whale conservation

general overview

The Humpback Whales – Ecuador project focuses on knowing the demography, population, behavior, and social grouping of the humpback whales that migrate each year between mid-June till mid-October to the Machalilla National Park, off the coast of Puerto López.

Gaining experience in field research with cetaceans is not easy. In general, whales and dolphins are difficult to study in the wild and natural state. There are few places in the world where you can find a great concentration and abundance of certain species of whales and dolphins. This is your opportunity to assist in the field, where you will watch the whales, learn from specialists and help and support research and conservation projects of other marine mammals in Ecuador.

Title Address Description
Puerto Lopez ecuador

Puerto Lopez


wildlife conservation




whales foundation 
In puerto lopez, ecuador

The marine area in front of Puerto López is a mating and reproduction area for humpback whales, which travel every year from Antarctica to Ecuador. There is an estimated 6,000 South Pacific humpback whales population. In addition, it is common to find around the marine area of Isla de la Plata other species of marine mammals such as bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, killer whales, tropical whales among other fifteen more registered species.
The research is carried out in whale watching boats that are used for research and in research boats, for sampling and recording of whale songs. In Ecuador we have a catalog of more than 3,000 humpback whales photo identified by tail patterns. All researchers will take photographs and identify the whales observed in our research center located in Puerto López, Manabí, Ecuador.

Volunteering for this project is possible between the months of June through October. You do not need previous experience, or any university degree to participate in volunteering. You only need love for the sea, whales and nature; enthusiasm to meet new places and people; daily strength and energy; desire to learn and work long hours at sea and in the office.

What is included?

    • Project donation
    • Orientation meeting
    • Local support volunteer coordinator
    • 6 nights accommodation in dorms – the accommodation is located walking distance from the project
    • Breakfast and welcome dinner
    • 4 hours of Spanish classes
    • 4 whale watching trips and 1 day to analyze the recollected information.

What is NOT included?

  • Pre and post stay in Guayaquil
  • Medical insurance (mandatory to confirm the reservation).
  • Transport to the project

What to consider…

  • Projects starts and ends on Mondays.
  • Available from mid-June to mid-October
  • Longer stays are possible
  • Private room upon request
  • Poor wiFi
  • Work can be physically demanding
  • Maximum of 10 volunteers


Some examples of the activities:
• Introduction to the research team, orientation, and methodology
• Field research of whales and the Pacific Ocean
• Data Analysis: results and conclusions
• Lectures on biology and conservation cetaceans


A typical day starts in the morning between 7 and 9 am. On the first day, you will head to the center with a project representative. This is located about 20 minutes away (walking distance). Moving around in Puerto Lopez is easy, but if you need any help on the following days, you can chat with your coordinator who will gladly help you.

Once you arrive at the project, you will have a briefing by the Foundation Director. During your stay at the project, you will be involved in two different types of tasks. The ones while on a whale watching vessel, and the ones done at the center. All days are different and organized on spot considering the daily needs and weather conditions.

You will be trained in security on the boat and also in research techniques, including behavioral, demographical, biopsies, and acoustic data collection, as well as photo identification.

The first days you will spend 1 to 2 hours in data collection training sessions or prepare materials, equipment before departing to the pier.
There are different research trips with different routes and durations. Once at the pier you will go on a 2-3 hour whale watching trip and will have 1 to 2 hours upon return to have lunch and rest. In the afternoon hours, there will bedata analysis sessions using the pictures and data collected on that day. Depending on the day, instead of data analysis, we will be working on the photo-identification catalogs or on other activities. This data is analyzed in the center and shared with the staff.

Tasks are expected to be finished by 5 or 6 pm and you have the rest of the day to spend on your own. You will have one free day per week, but this is not always during weekends.


There many things to do around Puerto Lopez.

You can visit Los Frailes; probably the most beautiful beach in Continental Ecuador. Soft sand and the turquioise ocean come together to let you relax and soak up the sun. This is a part of a national park, so make sure you get there early, as there’s a limited amount of visitors allowed per day.

Isla de la Plata; Known as the little Galapagos, this small island off the coast of Manabí province, will let you have a close encounter with several wildlife species like turtles, sea lions and blue-footed boobies.

Visit the community of Agua Blanca; a community tourism project run by 86 families who developed different experiences to offer, such as a sulfur lagoon, a spa, an ancestral cuisine restaurant, etc.


The volunteer accommodation is in a hostel close to the beach in Puerto López with shared rooms (same gender). There are up to 4 persons per room. Ingredients for breakfast are included; you can use the kitchen and cook by yourself. Internet connection is available.

The property is surrounded by a 3.000 m2 garden. There is a swimming pool and a games area.

about Puerto Lopez

The coastal region of Ecuador offers a wide variety of options for you to enjoy. From secluded and secret beaches where you’ll be alone to wonder in their beauty, to cities where life is fast and you have the comfort of luxury hotels and modern commodities.

Guayaquil, the countries’ main port, is a example of a coastal metropoli, and although the citie’s main focus isn’t tourism, it still has several spots worthy of visit and food you won’t regret tasting.
Manabí offers some of the most beautiful beaches and beach towns to explore and also various natural reserves which should be a must in every traveler’s bucket list. For example Isla de la Plata, an island close to Puerto López, is widely known for its beauty and endemic wildlife.

In mangrove towns you’ll find the freshest seafood you have ever tasted, and you’ll even see some of the dishes being prepared right in front of you, while you just feel your mouth watering from the wait.

more experiences in Ecuador

Looking for more inspiration? Have a look at the experiences below:


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