la paz

baja california


May 2022 marked the first time since the world temporarily shut down that we were able to head out once again into the field in support of conservation focused research.

This time we were once again in Mexico in the Sea of Cortez and based out of La Paz. Working again with our long time collaborators Pelagios Kakunja, Dr. James Ketchum, Dr. Mauricio Hoyos and meeting for the first time Dr. Darren Whitehead.

Focus was two fold – try and find the scalloped hammerhead sharks at the deep off shore pinnacle and place satellite tags on them and place satellite tags on the large 10-12m whale sharks in the bay of La Paz as well as taking blood samples, and tissue samples of the whale sharks.

We were on site for 4 weeks and during that time did not see a single scalloped hammerhead shark and not for lack of trying. We spent hours and hours diving the pinnacles off shore, diving near shore along the different small islands, laying on the bottom at 30 – 45m waiting silently in hopes a few would swim by but without some luck we came up empty handed.

We did however, have some great luck with the large whale sharks, finding with the help of a spotter plane many large females and placing several satellite tags along with taking some blood and tissue samples.

our team was dwarfed by the size of these huge fish… the smallest we encountered was 11m, cruising along the surface and patiently allowing us to jump in the water, swimming as fast as we could vs the whale sharks cruising speed, while we placed the tags, hung on and tried to get some blood samples and then swim up for a quick breath of air before heading back down to try again. Exhausting but rewarding work and hopefully the satellite tags are going to give researchers a lot more information about where these animals head off to once they leave the bay and thus, help to improve and enforce their protections.

The Watermen Project thanks all those participants that came out in support of this research and we look forward to hosting avid eco supporters again in 2024.

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