Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 0925400
Centro de Conservación Cetacea (CCC) is a Chilean non-governmental and non-profit organization that actively and effectively works on the conservation of cetacean species and their aquatic ecosystems in Chile and the Southern Hemisphere. The Alfaguara (blue whale) Project, a key CCC project, is conducted in northwestern Isla de Chiloé, southern Chile.
Southern Chile has one of the most representative and important fjords systems in the world. Isla de Chiloé is the northern limit of the Chilean fjords ecosystem and is characterized by its great biodiversity, including the most important feeding ground for blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) known in the southern hemisphere; the highest density of the endangered marine otter (Lutra felina); the only known shared breeding site for Humboldt (Spheniscus humboldti) and Magellanic (Spheniscus magellanicus) penguins at the Islotes de Puñihuil Natural Monument; and the main colony of sea lions in Chile (Otaria flavescens). Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), sei whales (Baleanoptera borealis), southern right whales (Eubalaena australis), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and Peale's dolphins (Lagenorhynchus australis) are opportunistically seen during the fieldwork season (January to May).
However, this vital and delicate ecosystem has been subject to increasing threats during the last 20 years, such as marine pollution and habitat degradation from industrial salmon farming, coastal development, intensive industrial fishing and the accelerated expansion of maritime traffic.
The aims of the Alfaguara Project are specifically oriented to guarantee the long term protection of the blue whales, the responsible development of community based marine ecotourism and the effective conservation of the marine and coastal ecosystem of northwestern Isla de Chiloe.
After seven years, the Alfaguara Project has contributed important scientific information on the species, making it one of the best known populations of blue whales in southern hemisphere.
Unprecedented regulations for responsible marine fauna watching have been adopted, skinny blue whales and skin lesions have been identified, the most important concentration of blue whale photo identification catalogue in the southern hemisphere (+300 individuals) has been generated, an international cooperative blue whale catalogue was created and measures to avoid collisions between large vessels and blue whales are underway.
Blue whale conservation is a long term endeavor that needs to be address integrally from an ecosystem management approach and involving coastal communities on the conservation process. Appropriate management of human activities in land and ensure appropriate coastal ecosystems conservation is needed.
The Alfaguara Project is a long term project that will continue to monitor wild fauna and implement strategies to ensure the adoption of concrete conservation policies that benefits blue whales, its ecosystem and local communities.
Project 0925400 location - Chile, South America