Spatial and Temporal Dynamic of Whale Watching in Península Valdés, Patagonia, Argentina
ANA FAZIO; MARÍA BELÉN ARGÜELLES; MARCELO BERTELLOTTI
THE JOURNAL OF CETACEAN RESEARCH AND MANAGEMENT
International Whaling Commission
Año: 2015 vol. 15 p. 69 - 76
Península Valdés is considered one of the best places in the world to watch southern right whales (Eubalaena australis), due to the large number of animals, their predictability and proximity to the coast. The present study describes the spatial and temporal dynamic of whale watching, and the different groups of whales that were focus of this activity in Península Valdés along the six reproductive seasons between 2005 and 2013 in order to generate useful tools to improve the whale watching activity. Data were recorded from 1816 whale watching trips operated from Puerto Pirámides. Every trip had several stopovers to watch whales defined as ?sightings?. At the beginning of the season most sightings were done near Puerto Pirámides port, while at the end of the season were done farther port. During the first half of the whale season, trips tended to be coastal and shorter but the groups of whales sighted were more varied, including solitary animals, mating groups and mothers with their recently born calves. In the second half of the season, trips tended to be further from the coast and longer, but the groups of whales sighted were mainly mother-calf pairs, the last group of whales to leave the area. This difference in the characteristics of the sightings along the whale season could be the basis for generating different recreational experience opportunities. Whale watching has a major impact on the regional economy and whale watching regulations, if correctly applied, could improve the quality of a conservation plan, considering that both gulfs of Península Valdés (San José and Nuevo) are the main calving areas for this species in the South Atlantic Ocean.