Operation Divina Guadalupe is Sea Shepherd’s beaked whale research project in Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
Cuvier’s beaked whales are considered the most extreme mammal divers in the world, with the ability to dive down to almost 10,000 feet or 3000 meters – roughly the length of eight Empire State Buildings! They can stay under water for up to two hours and only need a few minutes of surface oxygen before going back down. Therefore, this exceptional diving ability makes beaked whales elusive to scientists and challenging to study.
In comparison, the second most extreme diving mammal, the sperm whale, has been documented to reach a maximum depth of 7382 feet and spends longer periods of time at the sea surface in between deep dives.
A group of Mexican and U.S. scientists, aided by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, survey Guadalupe Island. The island lies off the coast of Mexico, and its waters are the site of the highest number of worldwide sightings of Cuvier’s beaked whales ever recorded over a two-week period.
The discovery of such a high number of Cuvier’s beaked whales during a two-week period gave the Divina Guadalupe I scientists on board Sea Shepherd’s vessel an opportunity to study their habitat and behavioral patterns – essential to gaining more knowledge and understanding of these elusive cetaceans. Since then, Sea Shepherd and the scientists led by Gustavo Cardenas have been returning to the island to study these whales.
During the second expedition, Sea Shepherd crew were able to capture never seen before drone footage of a mother and calf Cuvier’s beaked whales.
Operation Guadalupe is currently on its fourth expedition.