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SeaSmart Adult Mermaids 2024 Program: 
 
SCUBA Certified women or those that wish to learn 
Join SeaSmart this summer!

Wednesday, July 24th - Saturday, August 3rd
Baja Sur California, Mexico 

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      During July 2024, we will venture to Baja Sur California, Mexico (the lower California peninsula, in northwestern Mexico, bounded to the north by the United States, to the east by the Gulf of California, and to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean) for the incredible marine life and research that is happening there.  This year’s experience is curated for travelers, not tourists, and a big part of our goal is to capacitate local residents to find sustainable ways to support themselves.  For example, we will be captained by (ex) fishermen who are learning to support their families by taking scientists, divers, ecotourists, etc. on their boats to study and see the very marine life they used to fish for.  We will model responsible practices in our interactions with marine life. 


      Our adventure will take us to both coasts of Baja Sur. On the east side of the peninsula, famously called “the world’s aquarium” by oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez is one of the most biologically diverse bodies of water on Earth. Baja California is a diver’s paradise and ocean safaris on pangas always prove to be a marine adventure. More than 85% of the Pacific Ocean’s marine mammals can be found in the Sea of Cortez, and 35% of the world’s marine mammals call it home.  The ocean habitat supports super-pods of more than 1,000 dolphins, schools of jumping mobula rays, and colonies of sea lions along the coastline. It is home to nearly 900 species of fish, including 77 found nowhere else on the planet. At least 26 species of seabirds breed on the islands. The Sea of Cortez, where the desert meets the sea, also serves as a major feeding and breeding zone for so many ocean inhabitants. We will spend the first portion of our adventure in the La Paz area, the capital of Baja California Sur, which will serve as our home base for a variety of SCUBA, whale, sea lion and mobula ray activities, conservation studies and exploration. 


      We will also visit the west side of the Baja peninsula, eco-camping on Isla Magdalena, which is bordered by Magdalena Bay (MagBay) and the Pacific Ocean.  Small channels let the water come in and out of the bay, bringing in fresh nutrients and clean water. This makes MagBay a very healthy and productive marine environment, hosting many species throughout the year. The bay houses the largest mangrove system in the Baja California peninsula and it is one of the most pristine and extensive wetlands in the world. The contrast between the sandy desert dunes, the lush mangroves and the vast blue ocean are very distinct here, and create incredible combinations of colors and textures. Home to 5 species of cacti and one agave that are almost entirely restricted to the island, Isla Magdalena is an unspoiled island that protects this bay.  Here, we will participate in critical sea turtle tagging and monitoring activities, and take advantage of hiking, kayaking, bird watching, and “sea to table” meal collection and preparation opportunities with local island residents.

To get a sense of our “Adult Mermaids Only week,” visit our memories from last summer by clicking here!

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       This program promises to offer exciting and exceptional experiences. We choose locations where developing marine conservation skills will be best nurtured and where participants can have a high impact on the endangered marine ecosystem.  Baja is an optimal destination as it is a hub of marine conservation research and activities. The program also incorporates becoming PADI Open Water SCUBA certified or can just be enjoyed by those already certified to dive.  

       

       Partnering with an incredible team of local conservationists, scientists and dive professionals, our participants will gain exposure to experiences unique to Baja.  Mornings include diving and/or dive training, followed by afternoons and evenings filled with expert-led activities, research, adventures and workshops by scientists and conservation professionals.   Our days on the water typically are best described as Ocean Safaris - searching for cetaceans, rays and any other surprise guests we may find - and jumping in to join them in the ocean. Sites are known for many sea turtle sightings - including green sea, olive ridley and hawksbill turtles. At night, we will enjoy unparalleled stargazing. 

       

       Participants will explore many important regional ocean conservation priorities and species.  A variety of species of whales migrate and mate in the waters of Baja. We will investigate the complex intertwined history of humans & whales, as well as why whales are important for healthy oceans, threats they face, and how we can help protect these incredible ocean giants. We’ll learn about whale biology & evolution, from local marine scientists and conservationists.  Our marine mammal studies will wrap up at the Osteology Laboratory and Workshop of the Museo De La Ballena, which houses the largest collection of marine megafauna skeletons in Latin America, is registered in the National Registry of Heritage Collections, and is considered among the most diverse in the world.

