Whales of Guerrero Research Project
Whales of Guerrero (WoG to its friends) is a community–run humpback whale research and education project that studies the local humpback whale and dolphin populations, improves science education regionally and supports informed, responsible ecotourism in the region.
You can find information on how to book a tour to see humpbacks and support responsible ecotourism on the Whales of Guerrero website. (https://www.whalesinmexico.com/whale-watching/book-a-tour-with-a-trained-guide/)
Every winter humpbacks migrate to the area to breed and give birth to their young. Almost everyone who has spent time at Playa Blanca during the winter has seen the whales from the beach as the mothers and babies breach and play. Whales of Guerrero has been collaborating with the fishermen in Barra de Potosi and surrounding areas to do systematic fluke identification and tracking since 2014. Bilingual biologist and educators spend the day on the water photographing the whales and recording their songs together with local captains and community members. They spend the evenings in the village where they have taught the local children about the whales and now virtually every kid will sing you their own whale song on cue and many women make and sell whimsical whale and dolphin themed handicrafts inspired by the project.
This is a fantastic project both for the scientific information it is yielding, for the enthusiasm it is sparking in the locals about whales and their natural environment and for the financial opportunities and responsible leadership that is growing in the community as a result.
With 7 years of data collected about the never before studied humpback whales and dolphins in the region, humpback whales and dolphins now receive more protection on both a local and federal level both in Barra de Potosi and along their entire migration corridor up to British Columbia. The best part of the effort though, is the deeper connection and sense of marine guardianship that the work has cultivated in the community as a result of their true partnership with Whales of Guerrero over all these years.
Every year, during their 10-week winter field season, WoG reaches over 1000 kids in schools, libraries and community events through their marine biodiversity educational programs, which highlight their humpback whale and dolphin discoveries. But they don’t stop connecting with kids and the local community when the whales head north! WoG team members have been facilitating mangrove restoration programs, beach clean ups, mural creation, and so much more. Through their leadership development program, they provide opportunities for Mexican marine biologists, educators and community organizers to develop professional skills as scientists and teach them to share their passion for marine wildlife effectively to the public and how to bring people together and connect them with nature in ways that inspire and empower. Their educational programs include teaching strategy support for science teachers, international cultural exchanges, presentations, fundraisers, movie making and film nights, whale adoption ceremonies, radio broadcasts and field trips.
Their capacity building includes in-the-field training, the development and distribution of marine wildlife guides and best-practices material, in-depth safe whale watch workshops, business and marketing strategy and planning support, English classes and disentanglement support. They also work with women and men in the village who are not captains to develop and provide ecotourism businesses. In home cooking classes for visitors, guided walking tours and pop up mini art fairs are just a few of the programs that WoG has developed with the Barra de Potosí community. WoG also generates opportunities for newly trained ecotour guides to practice their trades with visitors who come through their Oceanic Society and SEE Turtles expeditions, or sign up for AirBnB Experiences or independently, as a result of reading about their work and the rich, little known regional biodiversity.
WoG believes in order for an improvement in marine conservation to occur, the entire community must be invested in and motivated to participate in its protection.
This is one of the only programs we have ever seen that invests in community in such a holistic and collaborative way and the results show.
”If You See Something, Say Something”
If you spot a whale, contact the team and tell them: 1.) How many whales you see, 2.) how you detected them (blow, splash, body part), 3.) where you saw them (with as much precision as possible), 4.) the date and time when you first spotted them, 5.) which direction they were headed 5.) what they were doing; was it a mother with a calf, a group of whales, any breaching, fin slapping or tail lobbing? Your contribution will help build a map of habitat use and build our understanding about our local whales. (Send text messages between December– April to 755-127-1583 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
Adopt a Local Whale!
Adopt one of the local whales from our region and you will be supporting the project and be kept up to date on the team’s discoveries of that whale’s travel and events. https://www.whalesinmexico.com/get-involved/adopt-a-whale/
Play Marine Biologist for a Week or a Day
This independent project supports its research, educational programs and local marine naturalist trainings in part through ecotourism. If you would like to join the scientists and educators on the water as they listen to, photograph and study whales and dolphins, you may want to sign up for a four-hour excursion with a locally trained guide or sign up for a 7–11 day research expedition and be a part of the research team for a week. Find out more here: http://whalesinmexico.com/expeditions.htm
To find out more about Whales of Guerrero, follow their websites at: https://whalesinmexico.com/
AirBnB: Learn to be a Whale Whisperer Experience: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/504579