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UDLAP Student Participates in Marine Mammal World Congress in Barcelona, Spain

  • Daniela Ahuatzin presents her Honors Program thesis research on the sperm whale population in the Gulf of California.

Daniela Ahuatzin, a Licenciatura in Biology student at Universidad de las Américas Puebla, and Dr. Alejandro Arias del Razo, a faculty member of the Department of Chemical Biological Sciences also at UDLAP, participated in the Marine Mammal World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, to present the research work of her honors thesis.

“This is the world’s most important meeting on Marine Mammalogy – the study of marine mammals – that takes place every two years at different cities around the globe. This year it was in Barcelona, where works on this topic were presented before 3 thousand attendees,” declared in an interview Dr. Arias.  He added that the work done by Daniela contained data important enough to merit its presentation in this world-class event.

This work studies the population of sperm whales in the Gulf of California, a topic that draws the attention of the general public and of marine biology students.  “The research, based on my thesis project for the honors program at the university, followed the historical data and information available on the population of this species through several years.  It identified individuals of the species sighted in the region, estimating a population of about 320 whales.  However, beginning in 2015 we observed a drastic fall in the number of whales sighted, so we decided to study the reasons for this phenomenon, reviewing factors such as temperature and primary activity.  The results obtained through this investigation indicated, as one possible motive, the number of giant squids in the area, which has dropped as well, and which are the most important prey for the sperm whale,” explained Daniela Ahuatzin.

It is relevant to point out that, in order to participate in the World Congress of Marine Mammals, they had to go through several filters that finally allowed them to attend the congress as presenters. “A summary in English of the research work was submitted to the scientific committee to be evaluated and approved. It is worth noting that to be approved the quality of the research must be high, since the number of works submitted is quite big,” said Dr. Arias.

Finally, it is worth noting that the acceptance of UDLAP students to participate in world-class events demonstrates the quality of their research as well as the academic formation they receive.