 

     Mobula Rays are important members of the local ecosystem, and they are threatened by a variety of factors, which will be studied through a workshop, as well as important live survey and data collection activities on and in the water. Sea Lions face many challenges, including entanglement in discarded fishing nets. Our program participants will be trained by and work with a local organization whose mission is to work to mitigate these impacts, as well as perform specialized marine mammal rescues and veterinary care. We will tour sea lion colonies, performing important monitoring and age classifying activities.  On Isla Magdalena, we will participate with local resident experts in their wildlife protection and monitoring programs. Sea turtle conservation efforts, tagging and monitoring are critical. Special nets are set, allowing turtles to breathe while temporarily collecting them for identification, and measurements of weight and size.  Likewise, land-based monitoring takes place to monitor wildlife through cameras and hikes.  Beach cleanups are always conducted, so we can leave our destination just a little better than when we arrived. 

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Trip & Program Details and FAQ’s:

How many participants can attend per program? 
Due to the custom nature of this particular program and the unique activities which have built-in limits regarding participants, we will limit each program to 12 participants. However, for a large group traveling together, alternative dates can be arranged for the program.
 

What are the prerequisites for the program? 
You do not need to be SCUBA certified to attend this program, as scuba training and potential certification is included.

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What will our days be like?

       Each day will bring a completely different breathtaking experience!  The first several days will revolve around the PADI scuba certification course, working in a confined water setting on skills necessary for scuba certification. Then you will move to open water; where you will do your final testing for certification. After certifications are completed, new divers will join with those already certified for recreational diving. The region has no shortage of amazing marine life. Those already certified will enjoy recreational dives while students are undergoing training. 


       Later in the day, our adventures will have us performing conservation and science activities, adventuring on an ocean safari, and attending workshops to prepare us for the next morning’s dive and hands-on learning.  A beach cleanup will round out our trip.  We will eat all of our personal chef-crafted meals together, unless we are out for an extended activity-then boxed lunches and snacks will be provided. 

A sample day may look like:

  • 7:00 am     Breakfast

  • 8:00 am     SCUBA  training/diving

  • 12:00 pm   Lunch

  • 1:00 pm     Whale monitoring and data collection

  • 5:00 pm     Dinner

  • 7:00 pm     Workshop on Sea Lion Conservation Topics followed by a stargazing Night Walk

*Schedules are always flexible based on weather and marine life behavior/sightings

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Who do you partner with?

     Partnering with an incredible team of local conservationists, scientists and dive professionals, our participants will gain exposure to experiences unique to Baja.  Mornings include diving and/or dive training.  Afternoons and evenings will be filled with expert-led activities, citizen science research & adventures and workshops by scientists.

Where will we stay? Where will we eat and sleep? How will we get there?

     We will be staying together as a large group in accommodations with air conditioning, shared bathrooms, and sleeping and dining areas in La Paz. (Private accommodations may be available at an additional cost). On Isla Magdalena, we will be camping along the coast in tents. Everything needed for camping will be provided.  Toilets are dry bathrooms (ie: a proper bathroom without a flush: a chalk-like substance is deposited after using.  Showers are solar powered, in a private wash room. The magical Baja landscape provides a picturesque and serene backdrop for our stay, where we can enjoy the contrast between the desert terrain and the bright blue of the nearby Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean.
 
     You will be met inside the Cabo San Lucas airport by SeaSmart representatives, and we will travel together (we will coordinate flights to arrive close to land transport time) in a comfortable van for approximately 3 hours, enjoying the unique views of the Baja Sur region. We will travel together via van and boat to Isla Margarita for the end of our adventure.  Fresh meals prepared by local chefs will be shared as a group at the resort (or in the case of longer excursion days, a boxed lunch will be provided). Most allergies/dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance notice. 

     

     Should you wish to limit your program to the La Paz portion, accommodation can be made for transport to Los Cabos airport prior to the group’s transfer to the Pacific.

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How does the scuba certification work?

     The PADI Open Water Diver Course will potentially lead participants to a certification that allows them to dive with a buddy all around the world! Over the course of our days, your instructor will teach the basics of SCUBA – encompassing the theory behind safe diving practices, skill mastery and finally becoming a PADI Open Water Diver.

