Kori Garza is a marine biologist, professional shark diver, wildlife conservationist, UW photographer, and blogger, based in French Polynesia. She has been running Ladyshark Expeditions, co-founded the Mao Mana Foundation, and has also been featured on Discovery and Nat Geo Wild. Recently, she decided that she won't be offering whale expeditions anymore. This is why.
I've been blessed to live in Moorea and experience 8 consecutive whale seasons. I've been honored to bring my private expedition groups to the place I love most and share these experiences with them for 6 of those years. I thank each and everyone one of my past guests deeply. However, this season I have decided to close this chapter as I will no longer be offering expeditions to swim with the humpback whales of Moorea.
This decision is one I've been battling with for some time, but it wasn't until becoming a mother myself that I knew this last season would be my final season. Not because my duties or emotions are now overwhelming as a mother, but my perspective on sustainable (and more importantly ethical practices) has changed. I can't imagine in the most intimate, emotionally and physically exhausting period of my life what it must feel like to have hundreds of strangers knocking on my door, peeking in my windows, and chasing after me and my newborn from sunrise to sunset in the place I have traveled thousands of miles to for safety and comfort.
This is not an attack on whale swimming itself, nor on the operators who are just trying to meet the rising demands and who truly enjoy sharing their passion and connection to the ocean (a majority of which who are very dear friends, and even my partner/father of my child is included here). This is not to shame others who are comfortable with these activities, not by any means. This activity is one of the most important and beautiful experiences a human being could have in their lifetime. It's just that Moorea island has seen the explosion of this activity over the last ten years and my sensitivity in justifying my personal contribution to these activities has shifted. And I want to remain aligned with my core beliefs, which means taking a back seat until more intensive regulations are established to accommodate the rising number of vessels and guests arriving each season.
Even if I only take small groups, even if we choose different time frames, even if we search offshore or in rough waters where other boats don't go, even if I set my own regulations for my groups by not visiting whales with multiple boats and leaving if other boats arrive to a whale that we have found... the contribution to the collective activity still exists.
So thank you to those who have joined me on these adventures at home, where I have been blessed to live and share these experiences with you. Thank you to my incredibly passionate and dedicated captains and guides for the long days and countless smiles. And most importantly, thank you to the whales for some of the most incredible moments of my life.