It’s been a very exciting week for us here in The Great Projects office, as we’re very proud to not only introduce a brand-new project, but a brand-new destination, too! We’re happy to announce that we are now providing volunteers with the opportunity to jet off to beautiful Baja California Sur, to take part in vital shark research, and to make a real difference to future of sustainable tourism in the region. We’ve got plenty of interesting blogs to share over the coming days (including a fantastic interview with the project’s co-founder, Yago) but for now, allow us to give you the low-down on this exciting new expedition!
Where Is Baja California Sur?
As part of the Baja Peninsula, Baja California Sur is one of the most exciting destinations in all of Mexico…and the world. The peninsula has recently been voted one of the top locations to visit in 2017, and it’s not hard to understand why: the waters here are incredibly diverse, with coastlines facing either the Pacific Ocean or the Sea of Cortez, each with their own geographical and oceanographic features. The lower Sea of Cortez has a tropical feel, comparable to that of Hawaii and the Galapagos. On top of this, the waters here have fantastic visibility, making Baja California Sur the ideal destination for diving activities – but we’ll talk more about that later!
Baja California Sur is also well-noted for its dramatic landscape: think tranquil lagoons; rugged deserts; and hiking trails peppered with both beautiful and bizarre flora such as relaxing palms, striking fouquieriaceae, and of course the classic Mexican cactus. Most famous of all, however, is Baja’s impressive coastline. Stretching some 2131km, this destination represents a massive 22% of Mexico's total coastline, and the passion Baja’s people have for their beaches is almost palpable. A mere glimpse at Balandra Beach could take your breath away, but to learn about this Natural Protected Area (and the preservation efforts carried out here) is an experience all on its own. And it’s with this in mind, that the project leaves ‘the best until last…’meaning you’ll spend the last day of your trip enjoying a glorious expedition of Balandra itself! Trust us, you won’t want to miss out.
Which animals will I get to see at the project?
Remember earlier on how we said that Baja California Sur is the ideal destination for divers? Well, this certainly is the case – in fact, nearly one third of the world's total marine mammal species call this area home! When diving in Baja California Sur, you’ll see a number of shark species (such as hammerheads, whale sharks, smooth sharks and silky sharks); you’ll have the opportunity to swim with seal lions at Los Isolets; and you may even be lucky enough to spot creatures such as dolphins, humpback whales, grey whales, orcas and mobula rays! On top of this, there are around 900 fish species to be found in Baja’s waters; around 20% of which are endemic to the area.
How will I be making a difference by taking part?
While we can’t promise interaction with all the above species, most of them are very common sightings and, after all, the stars of the show are the sharks. You will be getting up close and personal with bull sharks, whale sharks and pelagic species across three modules on the project and, by volunteering, you’ll be contributing to the vital research experience necessary to aid conservation efforts in the area. The shark diving industry in Baja California Sur is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade, and the project aims to provide a viable method of ecotourism to its visitors – which is where you come in! The specific goals of the project are as follows:
- To create a baseline of shark population abundance, distribution, and composition at shark-diving sites in BCS
- To develop a long-term monitoring program of shark populations in BCS
- To set up conservation and management strategies for sustainable shark-diving activities
- To raise awareness of the importance of shark conservation within the local community and general public
- To help to the value of living sharks as a resource for ecotourism.
These goals will be obtained through volunteer activities such as photo I’Ding the animals, taking part in seminars with top lecturers in the field, and assessing shark behaviours (while working as a data source to estimate the impact of recreational divers.) On top of monitoring existing animals in Baja’s waters, you’ll also spend some time out at sea looking for potential new diving sites, or even spotting new life within existing populations!
Stay tuned for further information on the project, beginning with tomorrow's interview with the project's co-founder. But for now, why not take a real look at life on the project? Check out the video at the bottom of the page and prepare to be blown away!
Head to our project page now to find out more, and to begin your adventures in beautiful Baja California Sur, Mexico!
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Has this blog inspired you to volunteer? If so, why not enquire today? Simply fill out an enquiry form, and allow a member of our travel team to assist with your query! Please note that blog comments are not monitored by the travel team, so any questions related to bookings may be missed.
Come face to face with one of the world’s most misunderstood predators whilst aiding great white shark conservation. As a volunteer, not only will you get the incredible opportunity to dive with sharks, but you will also assist the team in raising awareness of the great white as you work alongside tourists and local school children to provide them with knowledge of the local environment and the importance of living in harmony with South Africa’s marine life.
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