Thanks to our alliance of collaborators in Mexico
Since our SnotBot program began in 2015, the Gulf of California has been our most important study site. We have been there in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and are now back in 2022 after a COVID-19 induced hiatus. Additionally, our Robotics Manager Chris Zadra worked there with a film crew in 2021.
There are several reasons we keep going back.
The first is obvious – there is enormous value in collecting a long-term data set. The more you study a whale population, the more useful that data is in understanding the whales and the various forces and factors which might be influencing them and their population health.
But another reason we keep going back… Is because of our network of partners in the area. This work simply would not be possible without several key partners. Here – we want to publicly say Thank You to these partners.
An ever present in our Gulf of California work has been the local Mexican university we work with, the UABCS, and in particular Dr Jorge Urbán – the head of UABCS’s Marine Mammal Research Program. Indeed, all our work in the area is conducted under Dr. Urbán’s research permit – and so in more ways than one this work would not be possible without their help. Working with Dr. Urbán also ensures that this work has more impact – him and his team know all the conservation issues in the area and know the management authorities better than anyone – they know what research is important, and how the data can be used to help protect the whales.
CONANP and the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto
The waters in which we operate are a designated national park area. Each year, the local park managers and officials from CONANP (the Mexican National Parks management authority) and the Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto allow us to conduct our research. Additionally, over the years they have also sent members of their team with us on our boat to help us collect data. Their hospitality has been key to the success of our local programs. In addition, we share our photographs with them to help support their tourism efforts.
Michael Fishbach and his team at the Great Whale Conservancy have been absolutely crucial partners. Each year we ask more of the GWC. They have helped us with our science and data collection, accommodation, with permitting, filming projects, storage for our equipment, logistical challenges, research vessel rentals…the list goes on. They collect fecal samples for our fecal sample analysis program. This year, they are also helping to collect distribution/abundance data for us.
GWC help us because they have a shared interest in protecting the whales, and because they are good people. And we are hugely grateful for their help. You can find out more about their work on their here or their Instagram here.
Without the help of all these groups, this work would not be possible. Moreover – it wouldn’t be effective. Local knowledge is absolutely integral to the success of a research program. You cannot hope to protect a population of whales if you are not working with local organizations – and we are grateful to work with these fantastic partners.