a village art show where one can purchase locally crafted artesanias, “handicrafts.” (B, L)

Day 7: Sierra Highlands Coffee Plantation
Today, we will have a full day to explore the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, one of the world’s most diverse cloud forest reserves with thousands of plant and animal species. While here, we will visit a local coffee plantation where Arabica coffee beans are grown and produced. (B, L)

Day 8: Salt Flats and Turtle Refuge Camp
This morning we will visit a nearby town to have a breakfast birria, a spicy stew from the state of Jalisco. We will then take a tour of La Salinera, Guerrero’s salt flats. This afternoon, we will volunteer at a local sea turtle rescue center and if opportunity allows, we will release rehabilitated turtles back into the ocean. (B)

Day 9: Snorkeling and Lagoon Tour
On our final day, we will relax and snorkel the reefs of the nearby lagoon. Following lunch, we can relax by the pool or tour the village of Barra de Potosí one last time to pick up any souvenirs. This evening, we will have a farewell dinner and bonfire celebration. (B, D)

Day 10: Depart Barra de Potosi
You will be dropped off at Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa International Airport in time for your flight home. (B)

Trip cost Includes:

Trip cost does not include:


Our volunteers will stay in a local guest house with comfortable rooms surrounded by tall coconut palm trees and verdant tropical gardens. Each room has a shaded porch area, table and chairs. All rooms have ceiling fans and mini-fridges. The design of the rooms makes use of natural light sources and refreshing tropical breezes. Daily maid service is provided.

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