Professional Development
Research Expeditions
Mingan Island Cetacean Study
And Optional College Credit from
WhaleNet/Wheelock College
Boston, MA

Sea of Cortez Program

The Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) has been conducting research on the baleen whales found in the Sea of Cortez since 1983, with particular emphasis on the blue whale.

Blue whales feed and may give birth in the warm waters off the Baja Peninsula. As a complement to our work done in the St. Lawrence during the summer and autumn, we spend four weeks in Baja collecting data on the blues of the northeast Pacific. We have photo-identified over 300 individuals in the Sea of Cortez, and have observed adults and calves feeding, speed-swimming, interacting, and breaching.

College Credit: Graduate credit is available through Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts. You would have to contact Professor Michael Williamson and register with the Graduate School for ED 654: Field Study in Marine Science. The cost of tuition for this course is $600.00 in addition to the MICS session cost. To receive credit you must: (1) complete prereadings, (2) participate in one of the sessions, and (3) complete a final product which consists of either developing a teaching unit based on your readings and activities, writing a paper, or writing and submitting an article to a professional publication.

Daily activities: you will assist researchers with observations of ceteceans in their natural habitat. Group size is kept to a minimum (no more than six people each week) fostering a closer bond between participants and researchers.

Sightings: because the Sea of Cortez is a possible breeding area, observations of females with their offspring are not uncommon. In addition, the Sea of Cortez is an important feeding area due to its great productivity and is one of the best places to observe blue whales surface feeding.

Observations of bottlenose and saddle-backed dolphins are common, as are sightings of Bryde's and finback whales. Sightings of humpback whales and orca are not uncommon. Loreto is near to some spectacular wildlife, and birders can have as much fun observing feathered friends as they do the largest of mammals. Boobies, pelicans, and myriad shore birds abound (binoculars are a must on this trip).

Location: we are based in Loreto throughout our stay .

Boats: we work from 22ft open fiberglass outboards.

Guides: MICS provides whale researcher/naturalist guides on a daily basis whether at sea or on land.

Lodging: 7 nights at a good and friendly hotel located in Loreto with a full view on the sea and a pool.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch are eaten at sea, while the evening meal is at one of the local restaurants, which serve very good seafood and, of course, Mexican food.

Weather contingency plans: if weather does not permit us to work, there are many alternative activities: snorkeling, walking the beach, island hopping, the ever-popular shopping/eating combination, and birding. There are three "windy days options" your guides can organize for you.

Option 1: travel 2:30 hours by car to Magdelena Bay and go to see grey whale cows and their nursing calves in the calm protected water of the lagoon; with only females and babies nursing in the bay very close non-motorised boat approaches are likely.

Option 2: easy to moderate hike (4 hours) through a wet canyon. The canyon hike begins at an old mission site and features spectacular mountain scenary and extremely varied desert vegetation; participants will enjoy a walk through a 300 year old fruit orchards; picnic lunch at crystal clear natural fresh water pool.

Option 3: one hour drive to the beaches of Bahia Conception; in this area there are dozens of pristine white sand beaches of all shapes and sizes. Relaxing swimming and snorkeling.

SCHEDULES: our 1997 programs run from February 22 until March 28. Sessions usually begin at 06:00am of Day 1 and end the morning of your departure on Day 8.

RATES: one week (a full 7night/days) costs $1,295US ($165 per day for any additional days) and includes all of the above but do not include air transportation and airport transfer fees. Tuition for Graduate Credit through Wheelock College is an additional $600.00

We recommend arrival the day or evening before the session begins (an extra $40.00 US for that night, including dinner / $60 for a couple).


Weather conditions: though the daily temperatures reach 80F, the mornings and evenings can be cool, which is typical of a desert climate. We recommend a thin pile jacket or sweater and wind jacket and pants. It is vital that participants protect themselves adequately from the sun through the use of hat, sun glasses, long-sleeved shirts and sun block. A full day on the Sea of Cortez in an open boat without proper protection is an open invitation to severe skin burn.

Tips on air transportation: AeroCalifornia offers two departures daily leaving L.A at 11:10 and 4:55pm and arriving in Loreto at 2pm and 7:45pm; returns to L.A are also daily, leaving Loreto at 2:25pm and 8:10pm and arriving in L.A at 3:15pm and 9pm. It may be less expensive through Mexico. Ask your travel agent for more details.


Other MICS Research Expeditions

Programs and administration:

new email:
tel: (514) 948-3669
fax: (514) 948-1131

Research: e:mail or phone 514.949.2845
You can write to MICS 285 Green St., St-Lambert, Qc. Canada, J4P 1T3