The Sayulita

Humpback Whale Fluke

Identification Catalogue

 

The tails of humpback whales are unique, and if you manage to take a high quality photograph of the underside of an indiviual's tail you should be able to identify that whale throughout it's life, as long as it doesn't have any major accidents.

 

The intricate details of a humpback whale's tail is very literally like a fingerprint of a human being. It is the shape of the tail, the form, the coloration, the pigmentation, scars and scratches, the serration of the trailing edge, and the shape of the median notch (the area in the middle between the two tail flukes).

 

It was first discovered you could identify individual humpback whales by their tails in the late 1960s, and since that time scientists have been building up catalogues of images of different whale's tails that visit areas each year. Known as a "Fluke Identification Catalogue" it has become the basic tool for a huge variety of humpback whale research worldwide, and will enable us to start a multitude of research projects here in Sayulita.

 

We plan to share the images and data we collect here in Sayulita with researchers within Mexico, across the North Pacific and worldwide.

 

We also help to educate and inspire local children about whale and marine conservation by getting them to name the individual whales we identify.

Humpback Whale

Habitat Use of Sayulita and

the Surrounding Area

 

By starting the first "Sayulita Humpback Whale Fluke Identification Catalogue" we hope to be able to better understand the habitat use of humpback whales in the area, the connection with other areas across the North Pacific, and to compare the habitat use of humpback whales along the Nayarit coast with the Bay of Banderas and other regions in Mexico.

 

It is our aim to try and understand whether the region is a migratory corridor for Mexican humpback whales, or whether it serves a specific function for the species. Whether the area is used for calving (upper image, right: a pregnant female, which appeared to be in labor), whether nursing females remain within the area for multiple days, or whether it is an area where mating and courtship regularly occurs.

 

We also hope to be able to observe and record any unusual behaviors that occur in the area (lower image, right: feeding episodes in Nayarit/Jalisco 2011/2012). In addition, by being out on the water and watching and researching the whales, it will increase the vigilance of whales visiting the area and give us the perfect opportunity to check on the health and welfare of the whales that visit the waters of Sayulita. For example if an entangled whale enters the region we can immediately contact the local disentanglement network (image below: calf entangled via the mouth to fishing line).

Top: A large seemingly pregnant humpback whale that remained in the surface for several hours, breathing heavily, appearing to be in labor.

Middle: Humpback whales generally fast for extended periods when on their breeding grounds, but from late December 2011 to mid-January 2012 humpbacks were witnessed gulp feeding in groups of up to 30 animals along the Nayarit and Jalisco coast.

Down: A calf humpback whale in Nayarit breaching. It was being observed by a whale watch boat, and was only seen to be entangled after it started to breach (with it's mother).

Cetacean Occurrence,

Distribution and Habitat

Use of Sayulita and the

Surrounding Area

 

We hope to be able to understand more about the habitat use of the the waters of Sayulita and the surrounding area, by other species of cetaceans apart from humpback whales, and to identify the areas that they are mostly found.

 

In the case of species such as orca killer whales and bottlenose dolphins, we hope to start additional identification catalogues using photos of their dorsal fins and other readily identifiable features.

 

The coast of Nayarit is undergoing major development due to tourism and will receive increased shipping traffic due to the expansion of nearby ports, and the planned major construction of a large container port. Therefore it is essential that we better understand cetacean abundance and distribution within the region. Until our documentation of sperm whales of Sayulita, the species had not been recorded in the state. This highlights that further research is greatly needed within the area, to allow for new mitigation and management measures to be considered to  protect and conserve the cetaceans of Nayarit.

Nico's Phd Project:

The spatial ecology of humpback whales and risk of vessel collision in Nayarit, Mexico

 

Pacific Mexico is renowned for having extremely high cetacean diversity (>40% of the worlds cetacean species) and the state of Nayarit is centrally located on the Pacific coast at the entrance to the Sea of Cortez, one of the most bio-diverse and productive marine ecosystems in the world. While there is a lack of knowledge regarding many cetacean species in the area, Nayarit’s waters are part of an important North Pacific breeding and calving area, known as ‘mainland Mexico’.

 

In 2016, the US government’s NOAA downlisted 9 of the 14 humpback whale populations to ‘Not at Risk’, however the Mexican population was revised to ‘Threatened’ and the Central American whales (which migrate through the Mexican Pacific) as ‘Endangered’.

 

Despite the importance of Nayarit’s coastal waters for humpback whales, little is known of the species’ seasonal habitat use, abundance and distribution outside of the most southerly waters of the state that experiences high tourism. The Mexican government recently announced in 2014 their National Infrastructure Program, which includes the port expansion in Mazatlán.

