Biodiversity of Southwest Mexico by Land and Sea

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Biodiversity of Southwest Mexico by Land and Sea

Natural History Expedition  •  Barra de Potosí  •  February 16-24 & March 6-14, 2015

Help Biologists Conduct Critical Conservation Research

Oceanic Society invites you on an expedition to beautiful Barra de Potosí, just south of Zihuatanejo, Mexico. 

This region hosts a wealth of marine and terrestrial species and is an important part of the migration route for the 

northeastern Pacific population of humpback whales. While the presence of whales has been documented in the 

area for years, there have been no formal studies of them until now.

As a participant on this expedition you will have the chance to help scientists better understand this important 

whale population by working in the field as a citizen scientist with the Whales of Guerrero Research Project. For 

3-4 days, visitors will work alongside American and Mexican scientists and local fishermen to spot, identify, and 

make scientific observations of humpback whales and any of four species of dolphins found in the area. We also 

frequently observe olive ridley sea turtles, manta rays, golden cow nosed and spotted eagle rays, red-billed tropic 

birds, frigate birds, and countless other noteworthy marine species. In addition to learning humpback whale fluke 

identification and hydro-acoustic recording techniques, you will also assist with recording other key ecosystem 

data. Our citizen scientists come away with a wealth of knowledge about humpback whale behavior and biology 

and the unique experience of being a part of a truly pioneering project.

Explore the Flora and Fauna of One of Mexico’s Best Hidden Treasures

On this biodiversity-focused tour, you will spend a day in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo with a local naturalist guide, 

along with some visiting experts on regional wildlife. Our local guides all have an extensive intimate knowledge 

of regional fauna and flora. You will explore nature reserves in Ixtapa by land and kayak, see crocodiles, and 

have opportunities to snorkel around Isla Ixtapa. The mangrove-filled lagoon directly behind the village of Barra 

de Potosí serves as a nursery for hundreds of species of fish and birds including roseate spoonbills, boobies, 

white  pelicans,  herons,  and  egrets.  We  will  explore  the  lagoon  in  a  panga  and  you  will  have  opportunities  to 

independently explore the lagoon in kayaks throughout the week.

As a traveler on this tour you will also be invited to join guest scientists and interns on a science walk on the 

beach and through the jungle to see the world through a biologist’s eyes. We will explore an exceptional variety of 

ecosystems by visiting all eight biomes, or microclimates, that are found within a 75 square mile radius of Barra 

de Potosí. You will also be invited to attend a night tour of a lagoon where crocodiles are commonly seen. We will 

also make a trip to Valentin Lagoon, a gorgeous freshwater lagoon about 15 miles from town.

To help you get the most out of the experience and tailor it to your particular interests, we offer several add-on 

activities at an additional cost through our local partners. For example, you can go horseback riding through the 

jungle to a 20-mile beach known as “turtle beach,” for the thousands of turtle eggs that are laid there each year. 

Or, you can enjoy a kayak tour on the lagoon with a trained naturalist. For surfers, our guides can clue you into our 

local secret spots; board and wetsuit rentals are available, as well as local instructors for beginners.

In between field research trips and other activities, you can relax in the pool or take a siesta in a hammock. If 

turtles hatch during the week, you will be invited to visit the nearby Ayotcalli Field Camp, which protects turtle 

eggs and shepherds newborn turtles to the sea. Certified SCUBA divers (additional cost) and snorkelers will have 

the opportunity to dive with a biologist or trained naturalist in one of our local hot spots to observe marine wildlife. 

Oceanic Society


Call Oceanic Society today at (415) 256-9604 or email us at to reserve a space.   

Meet Our Team 

Katherina Audley is the founder and director of the Whales of Guerrero Research Project. Fifteen 

years of marine mammal studies have brought her up close to whales, dolphins and pinnipeds 

in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina and New Zealand. 

Katherina has worked in Bahia de Potosí for the past 16 years and has maintained meaningful 

relationships in both local and expat communities in the region.

