Dear friends and collaborators!!!!
ECOBAC wishes you all many happy festivities throughout December, and a prosperous and happy New Year.
Like every year, ECOBAC are already preparing for the next whale season in which we will continue our work in research, protection and conservation of the majestic humpback whale.
This season we will have the support of the “Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas” (CONANP) (in English the “Mexican National Park Commission”) to continue with the work in our projects of “Red de Asistencia a Ballenas Enmalladas” (RABEBN) (in English “Mexican National Whale Disentanglement Network”) and “Programa de Prevención, Información y Monitoreo de Ballenas Jorobadas en Bahía de Banderas” (in English “Program of Prevention, Information and Monitoring of Humpback Whales of the Bay of Banderas”). In addition to this work in protection and prevention we are also continuing with the campaign “Yo si cuido las ballenas/ I care for the whales”.
The following is a summary of the activities that have been going on in preparation for the upcoming whale season, and of those that will occur during the season.
MEXICAN NATIONAL WHALE DISENTNAGLEMENT NETWORK (RABEN)
During the months of September, October and November three training workshops were held for RABEN team members. The workshops of Oaxaca and the Baja Californian Peninsula were previously mentioned in the October ECOBAC bulletin; therefore in this November addition we will just share with you just the details of the “Workshop of Advanced RABEN Training in the Bay of Banderas”.
During this workshop, advanced training was given to the RABEN groups of Manzanillo, the Bay of Banderas, Guayabitos, San Blas and Mazatlán. The workshop was attended by government staff from institutions such as API, PROFEPA, CONANP, SEMAR, and by Harbor Master personnel, Ecology County Departments, academics and alumni of the Instituto Tecnológico de Bahía de Banderas, Universidad de Colima, as well as whale watch tour operators.
During the training new advanced tools were given to the RABEN teams and new rescue techniques were taught and put into practice on the ocean during training exercises. All of this will allow us to more efficiently assist and safely release whales that may become entangled during the whale season. The workshop was led by David Matilla, an international expert of NOAA and the International Whaling Commission, who has more than 20 years of experience in the field working with entangled whales.
PROGRAM OF PREVENTION, INFORMATION AND MONITORING OF HUMPBACK WHALES IN THE BANDERAS BAY
In the next whale watching season, ECOBAC will once again be present on the ocean as part of their work in the “Program of Prevention, Information and Monitoring of Humpback Whales in the Bay of Banderas”. The principal objective is to promote good practices of navigation and correct whale watching, following the guidelines that are outlined in the NOM – 131 – SEMARNAT – 2010. The main intention is to create awareness, principally in private boat users, that take part in whale watch activities without any type of relevant information and harass the whales.
In addition, this program involves monitoring the behavior of whale watch tour operators around whales, to ensure that they carry out their tour activities correctly. This campaign has now be running for three years and has shown positive results preventing the harassment of whales, vessel crowding and possible whale-vessel collisions.
Crucial support to carry out this campaign is provided by OPEQUIMAR marine center who provide a vessel, and the VIII Naval Zone who provide an official marine officer to accompany ECOBAC onboard. Sometimes vigilance trips are coordinated with PROFEPA Jalisco and/or PROFEPA Nayarit, who always provide willing volunteers to record data, provide information and deliver leaflets.
This year 20 vigilance trips will be made, spread out throughout the whale watching season that will commence on the 8th of December 2014 and finish on the 23rd March 2015.
I CARE FOR THE WHALES OUTREACH CAMPAIGN
We would also like to notify all our readers that for this whale season we will be promoting the campaign “I care about the whales” in the marinas. If people are interested in helping, we are looking for committed volunteers that would like to volunteer for us to help with sharing information in the marinas and promoting the protection of the whales and our beautiful Bay of Banderas. If you have any questions or want to join us, you can contact us directly at the offices of ECOBAC or via Facebook.