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Tuesday, March 26 2019 @ 11:58 AM UTC

Whales Come All The Way To Panama To Give Birth

Environmental Issues"I created the first version of the whale watching map in the world at an Internet Cafe. I grabbed a map and since I knew about the areas for whale watching in Panama, I came up with the idea of drawing a "tail" in these areas. This first map was published in 2003 and it was the first version in the world," explained Gabriel Despaigne, president of the Green Association of Panama.

According to the ecologist, in 2002 they created a strategy to remove Panama from their alignment with countries dedicated to hunting whales, in order to turn it into a conservationist country. Three important points were established: Removing Panama from their alignment with Japan, manage to declare Panamanian waters as a Whale Sanctuary and promoting whales as a flagship species for environmental protection. For this, they had to promote whale watching. “By promoting whale watching we can raise awareness among the population to preserve the species and also boost economy in coastal and marine populations who suffer from extreme poverty,” said Despaigne.

Whale watching receives approximately $2 million per year in the world and it has a 12% growth, which is why it is important that the world knows that Panama supports the activity with a map.

However, there is a lot to do, according to the researcher, and said they haven’t managed to make the Government (at least this administration) promote the final stages to finish this map.

“We are trying to receive the support for the marine corridor in Panama for the protection of marine mammals in our next meeting on September 2. We need the support from the Authority of Aquatic Resources in Panama, the National Environment Authority and other government institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is related to the International Whaling Commission.”

The important thing is to “gather efforts to complete the different stages of the map so Panama can promote international stages of this map.”


You can say that “whales are Panamanian,” because they come to the warm waters of our country to give birth to their offspring. “They are born without a fat layer necessary to stand cold temperatures in polar waters. They would die from cold if they are born there,” he said.

Whales travel from polar areas to Panama to give birth and breastfeed for 8 or 9 months, which is the time it takes for them to develop this fat layer, and then they go back to polar waters.

“Panama waters are an important part in the development of whales because they give birth here, they teach them how to swim and they also mate.” Studies from the Smithsonian have proved a genetic Exchange between the whales from the north and the south in Panama, because whales come together with their partner.


Water pollution, together with climate change, are one of the threats that might affect the areas where these mammals reproduce, besides the impact caused by the navigation of the ships that go through the Panama Canal. In this sense, the Smithsonian is working with the Panama Canal Authority to define navigation routes with the purpose of creating conditions and inform these ships about the speed they must travel at to avoid going through areas where the whales are located. (Estrella)

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