Newsletter October 2014
Dear friends and collaborators of ECOBAC
Greetings once again, on this occasion we would like to share with you the conservation activities we have been working on lately, in preparation for the next whale season.
The months of September, October and November are our training and workshop months!
Banderas Bay Humpback Whale Photo – identification Catalog available on line!
We are very happy to finally, and after much hard work, be able to share with you the news that we have successfully uploaded the Banderas Bay Humpback Whale Photo–identification Catalog (FIBB Catalog) to the Internet. The online catalog includes more than 1,700 whales, which were individually identified between the years of 1996 and 2012.
Currently, we are working with images and data collected from the whale seasons of 2013 and 2014; we are now joining forces and sharing the catalog with the Universidad Autónoma de Colima, the Universidad del Mar Campus Puerto Ángel, Oaxaca and the “Whales of Guerrero Research Project” with the aim to better understand the population of humpback whales that visit our coastal areas.
The catalog is now available online, and if you would like to access it right now you can. You simply have to enter the following link https://www.ecobac.org/investigacion/catalogo/catalogo.html and then provide some basic personal details to become a registered user. This will allow you access to all categories and images of the catalog.
For better organization, at the begining of the catalog you will see that it has been divided into 5 categories. Every category is a different coloration type of humpback whales’ tails; the first category includes those tails that are almost completely white, and the fitfh category those tails that are almost completely black.
We hope that this online catalog will be very useful, and that you will all be very happy like ourselves that the catalog is now available as a valuable and helpful tool for everyone.
Mexican Big Whales Disentanglement Network
RABEN is a inter-institutional network of teams of trained personnel that carry out the rescue of whales that are entangled in fishing gear; it was created due to the need to address the negative impacts that fishing activities had been causing to whales in past years, an issue that today has escalated to become a constant threat and danger to their survival. The protocol used by RABEN has been tried and tested with great success worldwide for more than 20 years, ensuring the maximum possible safety of the team members, and minimum impact to the whales. In the Banderas Bay RABEN has now been operating for 10 years!.
New RABEN teams in Oaxaca
Until last year, RABEN was made up of 12 teams that were spread along the Pacific Coast. In September of this year, with the help of the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) and the co-ordination of Ecología Conservación de Ballenas (ECOBAC), three more teams were formed and trained in the state of Oaxaca (Puerto Ángel and Puerto Escondido; Mazunte and San Agustinillo and; Huatulco).
he instructor in charge of the training was Scott Landry, an expert in disentanglement of large whales who is certified by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and has attended more than 150 reported cases of whale entanglements. He is currently employed at the Centre for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, MA.
The title of the workshop was “Atención a Eventos de Enmallamientos de Grandes Ballenas”, which translates to “Response to Entanglement Events of Great Whales” in English. It was held in the municipality of Huatulco, Oaxaca; each RABEN team was issued with three complete sets of specialized tools and personal protection gear to be ready to respond to any entanglement event that may present itself.
Advanced Training in La Paz, BCS
Further up the coast, the next training was conducted on the 9th and 10th of October in La Paz, Baja California Sur. On this occasion an advanced training workshop was held, which introduced new topics and updates; the participants were personnel who were part of the RABEN teams of Baja California and Baja California Sur, the same personnel who has attended training workshops in previous years.
The instructor in charge of the training was Ed Lyman, an expert in disentanglement of whales who has helped release 50 to 60 whales from fishing gear. He is currently employed by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and is certified by the IWC.
Amongst the participants were representatives from a wide diversity of institutions, including PROFEPA, CONANP, UABCS, 2ª. Zona Naval, AICMMARH A.C. Once again specialized equipment was issued to the RABEN teams, including those from La Paz, Los Cabos, Bahía de Los Ángeles, Loreto and Vizcaíno.
Training in Banderas Bay!
The training continues. Currently we are preparing for the next workshop that will be held in the Banderas Bay in November, an advanced training workshop led by the instructor David Matilla; participants will be attending from Manzanillo, San Blas, Guayabitos, Mazatlán and Banderas Bay. We hope that like the other workshops and training, it will be a great success.
The whale season is drawing near (it will officially start on the 8th of December), and that is why we strive to continuosly train our network of teams.