Shark Research In Mexico
Itinerary (may be subject to change - what follows is a rough guideline.)
You will be welcomed at the project site by the expedition leaders (the project site you will be staying at will be confirmed no later than 2 weeks before your arrival.) After a brief introduction, settle into your room before meeting with the team for lunch. Later, volunteers and staff can get to know each other during a meeting, outlining an introduction to the project, exposition of the two-week schedule, a briefing on health and safety, and a round of questions. If the number of volunteers exceeds 8, they will be split into GROUP A and GROUP B (please assume that, if the number of volunteers is 8 or lower, you will follow GROUP A’s schedule as detailed below.) Dinner will be served before the night’s end.
GROUP A – WHALE SHARK SEMINAR:
Breakfast is served from 8am-9am. The first lecture is an introduction to the Sea of Cortez, with a second lecture on whale shark biology. Lunch is served around 12:30-13:30, after which the seminar will resume. Volunteers learn about whale shark conservation issues, IUCN status, and protection measures. Later, expedition leaders explain the research conducted by the project, and the role of the volunteers. Volunteers are then briefed on the fieldwork techniques necessary for the next day, safety measures, and code of conduct for interactions with the whale sharks. Dinner is served from 19:00; the rest of the evening is at leisure.
GROUP B – CHECK OUT DIVE AT LOS ISLOTES:
Breakfast is served from 7am-8am. Volunteers collect their SCUBA gear, making their way to Espiritu Santo National Park by 9am. Here, you are able to dive with the Sea Lion colony at Los Islotes! The first dive is a ‘check out’, designed to assess the volunteers’ skills, fit of equipment etc. Packed lunches are provided around 12pm, with the second dive commencing at 13:30. The nature of this dive is simply good fun, with no scientific data collected – so enjoy! Dinner is served from 19:00; the rest of the evening is at leisure.
GROUP A – WHALE SHARK FIELD WORK 1:
Breakfast is served to both groups. Volunteers and staff collect their snorkelling gear and head to the boat; here, volunteers are briefed on safety guidelines and code of conduct during whale shark interactions, as well as the necessary fieldwork techniques. In-water research with whalesharks is conducted, with a break midway for packed lunch. Dinner is served from 7pm-8pm, after which staff and volunteers do a data entry.
GROUP B – BULL SHARKS IN CABO PULMO SEMINAR:
Breakfast is served to both groups. The first lecture of the day is an introduction to the Sea of Cortez and Cabo Pulmo National Park; the second, on general shark biology and bull shark ID. Lunch is served at 12:30, with the seminar resuming at 14:00. A lecturer from NGO Pelagios-Kakunja conducts a masterclass explaining the research studies being done on bull shark populations in the area. Afterwards, volunteers are briefed on fieldwork techniques necessary for the next day as well as safety guidelines to follow when diving at CPNP. Dinner is served from 19:00; the rest of the evening is at leisure.
Whale Shark Field Work 2 (GROUP A):
Schedule repeat of previous day.
Bull Sharks in Cabo Pulmo Field Work (GROUP B)
Today is an early one, with breakfast served at 6am. At 7am, volunteers are transferred to Cabo Pulmo National Park (CPNP); this takes approximately 2 hours. Collect SCUBA gear upon arrival, before heading to the first dive site at 9:30. Monitor bull sharks in your first dive, before breaking for packed lunch at 12pm. Monitor bull shark populations in your second dive, before departing CBNP around 4pm and returning to base camp. Dinner is served at 7pm; the rest of the evening is at leisure.
Data Entry and Museum Visit:
Both groups join forces today, enjoying breakfast at 8am. Afterwards, volunteers and staff enter data collected on the previous day. Lunch is served from 12:30 til 13:30; afterwards, take a guided tour to the Museo de la Ballena (Whale Museum.) Dinner is served at 7pm with the rest of the evening at leisure.
Today, the groups will follow the activities of Day Two; however, they will switch roles. Group A will enjoy diving alongside the Sea Lion colony at Los Islotes as part of their 'check out dive'; this fun activity is designed to check diver's fitness, skills and fit of equipment. Group B will take part in the Whale Shark seminar, following the same schedule as shown in 'Day Two - GROUP A' previously.
Another day for role reversal here, as Group A follow 'Day Three - Bull Sharks In Cabo Pulmo Seminar'; and Group B follow 'Day Three - Whale Shark Field Work 1.'
Once again the volunteers will switch roles, with Group A carrying out Day Four's schedule of bull shark field work, and Group B enjoying their second day of whale shark field work.
Volunteers have the entire day off. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served at the usual times but volunteers are free to do whatever they want and explore the many amenities La Paz and its surroundings have to offer: hiking in the desert, exploring beaches, shopping at the Malecon, beach volleyball, etc.
Day 10 - GROUP A: Both groups are served breakfast from 8am-9am. After this, Group A are lectured on the shark ecotourism industry, with a seminar of pelagic shark populations ID. Lunch is served from 12:30; after which, a lecture takes place about the project's partnership with the tour operator Cabo Shark Dive in Cabo San Lucas; shark provisioning techniques; the research conducted at the project on pelagic shark populations; fieldwork techniques for the next day; and of course a briefing on safety guidelines to follow when interacting with the sharks. Dinner is served from 7pm, with the rest of the evening at leisure.
GROUP B: Both groups are served breakfast from 8am-9am. Volunteers and staff collect their snorkelling gear and head to the boat. This is an exciting day spent at sea looking for potential new shark dicing sites, as well as monitoring any other mega fauna such as whales, dolphins, mobula rats, orcas and sail fish. Packed lunches are served around 12pm, with dinner served at 7pm. The rest of the evening is spent at leisure.
Day 11: Group B will follow the schedule given to Group A on Day Ten; elsewhere, Group A can look forward to a day of fieldwork. Breakfast is very early at 4am, with snorkel gear packed before 4:45 when volunteers are transferred by car to Cabo San Lucas (approx 2.5 hours.) Arriving at 7:15, the volunteers meet the staff of Cabo Shark Dive and will be on their way for the first exciting pelagic dive! Spend the day at sea monitoring pelagic shark populations (blue sharks, makos, silky sharks, smooth hammerheads.) Packed lunches are served midway. Depart Cabo San Lucas around 4pm, arriving back at La Paz by 18:30. Dinner is served at 7pm; the rest of the evening is at leisure.
Group A will take an exploration day (as outlined in 'Day Ten' for group B); Group B will follow the schedule set in Day Eleven, repeating Group A's fieldwork schedule.
Both groups will spend today entering data, with meals being served at the typical times throughout the day.
Today is the final day of activities, with both groups joining forces once more. Breakfast is served at 8am; after which, staff and volunteers head to the Natural Protected Area of Balandra Bay by local bus to enjoy a glorious last day of expedition at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A delicious BBQ lunch is prepared right here on Balandra, before heading back to the facility for dinnertime (7pm.) The rest of the night is spent at leisure.
Day 15: It's a sad day, as volunteers say their goodbyes to the project staff, and to each other. Departure is in the morning
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