Who would have thought whale watching could make such a vital socioeconomic contribution to Latin American Communities. This newly invented activity did not exist 40 years ago; it has been growing at an annual rate of 11.3 percent annually since 1998.
From May to December about a thousand of the southern right whales gather off Argentina’s Valdés Peninsula to reproduce. The curious mammals reach about 15 meters in length and weigh about 60 tons. The females of this baleen species are larger than the males, and produce one offspring at a time, every two to three years.
In terms of tourism the whale watching industry in Argentina totaled 62 million dollars in 2006, according to a study. Not to worry animal lovers, there have been a series of laws passed in order to protect these creatures from the overly excited tourists. “It’s important that it be done in a responsible way,” Roxana Schteinbarg comments of whale watching tourism, of the Buenos Aires-based Whale Conservation Institute (ICB, Institute de Conservación de Ballenas).