Collaborating with local communities to promote marine conservation in Mexico

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The Whales of Guerrero Research Project is a successful and replicable project that collaborates with local communities to promote marine conservation through research, educational outreach and capacity-building activities.

Climate Action , Life below Water , Sustainably manage, protect, restore marine, coastal ecosystems

Climate Change may be one of the biggest threats facing whales and dolphins today. The impacts of climate change include changes in distribution, timing and range of whale migration, prey abundance, and reproductive success and ultimately survival.

The whales and other marine wildlife of Southwest Pacific Mexico have never been monitored or studied before. The Whales of Guerrero Research Project’s baseline data on marine mammal population sizes and habitat use patterns that enable detection of unexpected change over time, raise awareness among citizens and policy makers, and allow management interventions to be developed and evaluated.

The Whales of Guerrero Research Project (WGRP) was launched in 2013 to study the marine ecology of Southwest Pacific Mexico - in particular its poorly known humpback whale populations - and to use this charismatic flagship species to engage and empower local communities in the state of Guerrero through training, ecotourism development, education and outreach activities.

WGRP is working on a first ever five-year field study of humpback whales and dolphins in the region. This research, conducted in collaboration with numerous international scientific partners, serves as the backbone of local education and capacity building work.

WGRP collects data in partnership with the local community, using only local staff and resources. The project focuses on training tour guides and fishermen, conducting community outreach, collaborating with community leaders, providing after-school workshops and US-Mexico cultural exchange programs.
WGRP’s provides the opportunity to local children to learn about marine wildlife through in-school science programs and also provide hands-on opportunities for children and adults alike to study nature with the WGRP team. In addition, it provides a safe whale and dolphin watch training program at an affordable rate ($10/USD for a 2-day intensive program) and offered for free to those who cannot afford to pay.

In four years, WGRP has trained 50 local fishermen to be safe whale watch guides, grown responsible ecotourism by 75%, helped women's art coops to become successful by creating markets and helping them to strengthen their craft. In addition, WGRP has trained 6 local community members to be citizen science biologists capable of collecting accurate, rigorous field data. Also, 2,500+ children in 20 schools have benefited from educational programs and 50 children in the area have received in-depth exposure to fieldwork. The beaches and town are cleaner than they have been in the 19 years the organization has been present in the region and tourism has surpassed fishing, a welcome stopgap measure for a depleted fishery.

Lastly, WGRP intends to expand the program into surrounding areas and to exchange program ideologies with partners in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.

Mexico

Oceanic Society

Whales of Guerrero Research Project

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