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“Interning with Whale Shark Mexico is an experience I would recommend to all students and early career scientists seeking to work in the world of marine conservation! – Jane Vinesky

Our internship program was made with the goal to offer the best whale shark experience for our interns! You will experience the whale shark and their habitat which is amazing! La Paz Bay is part of the Sea of Cortez and was named the aquarium of the world by Jacques Cousteau. During the 12 weeks our interns are trained into the research and become part of ourteam!

The internship program has designed to have a lot of field work experience, you will learn how to collect data as photo-ID, gender, size, record injuries and environmental data as water temperature, visibility, wind and cloudy. We also use drones and whale shark photographers (we place cameras on them) for behavior studies.

Our program also have a lot of work on the computer to build the photo-ID catalogue for the season and compare with the other 13 years and the other 6 localities that we work with!  And submit it into the global data base. Also you will do the injuries data base and to be part of our educational project.

All data that we collected help into the Whale Shark conservation and management on the region.

You will received scientific train and presentations.

DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival into La Paz International Airport. One or two team member will give you a welcome and a little tour for the city (Malecón, supermarket, laundry, organic market) is easy to move on bike and we´ll provide you one!

Day 2: Project work begins! You’ll have a talk about biology, importance, research work, rules and all the techniques that we´ll be using during the program.

Day 3: Depending on the weather conditions, we will go out to sea to meet the whale sharks! The first time you will only enjoy the experience! We need to know how do you feel in the water and swimming with the sharks, also we want that you know how we do the monitoring work and become familiar with the equipment. Once that you feel ready the real work start!

Next days: Dedicate your time to the field work, you will acquire the ability to take underwater photos of the shark to be able to identify them, measure the sharks and check the gender, after that we go back to office and upload the pictures an all the information to our database. You´ll learn how to use the software to identify the sharks

Weekend: You can have a free day to expend time traveling around the city, you can go and snorkel at the sea lion colony at Espiritu Santo Island or maybe go to dive to some of the amazing reef that we have in the area or even go to Cabo Pulmo, a marine reserve (3 hrs from La Paz), probably some hiking, paddleborading on the bay, visit the beach, bike around the malecón looking the sunset or just spend the day watching Netflix

Next weeks: The fieldwork will be combinated with deskwork, all depend on the weather conditions, but its all about PULIR ypur habilities.

Plus: For some months it is possible to monitor whale sharks in Bahía Concepción, located 500 km north of La Paz. In that case it is possible to make an airplane survey on board Cessna Skylane!

Final day: Leave La Paz with a lot of knowledge and amazing experiences!

PROJECT FACTS

Whale shark Monitoring Program 2019/2020

Location: Baja California Sur, Mexico

Duration: Depending on programs (1 month – 12 weeks)

What will you learn as a volunteer?

Photo identification survey methods of whale sharks, community outreach and environmental education regarding whale sharks in Mexico, up to date and modern scientific monitoring of the a marine species (genetic sampling, scar analysis etc), environmental monitoring (sea conditions, factor influencing abundance, profiling), camera techniques, problem solving skills, communication skills, real life experience of how a whale shark monitoring program works and produces research with set goals, and so much more…

What is included in the project cost?

Pick up on arrival to Mexico, accommodation for the duration of the chosen monitoring program, a comprehensive series of lectures given by Dr. Ramírez & the scientific team covering all aspects of whale shark conservation (biology, scientific research, photo identification, stereo photogrammetry, behavior (using drone and underwater camera on shark’s fin) species threats and conservation management), training in scientific monitoring, spotter plane expenses (at Espiritu Santo Island), boat expenses and private captain, experience in marine conservation which can be used to aid in developing your career in conservation or used as possible points for university courses and a bike for your transport in town.

What is expected of a volunteer during the program?

Our Whale shark volunteer program requires a full time commitment from our volunteers. Your involvement with the program will require appox. 8 hours a day, six days a week. Volunteers should also expect to be involved with out of hours events and should be willing to lend a hand wherever necessary. Volunteers at all times must respect local cultures and remember that they represent Whale shark Mexico during their involment. During the course of the program volunteers will not be able to seek external employment.

Program dates & Cost:

Our Whale shark monitoring programs are scheduled throughout the year and duration is dependent on the intensity of the research agenda. The monitoring programs between May and June focus directly on the mature population of pregnant females in Mexican waters, which aggregate around Espiritu Santo Island (La Paz) & Los Cabos one of only two places globally where these mature sharks are seen. These intensive monitoring programs are designed for the more physically hardened individual who enjoys volunteering and is willing to push them self to the highest level of scientific research.

Internship opportunities are available from January through till March and from October to December offer a more comprehensive long-term volunteer experience, predominantly monitoring the juvenile population of sharks around La Paz area. This internship is ideal for the first time volunteer that wishes to gain valuable experience in the field and a foundation to marine conservation in a working organization. Alternatively, we offer shorter volunteer opportunities throughout the year, which can be adjusted to suit personal availability and dependent on availability during the time of interest.

A full Price list & dates for all whale shark monitoring programs for October 2019-June 2020 are presented in the table below:

Program DatesLocationProgram LengthCost
Sep 28 – Dec 21La Paz12 weeks$3000 USD
Jan 04 – March 28La Paz12 weeks$3000 USD
April 25 – June 24La Paz / Los Cabos2 months$3360 USD
One monthLa Paz1 month$1500 USD
Two monthsLa Paz2 months$2300 USD
One weekLa Paz1 week$500 USD
Two weeksLa Paz2 weeks$900 USD
Tree weeksLa Paz3 weeks$1200 USD

What is NOT included in the cost of the project?

  • Flights & Insurance
  • Food
  • Leisure activities on days off

Eligibility:

Minimum age: 18.

Maximum age: no maximum age, but all volunteers must be physically fit enough to carry out all activities.

Participants must be motivated and enthusiastic about conservation of the natural environment, passionate about the ocean and should have an interest in biological studies.

Preferably with relevant experience and/or studying marine biology, conservation, environmental studies or related field, but not essential.

Ability to work in tropical conditions; hot and humid climate with mosquitos and sand flies.

Must be a confident swimmer with capable snorkeling ability.

Comfortable at sea and working on boats. No experience necessary but if you suffer from extreme sea sickness maybe this is not the right project for you.

Interpersonal skills, initiative, enthusiasm and the ability to work within a team are essential.

Personal insurance. All volunteers must have their own insurance, and documented evidence must be provided to Whale shark Mexico prior to volunteer arrival.

How to apply?

If you are looking for a unique opportunity and think you have what it takes to volunteer at the Whale Shark Mexico please email your CV along with a brief covering letter (no more than one A4 side) describing your motivations for applying to info@whalesharkmexico.com

Note: Please specify the program and dates you are applying for as there is limited availability to certain programs.

We are the environment; make a change today, volunteer!

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