Monitoring Whales in the Mexican Pacific Ocean
As Sara arrived at Bahia de Banderas, she was convinced that becoming a marine biologist was the career for her. But by being there, she was hoping to grasp a better feeling of what marine biology was and so was indecisive as to what option in the vast field would fulfil her dreams. A few days later a friend of a friend invited her to watch whales. Sara was thrilled as it was not within her means to pay for a tour to watch humpback whales. They encountered sting rays, turtles and dolphins, but after several hours whales were proving too difficult to find. Then, a few hours later, almost disenchanted and about to give up on coming across one, they were informed about a whale nearby. They were approaching quietly when suddenly they heard a strong blow, they saw a broad, rounded head with bump-like knobs and a big torso.
The whale swam frighteningly close to the boat rubbing against its side, raising a white pectoral fin. Sara was taken aback. The whale twisted and rose its immense tail, almost as big as the boat they were in, and then suddenly slammed it back down onto the water's surface. Sara felt a rush of excitement mixed with sudden and profound curiosity. It was there and then that Sara realised what she wanted to do as a marine biologist, to study these dazzling and enormous, but at the same time gentle animals.
There are times in life when decision making processes are relatively straightforward after following a few steps,however on other occasions they take a long time and demand a lot from us. And then there are those rare occasions when we seem to be making no progress at coming to a sound decision when all of a sudden, there is a completely and unexpected breakthrough but so strong that we are unequivocally sure that that’s the way forward.
Certainly no promises can be made as to such a breakthrough simply by embarking on a project like this. But by experiencing these gentle giants as a volunteer with the team in Nayarit, Mexico, you will definitely have one of your best lifetime experiences, knowing that your efforts are helping these amazing animals. And who knows, it may steer you towards a new path in your life's journey.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG´s) 2030 Agenda
|Whales' Surveillance (WS) ONLY: +19 yrs old
Online Community Manager COMBINED with WS: +21 yrs old
Whales' Surveillance (WS): 4 weeks
Online Community Manager COMBINED with WS: 20 weeks
|From 59 USD/DAY
** REGISTRATION FEE TO SECURE YOUR PLACE: 75USD WHEN SENDING APPPLICATION + 224USD WHEN ACCEPTED
|Studio Apartment w/bills included
Working in an important breeding and transit area for the Humpack Whales in the Mexican Pacific Ocean, this program carries out research, conservation, and environmental education activities for marine mammals as well as other species that inhabit the marine and coastal ecosystems of the area. Aware of an important component to their work as the local volunteering is, the program is eager to have international volunteers interested in helping with activities aimed at fulfilling their goals.
- Learn about whales’ abundance and distribution throughout the NGO’s operation area
- Whales’ observation and characterization to identify behavioural changes due to vessels activities in the area
- Learn about tourist experiences hiring whales’ observation tours: expectations vs actual experiences
- Identify whale’ navigation routes and feeding sites arriving every winter season at the Pacific Ocean area where the NGO operates
- Provide environmental education and share project results to local and non-local public to raise awareness regarding the need of marine life conservation (and more specifically cetaceans)
The program provides you with TWO volunteering OPTIONS, one that lets you experience the amazing opportunity of being part of the team doing whale SURVEILLANCE and a second one that will additionally provide you with time to put your experience and creativity to work to create content material for social media as well as helping with online community managing activities.
Requirements for Whales’ Surveillance ONLY
- No previous experience nor specific education required
- Interested in marine life and marine ecosystems protection
- Organization and verbal communication skills
- Able to follow instructions and keen to be part of a team
- A ‘can do it’ attitude and initiative
- Willingness and desire to help and learn from others
Additional Requirements for Online Community Manager and Content Creation
- Education OR experience in Digital Marketing or related areas is desirable
- Social and written communication skills
- Register data in logbooks during whales and cetaceans monitoring tours as well as observations from fixed points in land
- Take part in tourist whales watching tours and carry out surveys among tourists
- Transfer data from logbooks and surveys to Excel databases and report on results as necessary
- Support environmental education activities among tourists and the public in general
- Create information summary reports that can be used to promote environmental awareness on social media
- Develop new proposals for outreach material on social media
- Prepare labels with relevant information for photos taken during whale monitoring tours
One of the key issues we had in mind as this project was being developed was to help you be as prepared as possible to enjoy and fulfil your expectations for joining a program in Mexico. For that reason, there is an orientation course comprising of three distinct aspects prior to your arrival. Dates and time will be agreed upon the HUV team and the volunteer in advance.
