The Whale Heritage Site application includes the Peninsula Valdes coastline, the San Jose and Nuevo Gulfs. Located in Chubut Province, Argentina, the area is important for Southern Right Whale, Dusky Dolphin, Orca, and occasionally other species of dolphin and whale (i.e., Bottlenose Dolphin, Humpback Whale). Peninsula Valdes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated for its unique attributes as a marine mammal breeding and calving ground, especially for the once endangered Southern Right Whale.
Location and Species
The six companies operating in Puerto Piramides exemplify community-based management of this cetacean population, demonstrating respect for the cetaceans and each other in day to day operations while striving to improve the sustainability of the site. Local rules and regulations help ensure the best possible practices and that the whale watching companies remain in control of locals, rather than foreign entities.
Whale watching is operated by six local companies and regulated by local government authorities. Whale watching can only occur out of Puerto Piramides, but whales are visible from the shore throughout Peninsula Valdes and the nearby town Puerto Madryn. Locals often drink with friends while watching whales from their cars or the beach.
There is a celebration at the beginning of the whale watching season each year and on the day of the whale in September, to commemorate an event where locals rescued a stranded Right Whale.
Two companies operate specific dolphin-watching trips in the summer months. Scuba diving, snorkeling, or swimming with cetaceans is prohibited. Kayaking trips to view cetaceans are allowed under restricted circumstances. Sometimes, individuals accidentally come in contact with these curious cetaceans while scuba diving, kayaking, or snorkeling, but this is regarded as a rare and special event where the cetaceans explicitly approach humans and want to interact.