Tourists who begin to arrive at the area of the Machalilla National Park in Puerto Lopez, southwest of Manabí, have strict rules to participate in the tours of humpback whale watching.
From June to September is the season, the cetaceans arrive at the shores of Manabí for mating rites and give birth to their calves. In order to guarantee safety at sea, the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment (MAE) will carry out checks on the ships in the jetty area, said Vicente Zavala, MAE provincial director in Manabí.
The entity has 20 people among park rangers, rescuers and biologists, who will be in charge of reviewing the boats that are dedicated to the transfer of tourists to the open water sighting areas and near the Salango and La Plata islands.
In order for the reviews to be purely technical, the MAE will conduct training aimed at sailors, boat captains, naturalist of the Machalilla National Park guides and tour operators.
Among the main rules to be observed and fulfilled by tourism operators, the MAE highlights the mandatory use of the lifejacket, not throwing food waste into the sea; diving is not allowed near the whales, there can only be up to three boats at the time of a sighting; The observation will last 15 minutes maximum and should be 100 meters away from marine mammals.
Biologist Cristina Castro, who works in the study of humpback whales more than 20 years ago at the Machalilla National Park said the MAE initiative is right. According to her, regulations must be regulated and tourists must be asked to do their part to guarantee their safety.
Castro suggests to those who arrive at the sightings, that they request the services of qualified operators registered in the Machalilla National Park and the MAE. Traveling by sea is something serious, so he said you do not have to accept informality. At present in the of the Machalilla National Park there are 11 boats for sighting tours. (I)