Monitoring Whales & Dolphins in the Eastern Tropical Pacific

The goal of this study is to maintain long-term continuous monitoring of humpback whales that  use Ecuador as their breeding ground, while also documenting the presence and use of this  area by other cetaceans. From these data we provide science-based recommendations to  contribute to humpback whale recovery and cetacean management strategies.

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Ecuador belong to breeding stock G. Each year  they migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to the breeding grounds along the coasts of Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru. This population, like many others, was subject to heavy  pressure from the whaling era and has recently shown positive signs of recovery.

Despite being removed from the endangered species list in 2016, there is very little information  known about the life history, behavior, and migration patterns of humpback whales in this part  of the world. In addition, our knowledge is extremely limited on the other whales and dolphins that use this area, and most populations are considered “data deficient”. Through population  monitoring, we aim to advance our understanding of species richness and population status  and facilitate long-term continuous monitoring of humpback whales and other cetaceans to  assess trends over time.

  • Project Partners

    Ted Cheeseman, Southern Cross University and

    Fernando Felix, Museo de Ballenas

    Koen van Waerebeek, Centro Peruano de Investigación de Cetáceos

    Ana Segarra, CIFAMAC Peninsula de Mejillones, Chile

    Divna Djokic, GMIT Galvao Mayo Institute, Dublin

    Renata Sousa Lima, Universidad Federal de Río Grande del Norte, Brazil

  • Recent Publications

    2020: Remili, A., Gallego, P., Pinzone, M., Castro, C., Jauniaux, T., Garigliany, M.M.,  Malarvannan, G., Covaci, A. and Das, K. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) breeding  off Mozambique and Ecuador show geographic variation of persistent organic pollutants and  isotopic niches. Environmental Pollution 267: 115575.

    2018: Félix, F., Van Waerebeek, K., Sanino, G. P., Castro, C., Van Bressem, M. F., & Santillán, L.  Variation in Dorsal Fin Morphology in Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus (Cetacea:  Delphinidae) Populations from the Southeast Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 72(3), 307-320.

    2011: Félix, F., Castro, C., Laake, J.L., Haase, B. and Scheidat, M. Abundance and survival  estimates of the southeastern Pacific humpback whale stock from 1991–2006 photo identification surveys in Ecuador. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management (Special Issue  3): 301-307.

    *For a full list of our research publications, click here:


Hawaii Visitor Update

Aloha, We Are Open!  Our PacWhale Eco-Adventures are open for booking as we welcome visitors back to Maui.  Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Oct. 15th for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.