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Peru

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Extent of whale and dolphin watching

Peru’s waters host 32 species of whales and dolphins. This incredible biodiversity is made possible by the confluence of the cold Humboldt current with warm tropical waters of the Pacific.  Between the months of July and October, the northern coast of Peru (between the states of Piura and Tumbes) serves as a breeding ground for humpback whales.  These whales formed the focus of a growing whale watching industry, including a few companies dedicated to research tourism. These companies host marine experts who collect data on the whales that are observed at the same time that they act as guides.  Many operators also offer more general marine tours that include the possibility of observing dolphins, marine turtles, sea lions and sea birds as well as whales.  Tours are offered on larger dedicated tour vessels, or by artisanal fishermen who take tourists out as a means to supplement their income when they are not fishing.

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Species

County/region

Towns or harbours

Platform (motorized boat, swim-with, aerial)

Peak time of year to observe

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Piura, Tumbes

Los Organos, Máncora, El Ñuro, Cabo Blanco

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

July - October

Common Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Alongside Peruvian coast

Los Organos, Máncora, El Ñuro, Cabo Blanco, Pucusana, Paracas

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Summer

Dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus)

Alongside Peruvian coast

Los Organos, Máncora, El Ñuro, Cabo Blanco, Pucusana, Paracas

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Summer

Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

Alongside Peruvian coast

Los Organos, Máncora, El Ñuro, Cabo Blanco, Pucusana, Paracas

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Summer

Long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus Capensis)

Alongside Peruvian coast

Los Organos, Máncora, El Ñuro, Cabo Blanco, Pucusana, Paracas

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Summer

Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris)

Piura, Tumbes

Los Organos, Máncora, El Ñuro, Cabo Blanco

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Summer

Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuate)

Piura

Los Organos

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Rarely seen

Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni)

Piura

Los Organos

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Rarely observed

Killer whale (Orcinus Orca)

Piura

Los Organos

Motorized boat (yachts, artisanal fishing boats)

Rarely observed

Additional information about whale watching opportunities in Peru can be found on the following websites:


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Regulations and guidelines

Specific regulation of marine fauna observation is lacking in Peru. However, a multi-sectorial commission for marine management (COMUMA) coordinates a technical task force composed of experts, who are preparing a draft regulation document for this activity in order to reduce its impact in marine mega vertebrates. However, other protection laws for whales and dolphins exists. These include several laws and decrees that were formulated in response to public outcry over unsustainably high-directed hunts and incidental catches of dolphins in Peru’s fisheries in the 80s and 90’s decades, such as Decreto Supremo No 934-73-AG, Ley No 26585, and Decreto Supremo 002-96-PE. Both decrees prohibit the intentional capture, consumption and commercialisation of dolphins.  Resolucion Ministerial N° 588-96-PE describes the minimum legal standards for bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) husbandry in captivity in the country.

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Research on whale watching in Peru

A number of studies have been conducted on the humpback whales that come to Peru to mate and nurse their young1-3. A study conducted in 2014 found that passengers participating in whale watching tours were relatively uniformed about the presence of whales in Peru and the nature of the threats posed to whales and dolphins in the wild before participating in tours, but that the tours had the potential to inform and educate tourists and motivate them to engage in more conservation actions4.

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References

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  1. Castro, C. et al. Comparison of the humpback whale catalogues between Ecuador, Peru and American Samoa evidence of the enlargement of the breeding Stock G to Peru. (Paper presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. Tromso, Norway, 2011).
  2. Pacheco, A., Silva, S. & Alcorta, B. Winter distribution and group composition of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off northern Peru. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 7, 33-38 (2009).
  3. Guidino, C., Llapapasca, M. A., Silva, S., Alcorta, B. & Pacheco, A. S. Patterns of Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Humpback Whales at the Southern Limit of the Southeast Pacific Breeding Area. PLOS ONE 9, e112627, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112627 (2014). 
  4. García-Cegarra, A. M. & Pacheco, A. S. Whale-watching trips in Peru lead to increases in tourist knowledge, pro-conservation intentions and tourist concern for the impacts of whale-watching on humpback whales. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, n/a-n/a, doi:10.1002/aqc.2754 (2017).

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