Marine Conservation Survey: Cetacean, Pinniped, and Seabird Monitoring


Overview:

Raven Adventures Marine Conservation Survey is an international effort to gather much needed scientific data regarding present environmental / biological conditions found in the Loreto area of the Sea of Cortez. Participants will assist our Mexican conservation partner GEA (Grupos Ecologistas Antares) with multiple marine transects (above and below the surface) as well as other biological investigations in an effort to better understand the fragile ecosytem of the Sea of Cortez. Volunteers may be exposed to an abundant number of marine life including whale species such as the blue, sperm, brydes, humpback, finback, orca and pilot whale. Dolphins and sea lions can also be found in high numbers throughout the study site. All data collected will be available to the local Marine Park of Loreto as well as various nature conservation programs operating in the area.

 

Dates:

January 24 – February 1, 2015
February 4 – February 13, 2015

Volunteers wishing to combine the Mangrove Monitoring Project from January 14 – 22nd with the first session of the Marine Conservation Survey can contact us for more details.

 

Photos:

To view photos from our Baja Marine Conservation Survey, please visit our photo gallery!

 

Trip Life:

Upon arrival, volunteers will receive an introductory multi media presentation about the program. This gathering will serve as an orientation to the program highlighting the tasks and activities each volunteer will be involved in. This meeting will also serve as an open forum for volunteers to share their specific interests, highlight their strengths and expertise, and ask questions. The meeting will culminate with an introduction to the particular tools you are going to use and how to properly use and care for them.

Using charts, maps, GPS and satellite imagery, participants will define each transect set along coastlines as well as open water routes to and from predetermined islands. These transects will serve to indicate without errors which routes to be followed and retraced over a long period of time. A particular route or study site will be chosen daily based on the meteorological conditions present at that time, as well as the known or suspected presence of particular marine species according to the season of the year.

For each transect, participants will utilize field logs, collecting the following data:
The date, time of departure, meteorological conditions at time of departure; (air and water temperature, wind, cloud cover, waves, visibility etc). Each vessel will have up to 6 participants, working in teams of two, with one team on the starboard side and a second team on the port side of the vessel. Port and starboard teams will act as observers, with one of the observers also taking on the role of recorder, entering data into the daily logbook as needed. As species are observed and identified, the recorder will list time of day, GPS coordinates, the name of the species, weather conditions, water temperature, the approximate number of individuals, and the behavior of identified species etc.

Data will be collected on species observed and identified up to a distance of 100 meters from your location. A third team, with the use of photographic and video equipment, will document daily activities and assist in the creation of an image catalog of each species present. Photos and videos will also be used to document environmental conditions, other boats vessels present and number of passengers, details of the coast, the islands, and any other events or situations that would be considered important.

Underwater transects will be drawn along the shoreline of both the mainland peninsula and select island locations. Locations will be chosen daily depending on the meteorological conditions, tides, and the time of year. With the use of fins and snorkels, participants will search for snails, clams, crabs, lobsters etc. In mangrove areas, our focus will be on species that use these areas for reproduction and nurseries.
At the end of the trip, with the help of GEA staff, participants will create a narrative report as well as prepare and catalog all the data, photos and videos collected during that session. Once finalized, a copy of this report will be given to the Marine Park of Loreto. At the end of the research season, GEA and other participants in the study will meet with the Marine Park and other entities to discuss the findings and to make recommendations.

 

Additional Activities

Other activities may include monitoring the shorelines and open sea searching for injured animals that could be rescued, or rehabilitated and released. In addition, groups will also walk select shorelines documenting coastal conditions such as pollution, erosion and overuse issues. Volunteers may also wish to partake in include the recovery of cetacean, marine mammal and bird carcasses that will be cleaned, processed and reconstructed for use as educational displays in the GEA museum. Other tasks at the museum include creating or improving dioramas, producing educational literature, labeling artifacts and making new displays.

 

Project Goals:

There is a serious lack of concrete information regarding certain marine species populations such as cetaceans, sharks, birds, mammals, mollusks, turtles, and several fish of commercial interest. With a global trend of rapid decline affecting many of these species, the lack of information is pushing us to a position of ignorance that has, and will continue to be a serious threat to the survival of these species and their habitats.
The main objective of this long term program is to methodically gather credible data about the populations of certain species of marine fauna, their dynamics, changes, and the problems facing them, and to present useful plans of action to the appropriate authorities in decision making processes or future conservation policies.

 

FAQ:

Do I need any shots?
No shots are needed for any of the Baja programs we offer. Baja is a great place to travel and unlike mainland Mexico, all the drinking water is safe to drink and the food is excellent.

What do I need to bring?
Click here for a generic equipment list we have used for years with both our student and adult programs. Though this may not include everything you may want to bring, it is a good example of what you should expect to bring on your trip. Feel free to contact us if you have more questions.

What if there is a medical emergency? Raven Adventures guides are trained and certified in advanced wilderness medicine and rescue. In addition, public and private clinics and hospitals are located through out the country. It’s always advised when traveling internationally to purchase trip cancellation and emergency medical and evacuation insurance. We can assist you with this if you like. Most policies can be purchased for under $100 USD.

Will I be able to contact family and friends at home while I am traveling?
During the program you will be in an area with internet cafes and long distance phone possibilities.

What if I’m a vegetarian?
All Raven Adventures programs offer vegetarian and vegan meal options. Please contact us if you have any special dietary needs and we will be happy to work with you.

 

Cost:

The program cost is $950 per person for the 10 day session and is limited to 4 participants .  The cost includes food, camping accommodations, camping gear, and safety equipment such as PFDs.  Volunteers will be responsible for their flight/bus to/from Loreto, Mexico. We have years of experience traveling to Baja and may be able to give you some pointers on how to save some money with plane or bus tickets.

Volunteers wishing to combine the Mangrove Monitoring Project from January 14 – 22nd with the first session of the Marine Conservation Survey can contact us for more details.

 

How to Apply

To join us please complete all of the following application steps to fully enroll yourself. Enrollments are on a first come first serve basis.

1) Please contact Colin Garland at colin@ravenadventures.com to ensure there is still space on the session of your choice and to answer any questions you have.

2) After you have confirmed the session dates you wish to join us on, we must receive the following forms fully completed and signed. Please scan and send to colin@ravenadventures.com
Trip Registration & Waiver Form
Health Form
– A photocopy of your passport

3) Please submit your $200 non-refundable deposit online by credit card through PayPal or by check.  Full payment details can be found on our Payment Page.

4) This trip fills quickly.  Upon receipt of all the above items, a space will be held for you on the trip of your choice. Your space will be fully secured upon receipt of your final payment. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you soon!