Whale Shark Live-Aboard Research Voyage
Just bring your snorkel and fins, and you can participate in a once-in-a-lifetime research project in the Sea of Cortez, supporting local marine biologists studying whale shark populations, sailing aboard our Catamaran El Mechudo. Like sharks everywhere, these animals are threatened, and this essential research contributes to the growing base of knowledge necessary to save them.
Observe these gentle giants up close as they feast on plankton in the rich, warm sea. During each whale shark encounter, you'll observe and assist our researchers in making photographic IDs, recording behaviors, and even obtaining DNA samples. Data on feeding zones, biology, genetics, and migratory patterns will be analyzed to promote global conservation of this threatened species. You will live aboard Catamaran El Mechudo comfortably, and you can hike, kayak, swim, and explore nature in between whale shark sightings. Your expedition is also supported by spotter seaplane El Peregrino, whose pilot keeps eyes peeled for whale sharks from the air. If you’re a scuba diver, bring your gear and jump on in! This expedition is available in May and June.
Known locally as “toad fish,” the whale sharks grow to maturity feeding in the nursery of La Paz Bay before the females migrate to the deeper waters around Espiritu Santo Island to give birth.
MEET THE SCIENTISTS:
Dr. Dení Ramírez-Macías is a researcher and Director at Whale Shark México. She is a conservation biologist with a vision to promote and contribute to ocean conservation and sustainability by the integration of scientific research, sustainable management, environmental education, and inter-institutional collaboration. She started her study of the whale shark in the Gulf of California over ten years ago and continues with research that focuses on the migratory patterns of whale sharks in the Gulf of California and surrounding areas. Dení has been working closely with the Mexican government in its program to protect and preserve the whale shark populations in Mexican waters, as well as training local tour operators in La Paz in order to create sustainable whale shark tourism.
Dr. James Ketchum is co-founder and Vice-President at Pelagios Kakunjá. He has been studying sharks and manta rays for the last fifteen years, with a particular focus on the ecology of the whale shark in the Gulf of California and the movements of the hammerhead shark in the Galapagos Islands. He is currently studying the behavior of several species of sharks and pelagic fish in the Mexican Pacific and Tropical East Pacific. For several years James has been dedicated to ecotourism in the Gulf of California. He is a founding member of Migramar for the study of marine migratory species, as well as of Pelagios-Kakunjá, A.C. He is also a former Baja Expeditions guide.
Baja Expeditions is pleased to be able to support the important work done by our collaborating scientists; as a guest, you will learn more about the world's largest fish and its preservation through presentations, dialogue, and hands-on collaboration.
Ready to start your Baja Expedition? Book your trip today!
Start: La Paz
End: La Paz
Wildlife Viewing & Research
Little Ones — Grandparents
Easy — All Fitness Levels
4 Cabins available on board
USD $5200 per cabin for up to 6 guests (2 people/cabin)
USD $4780 for 4th cabin, sharing head (restroom) w/ crew
USD $750 for extra person in cabin 1 or 2 (these cabins sleep up to 3)
Minimum: 6 guests for trip to go; Maximum: 10 guests (Questions? Contact us!)
Our flexible itineraries are designed to change with weather, tides and animals' habits
Our main objective is to locate female whale sharks and support research protocols
Visit coastline and Islands of La Paz — common anchorages include: Espiritu Santo Island, Los Islotes, Santa Cruz Island, and San José Island
Spend first night aboard Catamaran El Mechudo at dock; AM departure
Includes final night hotel accommodation; Catamaran El Mechudo returns to La Paz in afternoon
Expedition gear, plus equipment for kayak, SUP, snorkel, and bird watching; for scuba diving, weights and tanks are provided
Food & Drinks
Local seafood, Mexican & International cuisine
Local fresh juices and waters
Cerveza, wine, spirits by request — in moderation
Other Cool Stuff
Kayak and paddleboard use at anchorages
Want to see more? Visit our Photo Gallery
Your ticket price directly subsidizes whale shark research
Citizen Scientist bragging rights
Any additional contributions you may want to make to preserve Wild Baja are greatly appreciated and tax deductible!
What Should You Bring?
Personal clothes and gear:
~April & May: layers for sun, heat and wind*
(*detailed packing list in Welcome Packet)
Diving? Bring: your personal BCD & regulator, dive computer, mask, fins, wetsuit
Willingness to explore
Art supplies, if desired
Gratuities for BE team at your discretion