25 Aug 2020
Conservation of Southern Right Whales, Eubalaena australis, Through the Development of Responsible Whale Watching in Miramar, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina I
The general aim of this project is to get better protection for southern right whales (SRW) in general, and in Miramar and surrounding areas in particular, contributing to the recovery of this species. This project will:
• Provide local authorities with scientific information needed to draw up proper whale watching regulations and plan conservation strategies for the species in the area.
• Contribute to the protection of the species along all of its range by increasing knowledge about SRW migration routes.
• Change people’s attitude towards the whales and instill a desire to protect SRW. Develop knowledge in the local community about the value of natural resources, with emphasis on SRW and the conservation of marine environments.
• Update the SRW photo-identification catalogue for the area. This will continue being cross referenced with others existing catalogues in South America in order to understand migration patterns and to establish conservation criteria.
Southern right whales’ populations are showing slow signs of recovery and they are thought to be regaining former migration routes. They are increasingly being seen close to Miramar, mostly during the austral winter. This has generated a growing interest within Miramar’s tourist authority in developing whale watching (WW) activities to attract tourists.
Carry out a scientific research prior to develop any WW activity is very unusual and it is valuable opportunity to create a precedent on which to base future responsible WW projects. To develop responsible WW here, baseline knowledge, such as migration times, whales’ habitat uses and relative abundance in the area, needs to be provided. This will help to devise proper regulations to develop the WW activity and protect the species, too.
Besides this, since 2012 Southwest Atlantic population has been the focus of an International Whaling Commission Conservation Management Plan. This Plan stresses the importance of studying and protecting the whales’ migration routes.
It is important highline that this project develops the first southern right whale photo identification catalogue for the Buenos Aires area, it will help to understand migration patterns and to establish conservation criteria, by comparing with other catalogues in the region.
For conservation, not only is important to study the SRW, but also involve the community about how to conserve; activities like talks in schools stimulate children’s interest in cetacean’s conservation and southern right whales’ conservation, in particular. This will be the trigger to educate grown people. Fundación Cethus also gave talks and workshop to the people involve in tourism, in order to advice in develop the responsible ww and also some activities to the general public.
This project starts in 2013 carrying out the first aerial survey, then land-based observations, and the educational program begun. In the last two years, this was possible by Rufford Small Grant support. In this way, the foundations were laid for a work that has grown year by year, learning more about whales and joining the community for conservation.