Parliamentary petitioners included schoolchildren from Rocha and Maldonado who convinced legislators to pass the law by going to the parliament in Montevideo and leaving hand-written letters with drawings for each politician.
The ruse was the brainchild of the Organisation for the Conservation of Cetaceans (OCC) – cetacea are aquatic mammals, mainly sea creatures like whales and dolphins (Ed. Note: I didn’t know either, hence I include the definition) – a local non-profit which had first floated the idea of a national sanctuary in 2002.
The law applies not just to territorial waters but also to the Uruguayan waters’ “economic zone”.
This is really significant. Most whales which end up on the beach dead or injured have collided with commercial shipping.
With powerful economic interests at stake, effective regulation will be needed. I wonder how stories such as this one, on the death of orcas possibly killed by fracking tests in the waters off La Pedrera reported in 2012, a year before the law was passed, are playing out today.
Read more about whale-watching in Uruguay
5 best places to whale-watch in Uruguay You don’t need to hire a boat or go on an expensive trip to watch whales in Uruguay. Between June and November you can watch them close-up from the beach itself.
Photos: Uruguay in Photos