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Whale Shark Diving Quest and Research Project
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Whale Shark Diving Quest and Research Project

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 16 people
Destination(s): Mexico  
Specialty Categories: Marine Biology   Boating and Sailing  
Season: May - July
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 1795 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 1995 US Dollar (USD)

Each spring these amazing fish migrate to the Sea of Cortez, which teems with plankton, their primary food source. Feeding at the surface, the whale sharks give you plenty of opportunities for close encounters—even without the need for scuba gear. To increase the odds of finding them, we use a spotter plane for a limited time each trip to direct our boat towards the animals as they feed. During each encounter, you'll observe and assist visiting guide and researcher Dení Ramírez as she obtains DNA samples, takes photographic IDs and records behaviors. Data on feeding zones, biology, genetics and migratory patterns will be gathered and analyzed to promote global conservation of this threatened species.

We'll also stop at some of the best dive sites in the area that have earned the Sea of Cortez its world-famous reputation for diving excellence. Additionally, you'll learn how you can help with whale shark research after your trip by submitting photos and sighting information which will be used in mark-recapture studies. Your adventure is aboard our 80' Don Jose. Its high second and third decks provide spectacular vantage points as you ply the seas in search of whale sharks. The Don Jose comfortably accommodates up to 16 passengers in seven above-deck cabins, each with a changing area, storage closet, adjacent shower and head, and a sink in most.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in La Paz, Mexico. Arrive in La Paz and transfer to the Marina Don Jose to meet your dive master and visiting guide and check into the Don Jose. Spend the rest of the day exploring the colorful city of La Paz on your own before spending the night dockside onboard the Don Jose.

Days 2 - 6: Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). Early in the morning of the second day our search for the whale sharks begins, as we head out to the Sea of Cortez, also called the Gulf of California. Each spring the plankton rich waters near La Paz provide excellent feeding and breeding grounds for a variety of marine animals including whales, dolphins, sea lions and whale sharks. While all these species may be in the area, we will focus on encounters with whale sharks, the largest fish in all the oceans. The periodic aid of a spotter airplane will direct us to any animals found in the area. Our visiting guide and researcher, Deni Ramirez, will be on hand to help you learn more about this magnificent fish.

So little is known about the whale sharks that the research she is conducting is vital to understanding and protecting this threatened species. Obtaining DNA samples, taking photographic IDs and observing whale sharks to obtain sex ratios and sizes has allowed Dení to begin the process of defining the population. Participants will have a chance to assist Deni as she works with the sharks and learn more about the global effort to protect them through talks, discussions, and demonstrations. In addition to our encounters with whale sharks, we will explore some of the best dive sites in the area, normally doing up to four dives per day. The daily itinerary depends on the groups' experience level, location of the whale sharks, weather conditions, and other variables. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 7: Sea of Cortez to La Paz. After a morning dive to savor the last moments of this incredible getaway, it's time to say goodbye. We return to La Paz, having lunch en route, and transfer you to the Hotel Los Arcos. Includes: (B), (L).

Day 8: La Paz to your home city. Depart to your home city.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Deluxe or standard shipboard accommodations on days 1-6
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
- Hotel on night 7
- Beer, soda and wine while shipboard
- Spotter plane to search for whale sharks (Limited time)
- Dive tanks, weights and belts
- Transfer from airport to the Don Jose on day 1
- Services of knowledgeable guides and caring crew members.

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