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Whales Of Guerrero, Mexico

An exciting effort to study humpback whales in a little explored area of Mexico and support sustainable community development.

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Overview

The Pacific coast of Mexico provides important habitat for approximately 2,000 humpback whales that mate and calf there during the winter months and migrate north to California, Oregon, and Washington in summer. While scientists have known of the whales' presence in the area for years, there have been no formal studies of them in this southern region of the Eastern North Pacific.

The Whales of Guerrero Research Project was launched in 2013 to generate needed data about humpback whales in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. The project also aims to raise awareness about the presence of whales in the region and to support the local economy through the development of responsible whale and wildlife tourism programs.

Our initial focus is on the Bahia de Petatlan, a 75-square mile bay that runs along a pristine 12-mile stretch of beach and is part of a unique, unprotected region in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. In addition to humpback whales, this small area is host to eight distinct ecosystems and many important marine species including sea turtles, manta rays, rough-toothed dolphins, and many more.

Threats

Bahia de Petatlan, Laguna Potosi, and the small fishing village of Barra de Potosi are in danger of environmental degradation due to lack of scientific information about the presence of threatened and sensitive species including humpback whales. Proposals for commercial tourism development of this area have been considered in recent years, and the threat of future development is real. In response, a local group of concerned citizens is seeking Natural Protected Area status for this important ecosystem. Our research on the wintering humpback whale population will greatly enhance the status of the application and could help tip the scales in favor of protection.

Moreover, local fish stocks have declined and impoverished local fishermen are growing desperate. In many cases they are resorting to illegally harvesting sea turtle eggs and selling them as a means of survival. We are working with local fishermen to create a viable and responsibly conducted whale watching tourism operation to help alleviate this pressure and to provide economic incentives that support conservation.

How We Are Helping

Under the leadership of project founder and director Katherina Audley we are coordinating an international team of researchers and educators to generate needed information about humpback whales in the Bahia de Petatlan region and mobilize community support for marine conservation. Our immediate goals are:

Through our work we aim to draw national and international attention to the ecological importance and sensitivity of the Bahia de Petatlan and to support current community-driven efforts to seek formal Protected Area status. Moreover, we are working to boost the local economy through the development of responsible nature-tourism programs that will not only help the local community, but will also create a stronger case for ecological preservation.

Photos

Project Updates

Whaley Whaley Good StoryHave I got a whale of a story for you! For those of you who have been following along, you may remember the day we found our first match between a whale tail photographed in Guerrero, Mexico and the same whale seen off the coast of California. Given that there are about 21,000 humpback whales in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean,…Read More →The Whales of Guerrero Research Project's Question of the YearWhen I wrote last February, we were in the heart of our season. The work days were long and sleep was a precious commodity. WELL, let me tell you, it's a whole new world from the vantage point of 8 hours of sleep and the best season ever under our belts! Woohoo! 3 years down, 2 to go! Not that we've…Read More →The Case of the Missing Whale and Other StoriesI’m writing to you from sunny Barra de Potosi, where we are in week 7 of our most ambitious and interesting season yet with 3 weeks to go before we all fall into our hammocks for a very long nap.First of all, the question of the season is: WHERE ARE THE WHALES? This year we have seen about 110 whales…Read More →Join Our Research Team in 2016; Internship Applications Now Being Accepted Apply to join the Whales of Guerrero Research Project's team of interns, educators and scientists in 2016! We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for interns to join our research and education team for the field season of January - March 2016. Find details below: Whales of Guerrero Research Project Internship Announcement Winter 2016 - Deadline September 1st,…Read More →Conservation by the Numbers, With a Side of ChampagneGreetings friends! I've been back for two weeks, catching up on sleep and crunching data to get ready for upcoming conferences and meetings with colleagues. Since I'm in a numbers state of mind, let's do this update by the numbers… 1.) 63! In 10 weeks, we collected 63 beautiful new flukes in our catalog which are beginning to wing their way around the…Read More →

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