Once participants have formed the base of dive skills, we will hop onto one of the dive boats (pangas) and build on what has been learned by exploring and navigating some of Baja’s many beautiful dive sites. Because there is a limit to the class sizes well below PADI limitations, you will have the most possible one-on-one time with your dive instructor as well as SeaSmart leaders. This will allow you to really understand why they love scuba diving so much and what you can do to become the best scuba diver you can be!

What if I am already certified to SCUBA dive?

     If you are already a certified diver, you can enjoy beautiful recreational dives (along with a SeaSmart leader, as well as a local dive guide) while those getting trained work toward their certification. Those in training will join together with those already certified during the program.  

What needs to be completed for an Ocean Advocate Certificate?

     There will be opportunities throughout the program to attend workshops, participate in research activities, and perform underwater observation and work.  These activities and contributions are integral to maximizing your experience and value from the program and are required for the certificate.  Service hour opportunities will also be earned pending your participation. 

Do participants have to participate in diving?

     No. While you can participate in the land-based activities only, we strongly encourage experiencing scuba training.

 

Can the participants get certified to SCUBA dive during the program?

     Yes, we have incorporated it into the program.  In most cases, participants will finish with their PADI Open Water certification.

 

Is it safe to travel to Mexico?

     The area that we travel to is very safe. Baja is a peninsula, separated by the Sea of Cortez from the mainland of Mexico. We will not travel through mainland Mexico at any time during our journey.

 

What kind of communications will there be?

     The housing has WiFi, though in remote areas there are often disruptions in service.  SeaSmart will post pictures of our adventures on social media, whenever possible, during our trip.  We encourage participants to “unplug” when they are topside, to fully experience the nature and beauty around them.  

Is there a medical facility available nearby?

     There is a doctor in La Paz, and visits typically cost $50-$80.  While we fully expect not to need it, a hyperbaric chamber is located in La Paz and an emergency action plan is in place during all dives.  

Do we need special insurance?

     Yes. SeaSmart requires that all divers have DAN (Divers Alert Network) dive accident insurance for their trip. You can sign up online at https://www.diversalertnetwork.org.  It is not expensive and covers extensively for dive-specific trips.  Your primary medical insurance may exclude scuba diving and/or may not provide coverage when you are traveling out of the country. You may or may not also opt for trip interruption travel insurance, if you do not already have that coverage. You may also wish to confirm your health insurance will cover you out of the country and/or for COVID treatment. If not, there are short term travel policies available for that. 

How much does it cost?  

 

The $3450 all inclusive fee for the entire program includes:

  • Lodging

  • 3 Meals Daily

  • PADI SCUBA Open Water training, and potentially, certification

  • Fun Dives

  • Gear Rental

  • Transportation from the Cabo San Lucas airport to all program locations and return

  • Topside activities, workshops and classes  

 

     The fee is $3250 if you are already certified, inclusive of recreational dives during the open water candidates’ training days. 

 

     We offer a $25 returning participant discount, as well as a $50 per participant discount for siblings, family members or members of a scout troop or other group when registering together. There is a $100 discount per participant for payment in full on or before March 15th.

What do I have to do before going?
     In preparation for SCUBA training, you must complete the PADI online eLearning session (separate fee) for the Open Water certification course, and submit a printout of your completion.


How do I get there?
     You are responsible for your own airfare costs.  We will have SeaSmart leaders available to meet participants in the Cabo San Lucas airport, and will coordinate our arrivals to travel together from the airport to our accommodations. Ground transportation, once in CSL, is included.  We will coordinate arrival times to ensure travel together from the airport.


What’s Next?
     Complete the online registration form below or email lisa.mcintyre@seasmartocean.org for a registration form which must accompany your deposit. A fully refundable (until May 1st) $250 deposit is due to secure your spot. A second $500 deposit is due by March 15th.  Final payment is required by May 1st, after which deposits/payments can no longer be refunded unless we can fill your spot. A $100 discount is offered for complete payments made in full on or before March 15th. If you wish to schedule a telephone or zoom call with SeaSmart to discuss further, please do not hesitate to reach out-we would be happy to answer any questions.


     Additional instructions, forms and waivers for completion, and a recommended packing list will be provided upon full payment. We will also hold an information session closer to departure to review travel details and program specifics.

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“Conservation travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is experiences that impact your ideas of living.” 

Join us on the adventure of a lifetime and gain your SCUBA certification, too! 

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