Marine Conservation Survey: Cetacean, Pinniped, and Seabird Monitoring

Raven Adventures volunteers conduct plankton surveyRaven Adventures volunteers and leader Colin Garland conduct coastal surveySpy-hopping whaleRaven Adventures volunteers analyze plankton samplesRaven Adventures volunteers pet a gray whale

Want to See More? Visit Our Photo Gallery!


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. Research volunteers 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. Research 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.

2018 Dates:

Session 1: February 11th – 19th

Trip Life:

Upon arrival, research volunteers will receive an introductory multi media presentation about the Marine Monitoring program. This gathering will serve as an orientation to the program highlighting the tasks and activities each interns will be involved in. This meeting will also serve as an open forum for participants 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, volunteers will define each transect set along coastlines as well as open water routes to and from predetermined islands. These transects will serve to indicate which routes to be followed and retraced over a long period of time. A particular route or study site will be chosen 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, research volunteers 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 may be drawn along the shoreline of both the mainland peninsula and select island locations. Locations will be chosen 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. If in mangrove areas, our focus will be on species that use these areas for reproduction and nurseries.

At the end of the season, with the help of GEA staff, a narrative report will be created as well as a catalog of all the data, photos and videos collected. 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 volunteers 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 may also walk select shorelines documenting coastal conditions such as pollution, erosion and overuse issues. Volunteers may also be invited to partake in the recovery of cetacean, marine mammal and bird carcasses that are cleaned, processed and reconstructed for use as educational displays in the local 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.


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 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 or around $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.


The program cost is $950 per person for the 9 day session and is limited to 4 participants .  The cost includes food, base camp lodging/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.

Ready to Apply?

Please visit our application page!