Humpback whale watching in Samana, Dominican Republic is unique

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources officially launched the humpback whale watching season (Megaptera Novaeangliae) 2022, with the signing of an inter-institutional agreement that will ensure the proper development of this season and propose improvements to the management of La Plata and La Navidad Banks, as well as Samaná Bay, in order to safeguard human life and ensure the conservation and protection of the sanctuary and the species.

The marine mammal observation season, which has been baptized this year as: “A dance that perpetuates the species”, will be extended from this Saturday, January 15 until Thursday, March 31, for Samaná Bay and until Friday, April 15 for the La Plata Bank in Puerto Plata.

As last year, the Environment has ordered that the observation season be carried out under a strict sanitary protocol to avoid the spread of Covid-19 and its variants.

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The signing of the Marine Mammal Observation Management Agreement 2022 was signed by the Minister of the Environment, Orlando Jorge Mera; the Ministry of Tourism; the vice admiral of the Navy, Ramón Gustavo Betances; the mayor of Santa Bárbara de Samaná, Nelson Antonio Núñez.

Patricia Lamelas, executive director of the Center for the Conservation and Ecodevelopment of the Bay of Samaná and its Environment (CEBSE); Felicita Heredia, vice-president of the Dominican Foundation for Marine Studies (FUNDEMAR); Augusto González, president of the Association of Boat Owners of the Bay of Samaná (ASDUBAHISA); Oswaldo Emiddio Vásquez Ravelo, president of Asesoría Ambiental y Tecnología Marítima (ATEMAR, S. A.); Lorenzo Antonio Martínez Esquea, representative of the Boat Owners at the Banco de la Plata.

“This year with the humpback whale visitation day, the Dominican Republic dresses up again and we hope to count on the participation of Dominicans and tourists who can take advantage of this magnificent opportunity to see the humpback whales that come to mate here in this area”, said Orlando Jorge Mera.

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Banks of La Plata and La Navidad
With this agreement, the Management Committee of the Marine Mammal Sanctuary Bancos de La Plata y La Navidad is formed for an observation season where sustainable management instruments are used to guarantee the physical integrity of the whales and visitors.

All people who wish to participate in this humpback whale watching season may do so from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The sanitary measures that the Ministry of Environment has instructed to continue are the recurrent disinfection of all boats. In addition to having signs allegorical to the health protocol to prevent the spread of covid-19.

Also, the vessels must abide by the provisions of the Dominican Armed Forces regarding the capacity of people who may travel, following the guidelines of the Ministry of Health to maintain the physical distance.

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Similarly, each of the captains of these boats must provide visitors with disinfectant gel, take the temperature and ensure the use of masks.

The boats operating in the observation zones must also have a communication radio and when the boats are less than 30 feet in length, all passengers must have their life jackets on.

Humpback whale watching season begins 2022
Samana Bay
Another of the points established to safeguard the life of these mammals is that all vessels must monitor and control compliance with the Regulations established for the Observation of Marine Mammals of the Banks of La Plata and La Navidad and in the Bay of Samaná, contained in the Management Plan of the Sanctuary of Marine Mammals of the Banks of La Plata and La Navidad.

During this whale watching season, no unnecessary engine noise, smoke, or honking of horns is allowed for all vessels navigating within the sanctuary.

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