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Possible Effects of Tourism on Whales Investigated

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Mainly, the population abundance of humpback whales in the region and the effects of tourist vessels on their behavior.

As was done in the past in the face of indiscriminate whaling, researchers from the Grupo de Investigación de Mamíferos Marinos A.C. (GRIMMA) are now seeking to protect the species by evaluating the effects of whale watching activities on the cetaceans. (GRIMMA) are now seeking to protect the species by evaluating the effects of whale watching activities on the cetaceans. Biologists Iyari Espinoza and Roberto Moncada presented to the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau (OVC) the results of the study "Analysis of the humpback whale in Banderas Bay and the impact of tourism", which seeks to estimate, mainly, the population abundance of humpback whales in the region and the effects of tourist vessels on their behavior.

OVC REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT After learning the results of the study, the general director of the OVC, Marc Murphy, reaffirmed his commitment to the care and conservation of marine mammals, not only for what they are -a very precious natural resource-, but also for what they represent in the tourist activity of the destination. In addition to congratulating GRIMMA and thanking them for the work they do, Murphy expressed his concern about a possible massification of tourism in the region -especially in activities such as whale watching or whale watching- since the phenomenon suffered by oyPlaya del Amor in the Marietas Islands a little more than five years ago could be repeated, due to the environmental deterioration caused by the overexploitation of tourism. "We know that whale watching is a highly appreciated activity in Riviera Nayarit and has become one of our greatest attractions, hence the importance of being treated in a responsible and sustainable manner," he said.

MUTUAL BENEFIT Iyari Espinoza, who is also a researcher and doctoral student at the Centro Universitario de la Costa (University of Guadalajara), presented the results of the first year of sampling in Banderas Bay, corresponding to the first of three stages to be developed over the next two years. During his intervention, he indicated that it is imperative to look for a mutual benefit, that is to say, it is not only about benefiting the tourist service providers, but also the cetaceans. In addition to the main points already mentioned, he added, the study also seeks to evaluate the content of the information that the guides provide to tourists, in order to make recommendations to reduce the impact that whale watching practices may have on the whales, and thus improve the quality of their service.

PROTECTION OF NATURAL RESOURCES The Riviera Nayarit Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Banderas Bay Hotel and Motel Association will continue to collaborate with training courses for hotel personnel in contact with tourists, as well as for tour operators, so that they are aware of and comply with NOM-131-Semarnat-2010. "As a promotion office, it is essential to promote respect and care for the environment, as we believe that it is not only about maintaining an attractive tourist destination for travelers, but also about taking care of our home, the place where we live, and protecting the natural resources it provides us with," concluded Marc Murphy. At the conclusion of the presentation, both the president of GRIMMA, Roberto Moncada, and the Master in Science and Oceanology, Iyari Espinoza, thanked the great support received from different organizations for the study, among them the Punta de Mita Foundation, the National Technological Institute of Mexico Campus Bahía de Banderas and Corazón de Mar A.C.