Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adventure Antigua goes to Panama's Whale Watching Conference.

one whale

Adventure Antigua goes to Panama's Whale Watching Conference, but with a slight change of plans. As mentioned a few weeks ago in this blog, I was nominated to attend a special United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Anyway, my ticket was sent and I booked to go until yesterday, when I had some news that prevents me from leaving Antigua. Sadly I will miss the trip, but missing it for something even more important here makes it easier not to attend.
I knew that this was a very important meeting for tour operators and more importantly for environmentalists. Adventure Antigua prides itself on being both.
When I made the decision to cancel my flight yesterday I knew I had to get someone else to attend, and the first person who came to mind was our main Eco Tour guide Nicola Nash. Read a little about her here.

I think it's funny that the title on that blog from back in January was Adventure Antigua's Other Eco Ambassador. Since writing that piece she has taken a very active roll in the Antigua Sea Turtle Project which is managed by my wife and is always willing and eager to be involved with anything eco. Of course she loves seeing whales and dolphins and whenever she sees them she tells everyone. As you would expect, my ticket was non refundable and non transferable so Adventure Antigua had to pay for the ticket last night. WOW going last minute from Antigua to Panama City isn't cheap!! Worth it I am sure though. As someone who has studied marine biology, she was and is the perfect replacement for me at this conference which as their first emails explains will help us (and whales) here in Antigua and the Caribbean:

......is a first attempt to bring together marine resource operators and managers from the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR). It will include 4 days of hands-on training and discussions in order to:
Discuss the formulation of an overarching code of conduct for observing marine mammals in the WCR;
Assess the extent of problems and needs, and identify opportunities for improvement of existing marine mammal watching operations; Identify new areas that might support marine mammal watching activities; Document existing marine mammal educational materials; and
Standardize data collection forms used by operators.

and ....... to facilitate the conservation of marine mammals and contribute to the Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals in the Wider Caribbean. 

I hope to be in close contact with Nicola and will make sure that the media and other tour operators get a very good briefing once she returns. We are lucky here in Antigua and Barbuda to have beautiful humpback whales passing through between January and May. In the past year while out boating we have also seen many other marine mammals including Bottlenose Dolphins, a Blainvilles Beaked Whale, Spinner Dolphins, Pilot Whales, and others that were not close enough to ID. I am happy that we can learn more from this important event and hopefully we will be able to enlighten many here on the island too.