June 4, 2010
As the month of June has arrived, in a matter of a few weeks, stronger trade winds from the south, will bring with them the cold and nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current, sweeping along the Pacific coasts of South America and the Eastern Pacific. With the climatic trend, several hundred unique visitors will invariably arrive too: the Humpback Whales, on their annual voyages of thousands of kilometers from the freezing Antarctic waters to the more pleasant Equatorial latitudes, the place chosen by these magnificent cetaceans to reproduce and raise their calves.
The presence of the Humpback whales attracts every year thousands of national and international visitors to the coasts of Ecuador to become privileged spectators of the immense marine mammals’ antics on their lively courtship rituals, which include amazing leaps out of the water, large splashing of the water surface with their front flippers and equally with their beautiful black and white rear flukes, providing viewers with truly memorable sights and the unique feeling of joy and awe which the proximity with these gentle leviathans, the earth’s largest animals, produces on human beings.
While the whales can be admired, practically along the entire length of the coast of Ecuador (and also the Galapagos Islands, to a smaller scale), the area of Machalilla National Park, on Ecuador’s central coast, in the province of Manabi, has been, for the last two decades, the hub and most popular center for the yearly “whale watching” season, from June to October. Each year, new measures have been adopted and permanently improved in order to prevent any negative impacts on the visiting whale population, caused by the visitors and the vessels which teem around their preferred breeding and feeding waters, right across from the coastline of mainland Ecuador.
In an additional effort to enhance these conservation measures, experts from the Galapagos National Park Service and the Institute of Applied Ecology from the San Francisco University of Quito’s Galapagos campus, arrived in recent days to the headquarters of Machalilla National Park to provide technical assistance to implement a fully designed Visitors System (SIMAVIS, for its initials in Spanish), which allows for an integral and technically ran system, especially devised to ordain the various elements involved and interacting in visitors’ management on protected and ecologically sensitive areas.
The advisory provided by the experts, who came from Galapagos with an ample baggage of experience and expertise in the field, included items such as the organization of routes, schedules, timetables and itineraries; rules and regulations for visitors, tour operators and boat’s captains and crews; management guidelines for visitors’ sites, including those fully marine as well as some coastal areas associated with the whale watching tourism modality; design and maintenance of special trails on land; complete surveillance and monitoring systems; Naturalist Guides and nature interpreters System and several other actions, policies and plans which will contribute to protect the integrity, tranquility and the temporary living grounds of the colossal giants of the sea, who flock to the Equatorial waters to spend some of the more vital moments of their lives and species’ survival, as are the reproductive periods and the subsequent raising of their offspring.
Meanwhile, Machalilla and the entire coast of Ecuador prepares, with enhanced protection measures, to welcome the mythical ocean giants and to, happily and in an organized manner, receive the dozens of thousands of visitors, who will come to the area, avid to live a fascinating travel experience, enjoying the peaceful and joyous presence of these magnificent cetaceans, the Humpback Whales, during the next four months….