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BAJA SHARK PROJECT


CITIZEN SCIENCE PROGRAM

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BAJA SHARK PROJECT


CITIZEN SCIENCE PROGRAM

 

THE SHARK ODYSSEY

SHARK RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION CITIZEN SCIENCE PROGRAM IN BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR

 

The Shark Odyssey is looking for citizen scientists to join our shark research and conservation program based in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. During the 7/14 day program,  participants will encounter a high variety of shark species while working on high impact conservation programs alongside respected scientists and internationally renowned shark research experts. World citizens with a passion for marine wildlife are welcome to join our program not only to gain research experience but as a worthwhile travel experience.

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Highlights


HIGHLIGHTS

 

- INTERACT WITH WILD SHARKS IN THE OPEN OCEAN -

- GAIN RESEARCH EXPERIENCE IN

SHARK CONSERVATION-

- CONDUCT SHARK MONITORING SURVEYS -

- DIVE IN ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MARINE RESERVES IN THE WORLD -

- MARINE MEGAFAUNA ENCOUNTERS AND SIGHTINGS (MOBULA RAYS, SEA LIONS, DOLPHINS, WHALES) -

- HELP INCREASE THE VALUE OF LIVING SHARKS -

- BE A CITIZEN SCIENTIST FOR SHARK CONSERVATION -

 

Highlights


HIGHLIGHTS

 

- INTERACT WITH WILD SHARKS IN THE OPEN OCEAN -

- GAIN RESEARCH EXPERIENCE IN

SHARK CONSERVATION-

- CONDUCT SHARK MONITORING SURVEYS -

- DIVE IN ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MARINE RESERVES IN THE WORLD -

- MARINE MEGAFAUNA ENCOUNTERS AND SIGHTINGS (MOBULA RAYS, SEA LIONS, DOLPHINS, WHALES) -

- HELP INCREASE THE VALUE OF LIVING SHARKS -

- BE A CITIZEN SCIENTIST FOR SHARK CONSERVATION -

 

Program Overview

Citizen scientists are vital to the success of our shark conservation project. We are committed to deliver high quality experiences that provide scientific shark research knowledge, fieldwork experience and exciting wild shark encounters. We are a pioneer organization using citizen science for shark conservation and shark diving ecotourism as a data source for science.  Our aim is to connect general public to shark conservation from theoretical seminars to shark diving field sessions, to demonstrate that everyone with passion and interest in sharks can carry out shark conservation studies.  

The 7/14 day program is an intensive shark and marine conservation course where citizen scientists of different backgrounds will get hands-on experience in the field of shark conservation. During the program, participants will conduct research studies in shark aggregation sites, or how we like to call them, our natural laboratory. Data collected will help us estimate shark population status, shark dive site carrying capacities and the value of living sharks. Data and collected samples will directly contribute to ongoing research conducted by local NGO’s and research institutions led by world-renowned shark scientists.  Not only will we use this data to reinforce existing studies, we will also monitor shark populations at non-surveyed locations. Ultimately, this information will contribute to the successful implementation of conservation and management strategies for a sustainable shark watching industry in Southern Baja California.

The program is split in to three main modules, each of which are comprised of theoretical seminars and field sessions. In the first module, participants will monitor Whale shark populations in La Paz Bay during snorkeling surveys. Bull shark populations are the target of module two. For that, participants will conduct basic shark population census and assess shark-diver interactions during scuba diving surveys at Cabo Pulmo National Park. In module three, citizen scientists will conduct research on pelagic shark populations off the coast of Cabo San Lucas during snorkeling/free diving surveys. In addition to the three research modules, the 7/14 day citizen science program includes scuba diving with sea lions at Los Islotes, diving with mobula rays, museum visits, and a glorious day in the Natural Protected Area of Balandra beach.

 

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QUICK FACTS

Location: La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Activities: 

  • Interact with wild shark populations (scuba, free diving, snorkeling)
  • Interact with other mega-fauna (whales, dolphins, sea lions, mobula rays, etc.)
  • Learn shark research methodology to monitor and conserve shark populations
  • Socio-economic valuation of the shark diving industry in Baja California Sur

Transportation: In-country transportation included

Meals/Accommodation: 3 meals a day included / Sailboat and Typical Mexican Hacienda

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La Paz Bay


MODULE 1

Whale sharks in La Paz Bay

La Paz Bay


MODULE 1

Whale sharks in La Paz Bay

In the Gulf of California, whale sharks aggregate seasonally in three different areas, one of them being La Paz Bay. From September to June juvenile whale sharks are located in La Paz Bay in feeding aggregations. 

