Our research in Ecuador is based out of Machalilla National Park and focuses primarily on the growth of ecotourism in the area and its potential impact on the region’s humpback whales. Led by Dr. Cristina Paola Castro, the program also seeks to improve economic growth and development of local communities in Ecuador by promoting conservation and education.
Watch the Video “Migration towards Prosperity” was been presented to the 65th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission and received an enthusiastic response. This documentary sends a strong message from Ecuador and the Buenos Aires Group that whales are a more beneficial as a living resource rather than being hunted. This video reinforced the IWC’s 5 year strategic whalewatching plan in favor of protecting whales and the ocean environment.
We aim to establish a comprehensive photo-identification catalog for humpback whales located in or near Machalilla National Park. This catalog can then be compared with other local catalogs throughout the West Latin America region as well as to the Antarctic catalog. These research efforts will promote adoption of conservation-minded attitudes as the people of the Machalilla National Park area continue to develop an ecotourism-centered economy.
Little is known about the migratory movements of the West Latin America population of humpback whales. Standardized research protocols across regions will help researchers work together to establish a comprehensive photo-identification catalog and determine how humpback whales are using these areas. Specifically, we are interested in the interchange of animals between habitats in Ecuador and Peru, since there is recent evidence to suggest that waters off the coast of Peru may be a site of breeding activity for these whales, rather than solely a migration corridor as previously thought.