Pablo Mendizábal is the founder of the Municipal Institute of Zihuatanejo Ecology and owns a local 

ecotourism outfit in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo that provides informative tours for travelers interested in 

local biodiversity. Pablo was born and raised in Zihuatanejo and has an intimate scientific and 

experiential knowledge of the regional fauna and flora. Pablo has been instrumental in bringing 

together local communities to help conservationists generate awareness about migrating whales 

in the region.

Denise King, M.S. has studied and taught subjects ranging from botany and ecology to marine 

biology, microbiology, and evolution. Prior to setting anchor at the Exploratorium in San Francisco 

as a senior exhibit developer in 2001, Denise worked as a field biologist and a lecturer at SF State. 

King first visited the Bahia de Potosí region in 1999 and will be returning as a guest scientist and 


Day 1: Arrive to Barra de Potosí (D)


Arrive at Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa airport where you 

will be picked up and brought to your hotel.  

Enjoy a welcome dinner with the project team.

Days 2-5: Whale Monitoring and Research (B,L)

We will spend most of the day out on the 

water monitoring humpbacks whales and 

dolphins and seeing other bay wildlife. 

Day 6: Play Day (B,L)


A day to explore the area 

and participate in other activities such as 

horseback riding, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, 

or simply relaxing in a hammock.* 

Day 7: Crocodiles, Birds and Sea Turtles (B,L)


We will travel to Ixtapa and spend the day 

having a close look at the area’s crocodiles, 

birds, sea turtles and other fauna of interest. 

Day 8: Encounter Eight Ecosystems in a Day 


A biologist will guide us on an extensive 

whirlwind tour of Barra de Potosí’s diverse 

ecosystems.  Special goodbye dinner in the 

village or on the beach.

Day 9: Depart Barra de Potosi (B) 

You will be dropped off at the Zihuatanejo/

Ixtapa airport and make your way home or to 

your next destination.


Some of these activities may incur an 

additional expense

Program Rates










LOCAL PARTNERS: Whales of Guerrero 



program by expert local guides • All 

accommodations and meals as specified 

in the itinerary • Local transportation 

to and from airport • All excursions 

• Complete packet of pre-departure 




U.S. domestic and international airfare 

• Passport and visa fees • Medical 

expenses and immunizations • Trip 

cancellation/interruption and baggage 

insurance • Optional excursions or 

deviations from the scheduled tour • 

Excess-baggage charges • Meals not 

specified in the itinerary; dishes and 

beverages not part of the included meals 

• Alcohol or soft drinks except where 

indicated as included • Private transfers 

or transfers not on program arrival and 

departure days • Personal items such 

as room service; email, telephone, and 

fax charges; laundry; gratuities for non-

group services; and other items of a 

personal nature

Interact With Local Communities

You will also have the opportunity to participate in our outreach and education efforts by assisting 

with  informational  workshops  at  local  libraries  and  schools,  where  children  are  learning  about 

marine biology and the importance of biodiversity and have become extremely interested in the 

humpback whales that return to their local waters each year.



Our guests will stay in a local Guest House with comfortable rooms surrounded by tall coconut 

palm trees and verdant tropical gardens. Each room has a shaded porch area, table and chairs. 

All rooms have ceiling fans and mini-fridges. The design of the rooms makes use of natural light 

sources and refreshing tropical breezes. Daily maid service is provided.

Whales of Guerrero 

Research Project

This project was founded in 2013 with 

the mission of using scientific research 

and effective community outreach 

strategies to provide local fishermen and 

boat operators with a means to survive 

without depleting local natural resources, 

and to promote the unique region of 

Potosi as a place worth protecting and 

visiting. Our immediate scientific goals 

are to conduct a study of the humpback 

whale population in order to establish 

a population count, contribute to the 

Regional Fluke Identification Catalog, 

record vocalizations, cow/calf pairs, 

behaviors and movement patterns 

around the bay.

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