XIV Whale Watching Festival in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador "Read entire blog"

The whale festival started on June 22 2012 and was held in Puerto Lopez (considered "Humpback Whale Sanctuary"). It was attended by thousands of people, more than other years. The whale festival has been one of the most inspiring initiatives that a community has made to pay tribute to the whales. Naturalist guides presented the tourism products of Machalilla National Park, such as whale watching, bird watching, kayaking and even watching the sea coast with paragliding.

Johnson Morante, one of the oldest guides of Machalilla Park, shared with all the history of the Festival of Whales, written by Jorge Salazar (one of the pioneers in this event). It was very emotional for me to remember everything that happened to reach this day; all the programs and people who participated in this event. The most important thing is that the whales arouse passion in my life; this passion is shared by many people in Puerto Lopez and they feel that they are not alone.
Johnson reminded us that every June 22, Ecuador held the Day of the Whale. In 2008, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism decided to appoint a day to celebrate and welcome the humpback whales and so we had a double celebration: a festival and Whale Day.
At night, I had the opportunity to share our whale research with thousands of people. I shared the results I had presented at the International Whaling Commission and also provided the birth certificates of some whales. It was exciting that people can meet Brisa whale,  Aerogal whale, Keiko and another new whale baptized this year.  I showed their pictures, the color of their tails and link between responsible tourism and scientific research.
The municipality of Puerto Lopez and tourism department launched the "Name the Whale" and we have new sponsors continue to support this challenge ... John Gonzáles and Angel had the idea for  this initiative.
To end the evening was a presentation by Portoviejo Philharmonic, across from the sea. The waves were magical. I'm so glad the people who were organizing the show shared the depths of their soul, their feelings and living the whales.
Although we had very little sleep, we woke up early to go whale watching. The trip was packed with local media.Journalists brought their whole families, children, wives and even mothers in some cases. We found humpback whales just minutes from Puerto Lopez near the Salango Island. Some of them forgot to record the whales they admired.  It was wonderful show.
In return, the concert started at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. All were ready for the big concert for the whales. There were over 20 bands, local, national and international. They sang loudly from our known corridors to chamber music, dances typical of all sites of Ecuador. Some looked always to the sea, hoping that some of the whales appeared.
Municipalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon had dances of indigenous Shuar ( ancient cultures) . Universities presented their dance groups, theater, artistic presentations, and of course as expected the Karla Kanora artistic concert.
When it was the 8:00 p.m. the dance and rumba began with Orchesta El Combo Darwin (tropical music). I  was excited when naming the whales and people were screaming, I almost was crying to see so many people. I could feel the party in  my heart and especially they're saying  "WELCOME"
The dancing and the party was in all Puerto Lopez; every corner was crowded until Sunday, where we again went out to see whales. Artisans displayed their new figures of whales, the designers were trying to sell their models with dolphins and I needed to sleep a little.
The festival ended this month with fireworks reminding us about Puerto Lopez as the start of our season -- and how we had changed the harpoons to cameras and pirate whalers to happy tourists.
For those who believe that whales are worth more dead than alive ... thousands of Ecuadorians can say that we need them alive and not on the menu of the day. 
From Ecuador, still awake and not having slept much ...
¡Qué viva las ballenas!


anne says:

I recently read The State of Whalewatching in Latin America, a 2008 publication written by Eric Hoyt and Miguel Iniguez and published by WDCS, IFAW and Global Ocean. They noted the importance and value of the Puerto Lopez Humpback Whale Festival. This event started in 1999. In 2008, it attracted 10,000 attendees who spent approximately $1,000,000 in this quiet fishing village. The festival has highlighted the presence of the whales and the whalewatching that's available in Ecuador, and helped to attract more whalewatchers to the region. The festival has been growing ever since, thanks to the work of the community and Dr. Cristina Castro. Great job on this year's event!