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Whales in Laguna San Ignacio

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Published on Feb 26, 2013

Betty and I recently visited Laguna San Ignacio along the Pacific coast of Baja California in Mexico. We were there to see the Gray Whales who the make the lagoon their winter home and nursery.

This is the only place in the world where whales actively seek out human contact; it is part of the whale culture in that lagoon. There are other lagoons along the Baja coast where whales overwinter but the whales in those other lagoons do not behave the same way.

We went out to see the whales twice a day for three days and were approached many times by friendly whales. They allow themselves to be touched and, in fact, seem to seek out physical contact and engage in playful behavior with visitors. One of them even lifted our boat very gently. In spite of their immense size and close proximity we were never the least bit frightened that they might overturn our boat; something they could do quite easily. There is an amazing gentleness about them.

In almost all cases where boats are approached by whales it is a female with a newly born calf. The mothers seem to want to show off their babies.

The lagoon is very isolated and the whale tours are managed by local people who are also fishermen. They are very protective of the whales and restrict the number of boats, the areas where the boats can go, and the the amount of time visitors can be out there. The Mexican government also protects them and the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The experience of getting close to a large but very gentle wild animal like this was an amazing and very moving experience. I'll try to post some other videos and photos in the near future.

Neal

You can find our base camp at the lagoon on Google Earth right here: 26°47'37.76"N 113°13'0.75"W

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