 

Additionally, the local government announced a few months later a significant port development in Nayarit, planned to be the deepest port entrance in Latin America, and the only one able to dock the world’s largest cargo ships (which can carry approximately 10,000 40 foot containers). Vessel traffic has already increased in this region due to a strengthened resolve to increase tourism via the development of ‘Rivera Nayarit’ by the Mexican government as the newest tourism destination of Mexico.

 

Ship strikes is one of the major global threats to large whales and their population recovery, with humpback whales being one of the most commonly hit species. Due to the significant planned port development in the area and increased tourism, an understanding of the spatial use of the region by humpback whales is essential for appropriate management and mitigation measures to be developed for this threatened population. This tudy that will focus on the spatial ecology of humpback whales in Nayarit, Mexico and will use species distribution modelling to understand the relationship between their abundance, distribution and the oceanographic environment. Combined with current AIS and shipping data in the region of the port of Nayarit, a risk assessment framework of vessel strike to whales will be developed.

 

Recommendations will be developed to inform the Mexican government during the port development phase of proposed shipping lanes that will minimize ship strike risk of humpback whales, which will likely be an emerging issue.

design by:

The Sayulita

Humpback Whale Fluke

Identification Catalogue

 

The tails of humpback whales are unique, and if you manage to take a high quality photograph of the underside of an indiviual's tail you should be able to identify that whale throughout it's life, as long as it doesn't have any major accidents.

 

The intricate details of a humpback whale's tail is very literally like a fingerprint of a human being. It is the shape of the tail, the form, the coloration, the pigmentation, scars and scratches, the serration of the trailing edge, and the shape of the median notch (the area in the middle between the two tail flukes).

 

It was first discovered you could identify individual humpback whales by their tails in the late 1960s, and since that time scientists have been building up catalogues of images of different whale's tails that visit areas each year. Known as a "Fluke Identification Catalogue" it has become the basic tool for a huge variety of humpback whale research worldwide, and will enable us to start a multitude of research projects here in Sayulita.

 

We plan to share the images and data we collect here in Sayulita with researchers within Mexico, across the North Pacific and worldwide.

 

We also help to educate and inspire local children about whale and marine conservation by getting them to name the individual whales we identify.

Humpback Whale

Habitat Use of Sayulita and

the Surrounding Area

 

By starting the first "Sayulita Humpback Whale Fluke Identification Catalogue" we hope to be able to better understand the habitat use of humpback whales in the area, the connection with other areas across the North Pacific, and to compare the habitat use of humpback whales along the Nayarit coast with the Bay of Banderas and other regions in Mexico.

 

It is our aim to try and understand whether the region is a migratory corridor for Mexican humpback whales, or whether it serves a specific function for the species. Whether the area is used for calving (upper image, right: a pregnant female, which appeared to be in labor), whether nursing females remain within the area for multiple days, or whether it is an area where mating and courtship regularly occurs.

 

We also hope to be able to observe and record any unusual behaviors that occur in the area (lower image, right: feeding episodes in Nayarit/Jalisco 2011/2012). In addition, by being out on the water and watching and researching the whales, it will increase the vigilance of whales visiting the area and give us the perfect opportunity to check on the health and welfare of the whales that visit the waters of Sayulita. For example if an entangled whale enters the region we can immediately contact the local disentanglement network (image below: calf entangled via the mouth to fishing line).

Top left: A large seemingly pregnant humpback whale that remained in the surface for several hours, breathing heavily, appearing to be in labor.

Below left: Humpback whales generally fast for extended periods when on their breeding grounds, but from late December 2011 to mid-January 2012 humpbacks were witnessed gulp feeding in groups of up to 30 animals along the Nayarit and Jalisco coast.

Right: A calf humpback whale in Nayarit breaching. It was being observed by a whale watch boat, and was only seen to be entangled after it started to breach (with it's mother).

Top left: A large seemingly pregnant humpback whale that remained in the surface for several hours, breathing heavily, appearing to be in labor.

Below left: Humpback whales generally fast for extended periods when on their breeding grounds, but from late December 2011 to mid-January 2012 humpbacks were witnessed gulp feeding in groups of up to 30 animals along the Nayarit and Jalisco coast.

Cetacean Occurrence,

Distribution and Habitat

Use of Sayulita and the

Surrounding Area

 

We hope to be able to understand more about the habitat use of the the waters of Sayulita and the surrounding area, by other species of cetaceans apart from humpback whales, and to identify the areas that they are mostly found.

 

In the case of species such as orca killer whales and bottlenose dolphins, we hope to start additional identification catalogues using photos of their dorsal fins and other readily identifiable features.

