Bottlenose Dolphin Research Project



Bottlenose Dolphin Research Project

Throughout the year common bottlenose dolphins are present across the bay of La Paz, with some resident pods and some transient. Stationed at our basecamp on Isla Espiritu Santo, we will conduct daily boat-based photo-ID surveys of the bottlenose dolphins to determine individuals within pods, abundance and distribution of the pods and the population as a whole within the bay. Each trip will run for 14-days of the month, year-round, consisting of daily surveys, some data organization, and the opportunity to experience some of the other incredible nature and wildlife encounters of Baja California Sur. There is opportunity to stay for multiple survey trips during the Gray Whale season, and the potential to use some of the data for theses (upon discussion).

This project offers a great opportunity to access a unique area with exceptional marine wildlife, working with the community who share their local expertise, so that we may broaden our understanding of the dolphins that we share the waters with.

Whether you are someone who is working towards a career in marine biology, or a nature enthusiast keen to experience research first hand, this project provides a thoroughly enjoyable educational experience for everyone.

Data Collection

The data collection will involve:

Field Data:

  • Photo Identification
  • GPS data
  • Environmental data
  • Behavioural observations
  • Grouping observations

Land-based Work:

  • Organising photos to identify individuals
  • Organise trip data into excel
  • Download GPS data

Volunteer Requirements

  • All ages welcome, though under 16s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Conversational Spanish/English
  • Able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Comfortable living in remote campsite with extremely limited facilities
  • Passionate about nature, marine ecosystems, research and conservation

Research Area

The peninsula of Baja California Sur is a biodiversity hotspot, home to an incredible array of marine mega fauna, including many species of sharks, rays, sea turtles, and marine mammals. The geology of the region results in tidal mixing and upwelling, making it a highly productive area and a hub for many migratory and non-migratory species. The presence of dolphins in the area is an important indicator of the health of the marine environment, which is so important to the local community, whether it be for fishing, ecotourism or other. The research area will be divided into three survey zones that span from La Paz, up to the southern part of Isla San Jose, and along the coast of the peninsula.

Costs & Dates

Surveys expeditions will run from the 2nd Sunday of each month for 14 days, each month of the year. Volunteers are welcome to join more than one survey. If you are interested in joining for several surveys, please send us your CV and cover letter and we would be very happy to discuss the options.

US $3,260.00 for the 14 days


We will provide you with:

  • Introductory lectures to the area, the species and the project
  • Training in data collection, data organization and uses of data
  • Excursion in La Paz to the whale sharks and the sea lion rookery (when in season) (out of season, we will incorporate other excursions)
  • Return transport from La Paz to Espiritu Santo island, San Jose island and the basecamp
  • All meals, snacks, refreshments and drinks from breakfast on day two, through lunch on day thirteen
  • Accommodation in La Paz and at the basecamp
  • Snorkeling, kayaking and SUP equipment
  • Captained boat for daily surveys, survey materials (excluding SLR camera)

Not Included

You will need to cover your own:

  • Travel to La Paz
  • Insurance
  • SLR camera with long lens for surveys

Life in The Field

Before settling into the basecamp, you will be given introductory lectures and briefed on the plan for your 14 day stay with us. We will spend the mornings on survey to collect the data from the skiff, and spend time in the afternoon to organise and analyse the data. The survey area will be divided into 3 zones, each of which will be surveyed for 3 days. There may be the opportunity for volunteers to use the data for theses, upon discussion. You will also have time each day to enjoy the island recreationally, hiking, kayaking and with SUPs, as well as the chance to visit the California Sea Lion rookery at Los Islotes, and snorkel with the whale sharks (within their seasons)!

Accommodation & Facilities

Our research basecamps will be set up on a beach of San José island and Espiritu Santo island, where your tent and sleeping equipment will be provided for. There will be a simple and well stocked kitchen area where we will be able to prepare our group meals 3 times a day, with snacks, water and other refreshments provided for the daily boat trips. As a Natural Protected Area, we will set up the campsite and our routine so that we will not impact the local environment.

Our Team

Jose Juan Puebla, director of Eco Migrations, first arrived in La Paz from Mexico City to study Marine Biology at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur (UABCS), and once graduated started working as a whale watching and sea kayaking guide and dive master in the area. He has also worked on several marine mammal research projects around the world, and is experienced as a marine mammal observer. He then went on to set up Eco Migrations, with the aim of combining both the enjoyment of the locality through tourism with research using the tourism facilities.

Emer McCoy, a zoologist from London, began working within marine biology in 2013 after graduating. Before joining Eco Migrations, her work primarily focussed on whale shark research, running research projects for an NGO. Emer joined Eco Migrations in 2018 to develop the research projects with Jose Juan.

Erin Francke joined the team in 2017, when she moved to La Paz from Mexico City. She studied economics in an act of teenage rebellion, but is the daughter of biologists and nature has always been her passion. Erin did Peace Corps in Senegal from 2007-2009, earned a graduate degree from Cambridge University and worked at the World Resources Institute and then Global Green Growth Institute in Mexico City before joining Eco Migrations.


Our Values

Established by Jose Juan, Eco Migrations was set up to bring people out to experience the place we call home, that we enjoy so thoroughly and are endlessly fascinated by. As marine biologists, we not only want to ensure best practices within tourism, but also use the facilities that we have through tourism to study the species for their continued conservation.

To Apply

Send us an email at for further details about the project. We look forward to hearing from you!

PLEASE NOTE: daily surveys will be weather dependent. Being at the hands of nature, the itinerary and activities may be subject to change. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

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