Let me start by adding here a visual trailer https://youtu.be/1fsYmmGJhoo that Delphi just made which illustrates our big success in Sao Sebastiao. This gives us and the whales a "Proof of Concept '' that the Whale Guardians methodology works, and when scaled up can save countless great whale lives helping to stimulate their rebound from the era of commercial whaling! For me after all these years working on this project, this is indeed a very big deal.
A longer video of this celebratory day with Transpetro and Baleia Jubarte/Baleia a Vista is in the works.
NOW BACK TO WEEK 2
A ferocious tropical cyclone which is very rare off the coast of Brazil completely shifted
our week 2 experience. Rather than focus on the sea and getting to witness the true abundance of whales off the coast we were forced to remain on land as the winds pounded the coastline for 6 days in a row. So we quite literally traded whales for bellbirds, toucans, manakins, sloths, parrots, cuckoos, marmosets, huge buttressed trees, and all the miraculous Atlantic Forest could throw our way. This in no way affected our meetings with relevant port personnel and our efforts to build the needed relations to protect Brazil's whales from the many ships that traverse its coast. Also, it also allowed us to visit the forest tracts that some of these corporations have protected, rather than departing from their ports for the sea. We made the best of this, and truly it was extremely enjoyable. Brazil does not only have the Amazon, it has the amazingly diverse Atlantic Forest, home to a dizzying diversity of tree species. In some single-hectare plots (approx. 2.5 acres) over 450 tree species have been recorded! This doubles the entire number of tree species in all of Eastern North America in a small plot of land one could traverse in just a few minutes! So our images from week 2 will come as a surprise. No whales. We never had a chance to make it out to the iconic Abrolhos Islands in peak whale season, but were left to visit the Abrolhos National Park Headquarters, meet the park personnel, and look at the boat that would have taken us there, as the relentless wind tried to tear the hats off our heads. Presentations about our work were made to the Baleia Jubarte teams in Caravelas, and Praia do Forte. This team is highly coordinated and very focused on both the study and protection of Brazil's whales, and their base in Praia was particularly impressive. We also were able to visit the Sea Turtle Rescue Center of Projeto Tamar also in Praia do Forte. This center was the most impressive one for sea turtles I have ever had the pleasure to visit. A big congratulations go out to the entire team at Tamar for all they do to protect and educate the public about the Sea Turtles of Brazil's vast coastline! Our trip ended with a highly successful meeting with CODEBA, the group that controls most of the port of Salvador up in Bahia. Salvador has a very large bay and our meeting went so well that the personnel at CODEBA expressed both their approval of our project and a willingness to draw up the paperwork so they can be involved as Whale Guardians, so as to ensure the safety of the whales in the Salvador region. And the best part of it is that they also manage two other ports in strategic regions of Brazil, so that meeting has the real chance of getting three port regions to all work with us for the protection of Brazil's whales.
We left Brazil with spirits high, having made many new friends, and to be honest quite impressed with the effort many we met are putting into making things work the best they can in a nation with so many people and such a vast size. We even had serious discussions with Baleia Jubarte about running joint trips with them in their peak whale season in which our guests can see all we have seen and more, and of course without that extremely rare cyclone, many more whales. Michael
Images are of in order:
Cashew flowers in the birthplace of cashews, the EspirituSanto and Bahia coasts of Brazil
A Guira Cuckoo - They prefer to run than fly, reminding us of roadrunners
The incomparable Mt. Pescoco, we will hike to its summit base next time for sure!
A large buttressed tree (species unknown) deep in the Atlantic Forest
With the Baleia Jubarte team after my lecture in Praia do Forte
A purple-throated Euphonia near Praia
3 images of a mother and baby Maned three-toed sloth, they are endangered due to habitat (Atlantic Forest) loss
With the CODEBA team in Salvador on our last day - Great meeting with them!
An Atlantic Forest Overview