A Sad Update to Beached Whale

Puerto Lopez – July 22, 2012

It was Sunday and it had been a very intense week. A colleague of mine, Monica Fabara, called me to tell me about a beached whale. Not a second was wasted, and we left in search of information.

It was about 10:00 in the morning when we found the animal. I was already decomposing, but could still serve as a sample specimen. Wendy is a microbiologist and was grateful to have the opportunity to investigate. We could open and search inside its body cavity, and by doing so, determine the cause of death.

What we found made me very afraid. We found the remainder of nets – but they were not common nets – they were plastic nets, the kind that have been prohibited in Ecuador for a very long time. People of the surrounding area came to help us, and began with knives in hand, to open the whale. We finished at almost three in the afternoon. We had all the bones and furthermore, many samples of meat and fat. We appreciate the help from our friends. Two days later, my muscles still ached – it takes a lot of work to open the whale and retrieve its bones. But we have the samples and figured out how the whale died!

A few days later we chatted with the guides and park rangers, and it was really good to have the photographs of the whale to share with them. This type of fishing is prohibited. Although it was very sad to think about how the whale suffered, at least its death served to create a consciousness with respect to our rules to these beautiful things. 

From Ecuador,


Puerto López,  - July 17, 2012

Sweets, flavors and colors in Puerto López

For many years it has been difficult to buy artisanal goods and crafts in Puerto Lopez.  There has not been a place to acquire them.  Over time, though, with the whales and the tourists, Ecuadorian art and goods have turned to a great alternative.  Now we can find a wide range of colors and shapes. 

Crafts are made from an array of materials – like shells, feathers, etc.  But the most popular are those made from tagua – which is the seed from the ivory-nut palm.  The tagua creates a brown color when burned, and you can use it as a dye to make other colors.  There are even headbands made from the fibers of palm trees.  But the thing I like to buy the most are the sweets! 

There are your typical sweets wrapped in colored paper and made with milk, cinnamon and brown sugar.  There is a liquor that’s made with milk, and another made with currant.  There are artisanal cookies and fruit native to the area.  For example, the tamarind tree, a tree from dry forests. The currant is tart like green lemons and green mangos.  My kids love to eat mango with salt. 

Now, you can find it al in Puerto Lopez, with the whales, many families have found a way of live, reviving their traditional customs and can share with all the tourists these amazing ways to live.  How wonderful that the tourists who come to watch the whales have also brought new opportunities to life here in Puerto Lopez, and that we can enjoy all of these marvelous things. 


Puerto López -  July 16, 2012

Today I met with twenty-eight students from Filomena Chávez School.  After introductions, we focused on the marvelous world of marine mammals.  I gave a PowerPoint presentation, and then six students taught us about the important physical characteristics of humpback whales, using stuffed-animals supplied by Pacific Whale Foundation.

Martin said: “This is the humpback whale, and the caudal fin helps us to identify one individual from another. 

The students, impressed by what they had seen, began to applaud.  Next, the students got excited when we announced “Now we are going to put together the puzzles!”  Excited, they started to shout, “I want one!” and “I want one on turtles!” and “I want one on fish!”.  Therefore, we began to put together the puzzles.  The students were happy when they were the first to win.  And this is how I finished my time next to the little giants.

I am happy to share memorable experiences with the boys and girls of each school, because each time that I share some of what I know, I feel that I am helping to for better people – that in the future they will take care of and protect the environmental riches that we celebrate.