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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

Planning Expedition Report: Blue Revolution Activated!New UpdateDid you detect a rumble coming from the direction of Baja California Sur last week? Well, that was the sound of five minds getting blown during an 8-day, 2500 km expedition around the peninsula with three leaders from Barra de Potosi. Six years ago, I visited Baja with an inkling of an idea for how to support…Read More →Mission Accomplished! Five Year Progress ReportPhase 1 is complete and we have accomplished all we set out to do five years ago. Let's just have a celebratory breach about that before we continue, shall we? Read More →Whales of Guerrero Season 4 Results 2017 was an incredible year for the Whales of Guerrero Research Project and I am so grateful for our supporters' continued commitment to ocean health and the people and communities around Barra de Potosi. This was a turning point for the Whales of Guerrero Research Project; we saw more whales than we’ve ever seen, recorded months of continuous ocean sounds, expanded…Read More →Season 4 is Underway, Andale!So much good can be done when a little group of people applies their energy to helping the ocean and its coastal caretakers. So here's the sugar:I just got back from an inspiring conference about marine mammal protected areas and an even more inspiring visit to Barra de Potosí. I spent the day on the water with our superstar intern,…Read More →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 →

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