Friday, December 1, 2023

New whale watching zone declared in Oaxaca

The federal Secretariat of the Environment (Semarnat) has created a new whale watching zone off the coast of Oaxaca.

The 280-square-kilometer area stretches between the municipalities of Santa María Colotepec and San Pedro Mixtepec, just off the shores of Puerto Escondido.

“[We are] very excited,” said Gonzalo Ramírez Patiño, president of the local whale watching cooperative Rosa de los Vientos (Compass Rose), who worked with the University of the Sea (UMAR) to attain the observation zone designation.

“It’s a dream for all of us. I believe it’s a benefit for Puerto Escondido. We know that this will bring about a boom. With good publicity, it will bring lots of tourism,” he said.

The Oaxaca coast is a transit zone for many different whale species as they travel to and from their habitat in the Gulf of California and seas further south.

“The whales begin to arrive in December and they return to their feeding grounds, in the north of the country, in February, March, and by April there aren’t any whales,” said Francisco Villegas Zurita, a researcher at UMAR. “So the data tells us that the best months to see whales in the zone near Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and San Agustinillo are January and February.”

The creation of the zone includes a series of regulations for enjoying this spectacle of nature, among them the prohibition of boats to get within 60 meters of the whales. Tourism boat captains will also be required to take training to learn to observe them.

“The whales have done their part by migrating. It falls on us to have certification, and we will soon have it. I believe that the tourists that come for this will look for certified individuals, people with the knowledge and experience we’ve acquired through our research,” said Villegas.

Puerto Escondido is the second observation zone to be designated in Oaxaca. The first was created off the coast of Mazunte in 2015.

Source: Ciudadanía Express (sp)

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