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Orcas visit Mazatlan

This would be the eleventh sighting of this species in the area in 15 years, reported Óscar Guzón Zatarain, founder of Onca Exploraciones.

MAZATLAN. – If you believed that Mazatlán had it all, you are correct, but also every day we are surprised by what can happen and this time it is not the exception, Onca Exploraciones recorded a very particular maritime sighting, a herd of killer whales.  

It was the crew that some 7 miles from the coast were in search of cetaceans, thus finding 2 very active humpback whales on the surface, however, next to them, a pair of dark dorsal fins protruded from the sea, seconds later a large machete-shaped dorsal fin broke the surface powerfully along with three other individuals. It was a herd of killer whales, apparently on the prowl for the humpbacks.  

Photo: Courtesy Robert and Dora Mueller

Óscar Guzón Zatarain, the founder of Onca Exploraciones, explained that the humpbacks showed signs of stress, snorting as they advanced, snaking their bodies and diving laterally, minutes later the orcas continued their journey northward and the humpback whales submerged to disappear southward. .  

The boat followed the killer whales and later, the black and white ones encountered a school of owl rays. After about 20 minutes and a few unfortunate rays, the orcas resumed their course north, patrolling at a brisk pace.  

“In total we were able to register 7 killer whales in the pod, with the clear presence of an adult male (due to its tall and large dorsal fin) and the rest possible females or juveniles,” reported Óscar Guzón.  

The killer whale (Orcinus orca) is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating species in the animal kingdom and the highest predator of the seas, and although encounters throughout the entire width and length of the Mexican Pacific are common, orcas are highly mobile animals that roam great distances in a short time, so the documented encounters are somewhat rare and sporadic.  

Studying the ecology of this, the largest species of dolphin is a real challenge and requires a lot of effort. That is why opportunistic documentation of these encounters is so important and ecotourism is a great platform to achieve this.  

“Our team participated with records and photos, in a multi-institutional project whose mission is to better understand the ecology and dispersal patterns of groups of killer whales in the Mexican Pacific, the same research that has just been submitted for publication and that we hope will be accepted very soon to be able to share this knowledge with the scientific community and the world, ”he said.  

Onca Exploraciones is the pioneer company in humpback whale watching in Mazatlán and the entire state of Sinaloa, starting activities in 2006. Since then, its whale watching trips have been the platform for the first and only long-term cetacean monitoring program. in the state of Sinaloa in collaboration with the Legado Azul México collective.  

The information generated so far has allowed them to better understand the diversity of marine mammals in the state, their patterns of occurrence and distribution, as well as the necessary measures for their protection and care.  

Remember that the humpback whale watching season in Mazatlán began on December 8 and will end on March 31.  

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