The aspects to cover include:
- Mexico and its culture
- Volunteering in Mexico and learning about your chosen destination
- Follow up throughout your chosen project
Arrival and Onsite Orientation
Arrival/Departure airport: Local airport
Volunteers will be welcomed upon arrival at the local airport by a caring staff member of the organization hosting you. Arrange for a flight that arrives no later than midday. You will be given the option to either have light lunch or drive you to the project site and into your accommodation before enjoying a meal. The staff member will be happy to help you with any information needed on the community or any advice needed on your arrival.
Orientation will take place on Monday morning after you have a light breakfast.
Accommodation and meals
Volunteers will be placed at a studio flat in the city. Rooms are for single occupancy. Accommodation is basic, but they have all standard amenities for a comfortable stay.
The project includes half board and all is self-service. Supplies for breakfast, light supper and snacks are provided on a weekly basis. You will also be given information for "comida corrida" restaurants (reasonably priced set menu). You may also be invited to partake with the team one or twice as Mexican people have a high appreciation of mealtimes and it is a special time to relax and socialize, thus be ready to enjoy the experience.
- Whales’ SURVEILLANCE ONLY: December through April
- COMBINED with online community manager activities: December through September
- Whales’ SURVEILLANCE ONLY: dates can be chosen from a minimum of 4 weeks up to 20 weeks.
- COMBINED with online Community Manager activities: a minimum commitment of 20 weeks is needed
Arrivals are expected on a SUNDAY, and you can choose the minimum stay and subject to availability (and visa conditions) you can extend your stay through arrangements with the local team.
** if the fees for the time (e.g. Combined experience) you are interested in volunteering for the project of your choice is not listed, please send us an enquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Volunteers will spend a good deal of time either collecting data at whale observation sessions from fixed points on land or at monitoring sea trips. Data collected then needs to be processed. There will be other days when volunteers will experience whale watching tours offered by local tourist companies to also record important data and to help raise environmental awareness. Schedules for the above-described activities are highly variable, therefore volunteers need to be equally flexible and excited about a very dynamic working agenda.
The typical day below shows a day when volunteers stay at their place to process collected data or prepare material as part of their community manager’s responsibility:
Self- prepared breakfast
You will carry out activities directly related to whales/cetacean observations: processing data, keeping databases up to date, filing electronic photos, etc. If you have also applied as an online community manager a more detailed schedule will be discussed with the team to organize your workload and time.
Activities related to community manager’s responsibilities may include one or more of the following: creating posts for ongoing campaigns, creating summary reports for new campaigns, preparing new social media proposals.
Lunch at designated place
You will continue with the activities you’ve scheduled and agreed upon for the day with the team.
Your activities for the day are finalised and you are free to enjoy any leisure activity you may choose.
Registration Fee to secure your place
- 75 USD when sending application
- 224 USD when accepted
Included in the cost
- Project Placement
- Onsite follow up & support
- Orientation: cultural, at placement and safety related
- Airport pick up on arrival
- Accommodation as described (see details)
- Meals as described
Additional to consider
- Round International Flight
- Domestic flights if required/chosen
- Visa if required
- Local transport (if needed)
- Return airport transfer
- Personal items
- Mobile expenses
- Additional meal and snacks
- Any other cost no listed above (“included in the cost”)
2. Fill out application and pay 75USD initial registration fee
3. Review of application for suitability and project pre-placement
4. If application is approved, pay final registration payment (224 USD) and upload requested documents
5. Review of documents for final project placement
6. Pay program fees
7. Final project placement will be issued