 

The coast of Nayarit is undergoing major development due to tourism and will receive increased shipping traffic due to the expansion of nearby ports, and the planned major construction of a large container port. Therefore it is essential that we better understand cetacean abundance and distribution within the region. Until our documentation of sperm whales of Sayulita, the species had not been recorded in the state. This highlights that further research is greatly needed within the area, to allow for new mitigation and management measures to be considered to  protect and conserve the cetaceans of Nayarit.

The Sayulita

Humpback Whale Fluke

Identification Catalogue

 

The tails of humpback whales are unique, and if you manage to take a high quality photograph of the underside of an indiviual's tail you should be able to identify that whale throughout it's life, as long as it doesn't have any major accidents.

 

The intricate details of a humpback whale's tail is very literally like a fingerprint of a human being. It is the shape of the tail, the form, the coloration, the pigmentation, scars and scratches, the serration of the trailing edge, and the shape of the median notch (the area in the middle between the two tail flukes).

 

It was first discovered you could identify individual humpback whales by their tails in the late 1960s, and since that time scientists have been building up catalogues of images of different whale's tails that visit areas each year. Known as a "Fluke Identification Catalogue" it has become the basic tool for a huge variety of humpback whale research worldwide, and will enable us to start a multitude of research projects here in Sayulita.

 

We plan to share the images and data we collect here in Sayulita with researchers within Mexico, across the North Pacific and worldwide.

 

We also help to educate and inspire local children about whale and marine conservation by getting them to name the individual whales we identify.

Humpback Whale

Habitat Use of Sayulita and

the Surrounding Area

 

By starting the first "Sayulita Humpback Whale Fluke Identification Catalogue" we hope to be able to better understand the habitat use of humpback whales in the area, the connection with other areas across the North Pacific, and to compare the habitat use of humpback whales along the Nayarit coast with the Bay of Banderas and other regions in Mexico.

 

It is our aim to try and understand whether the region is a migratory corridor for Mexican humpback whales, or whether it serves a specific function for the species. Whether the area is used for calving (upper image, right: a pregnant female, which appeared to be in labor), whether nursing females remain within the area for multiple days, or whether it is an area where mating and courtship regularly occurs.

 

We also hope to be able to observe and record any unusual behaviors that occur in the area (lower image, right: feeding episodes in Nayarit/Jalisco 2011/2012). In addition, by being out on the water and watching and researching the whales, it will increase the vigilance of whales visiting the area and give us the perfect opportunity to check on the health and welfare of the whales that visit the waters of Sayulita. For example if an entangled whale enters the region we can immediately contact the local disentanglement network (image below: calf entangled via the mouth to fishing line).

Top left: A large seemingly pregnant humpback whale that remained in the surface for several hours, breathing heavily, appearing to be in labor.

Below left: Humpback whales generally fast for extended periods when on their breeding grounds, but from late December 2011 to mid-January 2012 humpbacks were witnessed gulp feeding in groups of up to 30 animals along the Nayarit and Jalisco coast.

Right: A calf humpback whale in Nayarit breaching. It was being observed by a whale watch boat, and was only seen to be entangled after it started to breach (with it's mother).

Cetacean Occurrence,

Distribution and Habitat

Use of Sayulita and the

Surrounding Area

 

We hope to be able to understand more about the habitat use of the the waters of Sayulita and the surrounding area, by other species of cetaceans apart from humpback whales, and to identify the areas that they are mostly found.

 

In the case of species such as orca killer whales and Bottlenose dolphins, we hope to start additional identification catalogue using photos of their dorsal fins and other readily identifiable features.

 

The coast of Nayarit is undergoing major development due to tourism and will receive increased shipping traffic due to the expansion of nearby ports, and the planned major construction of a new port nearby. Therefore it is essential that we better understand cetacean abundance and distribution within the region. Until our documentation of sperm whales of Sayulita, the species had not yet been recorded in the state. This highlights that further research is greatly needed within the state.

The Sayulita

Humpback Whale Fluke

Identification Catalogue

 

The tails of humpback whales are unique, and if you manage to take a high quality photograph of the underside of an indiviual's tail you should be able to identify that whale throughout it's life, as long as it doesn't have any major accidents.

 

The intricate details of a humpback whale's tail is very literally like a fingerprint of a human being. It is the shape of the tail, the form, the coloration, the pigmentation, scars and scratches, the serration of the trailing edge, and the shape of the median notch (the area in the middle between the two tail flukes).

 

It was first discovered you could identify individual humpback whales by their tails in the late 1960s, and since that time scientists have been building up catalogues of images of different whale's tails that visit areas each year. Known as a "Fluke Identification Catalogue" it has become the basic tool for a huge variety of humpback whale research worldwide, and will enable us to start a multitude of research projects here in Sayulita.

