Sea Shepherd Embarks on Operation Treasured Islands – Revillagigedo

Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico – February 23, 2020 – Sea Shepherd is pleased to announce the launch of Operation Treasured Islands – Revillagigedo, a conservation and research campaign aimed at studying the animals and ecosystems of the largest marine protected area in North America – Mexico’s Revillagigedo Archipelago. This expedition is focused on the study of humpback whales and other cetaceans, and the monitoring of plankton, fish, and pelagic species. Sea Shepherd will remain vigilant in detecting any illegal fishing activity which may be present within the marine park.

Working in collaboration with CONANP (Mexico’s Commission of Natural Protected Areas) and the research team of renowned cetacean researcher Dr. Hiram Rosales from MMAPE (Megafauna Marina y Pesquerías) of Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur (UABCS), this important scientific expedition will provide insights into the prevalence, health, reproduction, and movement patterns of humpback whales in the Revillagigedo Islands and Los Cabos. Scientists are interested in studying the growth of humpback whale calves and understanding how nursing affects the body mass of their mothers. A comparison of findings in Los Cabos – an area with high levels of human activity, and Revillagigedo – a pristine marine park, will allow scientists to understand if differences in humpback whale growth and well-being exist in areas with different levels of human activity.

This expedition will also allow for the continuation of photo identification and trophic studies of this population, enabling long term monitoring of whales returning to the Revillagigedo Archipelago.

Sea Shepherd’s M/V White Holly is currently at Revillagigedo and will serve as a research and monitoring vessel for this campaign, providing support to scientists and rangers from CONANP.

The Revillagigedo Archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage site located 240 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas and is a biodiversity hotspot for many species of marine megafauna including cetaceans, sharks, giant mantas, and various species of fish.

Humpback whales migrate to this area to give birth and nurse their calves, making these islands one of the most important breeding grounds in Mexico.They remain in the Archipelago from December to May, with the highest concentration being observed between mid-February and March.

This is the third season of Operation Treasured Islands – Revillagigedo. The information generated through this campaign will support decision makers in the management and conservation of the habitats of humpback whales and other cetaceans. Through this ongoing research partnership, Sea Shepherd remains committed to the protection of this unique marine ecosystem and the monitoring of all the species that depend on it.

Images taken in a Natural Protected Area designated by the Government of Mexico for the protection of it’s natural resources and subject to special regulations. Data and images collected under permit SGPA/DGVS/00823.

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