OCC-Uruguay is committed to the protection of at least 26 species of cetaceans, which are resident or migratory species in Uruguay’s territorial waters. The most common and predominant are: Right whale (Eubalaena sp.), Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops sp.), Killer whale (Orcinus orca), and the endangered La Plata dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei). There are also reported sightings of the Common dolphin, Sperm whales, Minke whales, Fin whales, Humpback whales, Pilot whales and different species of Ziphius. In the last decade, OCC-Uruguay has identified the major threats to marine conservation along Uruguay’s Atlantic coast, and worked hard to establish both the legislative foundations, inter-institutional and public support necessary for change. OCC advocates for protecting the ocean and marine life, promoting Uruguay’s territorial sea as a “Sanctuary for Whales and Dolphins” (National Law 19.129). OCC was also instrumental in Uruguay’s return to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) after 22 years’ absence; integrate the official delegation and co-sponsorship for the wider South Atlantic Sanctuary for Whales and Dolphins.
Achievements include: establishing the “Route of the Whale” – declared of National Interest by Uruguay’s Ministry for Tourism (2002); installation of viewing platforms along the coast, the training of +400 tourism operators and +50 accredited guides; creating a volunteer whale watching network, to alert national coastguard officials in cases where whales are threatened or stressed by boats, kayaks or other marine activity; establishing protocols of good practice and certification of responsible and sustainable tourism for marine activities, supported by the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), Ministry for the Environment (MVOTMA) and the national coastguard (2015).