 

We plan to share the images and data we collect here in Sayulita with researchers within Mexico, across the North Pacific and worldwide.

 

We also help to educate and inspire local children about whale and marine conservation by getting them to name the individual whales we identify.

Humpback Whale

Habitat Use of Sayulita and

the Surrounding Area

 

By starting the first "Sayulita Humpback Whale Fluke Identification Catalogue" we hope to be able to better understand the habitat use of humpback whales in the area, the connection with other areas across the North Pacific, and to compare the habitat use of humpback whales along the Nayarit coast with the Bay of Banderas and other regions in Mexico.

 

It is our aim to try and understand whether the region is a migratory corridor for Mexican humpback whales, or whether it serves a specific function for the species. Whether the area is used for calving (upper image, right: a pregnant female, which appeared to be in labor), whether nursing females remain within the area for multiple days, or whether it is an area where mating and courtship regularly occurs.

 

We also hope to be able to observe and record any unusual behaviors that occur in the area (lower image, right: feeding episodes in Nayarit/Jalisco 2011/2012). In addition, by being out on the water and watching and researching the whales, it will increase the vigilance of whales visiting the area and give us the perfect opportunity to check on the health and welfare of the whales that visit the waters of Sayulita. For example if an entangled whale enters the region we can immediately contact the local disentanglement network (image below: calf entangled via the mouth to fishing line).

Right: A calf humpback whale in Nayarit breaching. It was being observed by a whale watch boat, and was only seen to be entangled after it started to breach (with it's mother).

Cetacean Occurrence,

Distribution and Habitat

Use of Sayulita and the

Surrounding Area

 

We hope to be able to understand more about the habitat use of the the waters of Sayulita and the surrounding area, by other species of cetaceans apart from humpback whales, and to identify the areas that they are mostly found.

 

In the case of species such as orca killer whales and Bottlenose dolphins, we hope to start additional identification catalogue using photos of their dorsal fins and other readily identifiable features.

 

The coast of Nayarit is undergoing major development due to tourism and will receive increased shipping traffic due to the expansion of nearby ports, and the planned major construction of a new port nearby. Therefore it is essential that we better understand cetacean abundance and distribution within the region. Until our documentation of sperm whales of Sayulita, the species had not yet been recorded in the state. This highlights that further research is greatly needed within the state.

Nico's Phd Project:

The spatial ecology of humpback whales and risk of vessel collision in Nayarit, Mexico

 

Pacific Mexico is renowned for having extremely high cetacean diversity (>40% of the worlds cetacean species) and the state of Nayarit is centrally located on the Pacific coast at the entrance to the Sea of Cortez, one of the most bio-diverse and productive marine ecosystems in the world. While there is a lack of knowledge regarding many cetacean species in the area, Nayarit’s waters are part of an important North Pacific breeding and calving area, known as ‘mainland Mexico’.

 

In 2016, the US government’s NOAA downlisted 9 of the 14 humpback whale populations to ‘Not at Risk’, however the Mexican population was revised to ‘Threatened’ and the Central American whales (which migrate through the Mexican Pacific) as ‘Endangered’.

 

Despite the importance of Nayarit’s coastal waters for humpback whales, little is known of the species’ seasonal habitat use, abundance and distribution outside of the most southerly waters of the state that experiences high tourism. The Mexican government recently announced in 2014 their National Infrastructure Program, which includes the port expansion in Mazatlán.

 

Additionally, the local government announced a few months later a significant port development in Nayarit, planned to be the deepest port entrance in Latin America, and the only one able to dock the world’s largest cargo ships (which can carry approximately 10,000 40 foot containers). Vessel traffic has already increased in this region due to a strengthened resolve to increase tourism via the development of ‘Rivera Nayarit’ by the Mexican government as the newest tourism destination of Mexico.

 

Ship strikes is one of the major global threats to large whales and their population recovery, with humpback whales being one of the most commonly hit species. Due to the significant planned port development in the area and increased tourism, an understanding of the spatial use of the region by humpback whales is essential for appropriate management and mitigation measures to be developed for this threatened population. This tudy that will focus on the spatial ecology of humpback whales in Nayarit, Mexico and will use species distribution modelling to understand the relationship between their abundance, distribution and the oceanographic environment. Combined with current AIS and shipping data in the region of the port of Nayarit, a risk assessment framework of vessel strike to whales will be developed.

 

Recommendations will be developed to inform the Mexican government during the port development phase of proposed shipping lanes that will minimize ship strike risk of humpback whales, which will likely be an emerging issue.