About the Project
In the northernmost part of South America, at the tip of Colombia, there is a great desert that extends for miles on end. Despite being a difficult and hostile place, the Wayuú community live here using their limited resources wisely.
Strong, intelligent, and exceptional hosts, the Wayuú community of Punta Gallinas has developed a “rancheria”—a place to sleep, eat, and find shelter from the strong sun. Due to the difficult environment, they have traditionally consumed many species as a means of survival—species that are often considered either inedible or unethical in terms of consumption such as sharks and turtles. However, for the past years the Wayuú community has stopped consuming turtles and, with the aid of Conservation International and other organizations, turtle conservation programs have been established to increase new born turtles’ chances of survival. Although the community has also greatly reduced their consumption of sharks, there are still occasional catches of species such as Tiger Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Thresher Sharks, Nurse Sharks, and more. We have begun to work with the community to change this trend.
Through knowledge exchange with the community, we hope to work together to collect scientific data on shark identities, frequencies, seasonal patterns, and locations in the northern waters of Colombia. Working with the Wayuú community, we have developed “Puyuii,” a project that aims to empower the community of Punta Gallinas (Hospedaje Luz Mila) to share, learn, collect data, and ultimately conserve their sharks while developing a sustainable economy based on shark tourism. Consequently, together with the Wayuú community, CUE and Adventi Nuestra Marca (a Colombian, adventure-based tourism company), have created Shark Sightseeing Expeditions.
These expeditions aim to engage broader audiences interested in understanding these amazing animals and their environment, by helping to collect scientific data. By interacting with sharks in the water, free diving with them, and taking pictures of them, we are hoping to raise awareness of the inherent value of these species. Even though they are powerful, (and for many, intimidating!), sharing a moment with these animals is breath-taking. To CUE, it is the recipe of true living! Hence, for every dive expedition, course, and product sold, a contribution is made to fund the community-based project, helping to ensure continuous research and lasting support. In the long run, we aim to track and tag sharks with the community: A transition from fishing-eating sharks to fishing-tagging sharks.
How can you help? By joining our expeditions you directly contribute to the funding of ongoing research to document the lives of sharks, and consequently aid in their protection.
Why should you join? This is a great opportunity to be part of a phenomenal expedition to one of the few remaining, “untouched” parts of South America. You will be able to free dive with sharks, take photographs, and watch professionals interact in the water with the animals–on the animals’ terms. This is actually a perfect expedition for those with a fear of sharks! We offer you the chance to experience sharks in their own environment; to watch how smoothly, slowly, and gracefully these great predators move; and to gain a better understanding of their behaviour and their integral importance to ocean ecosystems. It will also give you that adrenaline kick we know you’re seeking!
Additionally, the Expedition includes another important cultural aspect, as we will be staying with the Wayuú community of Punta Gallinas. Here, we will learn from their traditional knowledge, enjoy their unequivocal hospitality, and join them in local activities to gain a deeper appreciation of their place-based realities and experiences.
We aim to raise awareness of the inherent significance of marine predators as well as their importance in the development of a sustainable economy. Toward these ends, we will create space for knowledge exchange and tool development with the local community and CUE Expedition teams, to research and understand shark interactions as well as community needs. Working together in these ways, we seek to promote respect for the links between biological and cultural diversity through both conservation and responsible tourism practices.