Frequently Asked Questions 

Who is behind this service?

Onca Explorations was founded by a small group of professionals, including marine scientists, naturalists and business administrators. Our mission is to connect people with wildlife thru unique experiences in nature. We contribute to wildlife conservation thru tourism, offering expeditions that function as an alternative platform for species and ecosystem research and monitoring programs. In addition, we promote environmental awareness through nature interpretation and other educational programs. Oscar Guzón Zatarain, owner and head researcher of Onca Explorations holds a Bachelors degree in Oceanography and a Masters degree in Marine Ecology. He is very well known by his authentic passion for whales and marine life, and has over 14 years of experience in cetacean field research, as well as getting people in contact with  marine mammals in their natural habitat.

Are the guides qualified?

Yes. Our guides are all experienced oceanographers, biologists and naturalists. Our training program overviews several topics related to outdoor and nature activities, particularly those related to our explorations. These include: cetacean (whale and dolphin) biology, ecology and behavior, local wildlife and flora identification and interpretation, security measures aboard marine and terrestrial vehicles, as well as behavior and communication skills for guiding tourist activities and first aid.

Can a handicap person take the tour?

Yes. As long as physical or mental condition of the participants do not affect the functional realization of the activity or exploration. However, it is important for our guests to know that  most of our tours, particularly those performed on open ocean environments (whale watching and swim with wild dolphins), are on board small (22-30 ft.) high speed vessels that demand a certain degree of strength to maintain balance and to be able to swim for at least 100 meters. For the same reasons it can be rough on people with back problems. Unfortunately, there is also not enough room to bring wheelchairs on board chartered tours but we can always manage to get wheelchairs on board private tours. Please discuss your requirements with the staff before booking:

Are the boats safe?

All of our boats are fully equipped with comfortable seats, shade, life-vests, emergency kits, additional navigation equipment (Compass, GPS, Sonar, VHF Radio) and also fulfill all harbor master requirements for safe navigation.  All of our captains have extensive experience cruising on offshore waters particularly after spending most of their lives driving commercial or sport fishing boats.

Are there extra facilities on board?

it is important for our guests to know that tours performed on open ocean environments (particularly whale & dolphin watching) are on board high speed open boats (22-30 ft.), most of them with no extra facilities on board. The use of these types of boats is required to ensure close encounters with marine life and to obtain maximum performance during research (Please contact us to discuss availability on toilet equipped boats).

Is it guaranteed to watch a whale and/or dolphins during your tours?

Wildlife is not always predictable – that’s what makes it wild! So, unfortunately we cannot guarantee that you will see whales or dolphins on our tours. However, our success rate for humpback whale sightings (during winter) per trip is above 99%, and our success rate for dolphins year-round is as high as 89%. Whales and dolphins are highly mobile animals and mostly unpredictable. However, our skills in marine and cetacean research allow us to increase the probability of finding cetaceans during the surveys while offering our clients a rich experience in marine ecosystem and wildlife interpretation. When no whales or dolphins are found, or environmental conditions compromise the security of our guests and our crew when at open ocean, we offer optional shore activities like bird watching along Isla Pájaros, or a visit to Dos Hermanos islets, home of the brown booby bird and a visit to the Sea Lion colony at Roca Tortuga where these charismatic creatures rest during the entire winter and part of the spring (November-May). Other optional activities include snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, a beach walk or a hike to the top of Isla Venados.

What am I expected to see?

Mazatlan is the port of entrance to the Gulf of California or Sea of Cortes, a place ranked as ecologically outstanding and among the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems of the world. A great marine biodiversity can be found in the area: Humpback whales during their winter migration, Bryde´s whales, as well as several species of coastal and oceanic dolphins, particularly bottlenose dolphins and Pantropical spotted dolphins, California sea lions, giant mantas, oceanic sharks and billfishes, Olive ridley sea turtles, and even a great variety of tropical reef fish if we get to practice snorkeling. So no worries, theres lots to see!

Is the tour in english?

Yes. Our guides and crew are required to handle a high level of english, and they will try their best for you to make you feel comfortable and safe on board.

What to bring?

Our rates include amenities like snacks (fruit), light lunch (sandwich) and bottled water/ soft drinks, so basically you are all set. However, here is a list of gadgets you would like to have on board for your comfort:

  • Camera (well charged and extra batteries, or for those vintage: lots of film)
  • Light jacket (Even in the tropics winter mornings can be quite chilly)
  • Towel and bathing suit (never now!)
  • Binoculars
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat or cap
  • Sunblock
  • Positive attitude!

Can I purchase this excursion once in Mazatlan?

Yes. Our office is located in Río de la Plata 409, Las Gaviotas, a residential area a few blocks from the Golden Zone area (click for map). You may also purchase our expeditions ONLINE or through your hotel concierge, or simply ask your travel agent to look us up and book you on one of our expeditions.

For reservations you can contact us directly at our webpage or call us and one of our staff members will attend you: + 52 (669) 913.40.50

You can also always send us an email to

Like us on Facebook! or Follow us on Twitter!

This post is also available in: Spanish


La vida entre dos mundos: mamíferos marinos de Sinaloa

Con el trópico de Cáncer cruzándolo a solo unos ki

11 March, 2016 read more

Humpback whale mother and calf pairs early this winter season

Female Humpback whales are thought to reach sexual

15 January, 2013 read more

First recorded sighting of False killer whales in Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

On january 10th a thursday morning, our crew left

26 April, 2012 read more


In December of 2008, National Geographic´s TRAVELER Magazine, on its 10th edition for Mexico, published an article about research-based whale watching in Mazatlan with Onca Explorations.


What people are saying….