Our partners at Pelagios Kakunjá have been conducting research on whale shark populations, focusing on such topics as feeding ecology and population dynamics to sustainable shark tourism development. 

Participants will carry out several non-invasive fieldwork protocols. During snorkeling sessions, interns will perform Photo-ID and size estimation surveys to assess whale shark population dynamics. Moreover, interns will also record data on tourism pressure at the site in order to evaluate carrying capacity limits for the activity.

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Cabo Pulmo


MODULE 2

Bull sharks in Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo


MODULE 2

Bull sharks in Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo National Park (CPNP) is one of the most robust marine reserves in the world. Fishing was banned inside the park and now Cabo Pulmo’s reef is called an “Ocean Miracle”.  The protection of spawning areas for large predators has been key to the reserve's robustness. In fact, shark sightings have significantly increased in recent years and species such as bull sharks, lemon sharks and black tip sharks have been recorded during scientific surveys. The national park's marine life recovery has spawned eco-tourism businesses focused on shark diving operations. However, the impact of tourism on shark populations has not been yet evaluated; carrying capacity limits should be implemented in order to hold a healthy long-term shark diving industry at Cabo Pulmo National Park.

The Shark Odyssey in collaboration with Pelagios-Kakunja has been combining efforts in order to monitor shark populations and estimating the impact of touristic activities on bull shark populations at the marine park. Scientists from both organizations have designed a specific protocol to assess the carrying capacity for shark diving activities.

Participants will perform basic shark population census during SCUBA surveys.

 

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Cabo San Lucas


MODULE 3

Pelagic sharks in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas


MODULE 3

Pelagic sharks in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is located 150 kilometres south form La Paz and it represents the final end of the Baja Peninsula. Here the Northern California current, the Southern California counter-current and a strong coastal upwelling work together to create a marine environment with an incredible biodiversity of pelagic species.  Some of these sites are almost unknown and unexplored. 

Cabo Shark Dive runs a sustainable shark diving tourism operation in Cabo San Lucas, allowing tourists to swim with sharks and employing local fishermen. The goal of this project is to use this existing sustainable shark diving operation implemented by Cabo Shark Dive to monitor and census pelagic shark species (makos, blue sharks, hammerheads and silky sharks), and to assess shark behavior and  interactions with megafauna. 

As a citizen scientist you will perform basic shark census surveys: count number of sharks of each species, identify all individuals present at the dive, collect data from different behaviors, and record special markings on each individual shark. In addition, this project allows participants to create a bond with sharks that they cannot experience anywhere in the world.

 
 

 

 

 

FOOD/ACCOMMODATION

Participants live together in a sailing boat docked in La Paz, with a maximum of 5 volunteers sharing the space. Our staff looks after the boat and prepares three meals a day. Packed lunches are provided on days in the field. Refreshments (fruit juice and soft drinks) are available at no extra cost. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is only allowed at the end of the work day and are not included. 

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PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

  • This 7/14 day program is exclusively for certified SCUBA divers; you are required to have at least an Open Water PADI qualification, or equivalent. If you are not a certified SCUBA diver, we can facilitate the achievement of this typically 4-day course. Please note that any dive training will need to be completed prior to the start of the expedition.
  • Scuba diving insurance
  • Travel insurance valid in Mexico covering all program activities for the entire duration of the program
  • 18 years old or older only
  • Good fitness and confidence in the marine environment

DATES AND PRICES

Program fees include:

  • 3 meals/day and accommodation during the 7/14 day program
  • Scuba diving gear (BCD, Reg, tanks, weights)
  • Lectures, seminars and field work sessions
  • In-country transportation during the program
  • Non-alcoholic refreshments

Program fees don't include:

  • Flights to/from La Paz
  • Transportation from airport to meeting point
  • Snorkeling gear (fins, mask, snorkel and wetsuit)
  • Alcoholic beverages 

 

Click here for  specific program start dates and prices