My third trip to Baja California Sur, Mexico was the best one yet, with much of that thanks to Jahaziel of Baja Sur Tours, and, of course, the wealth of wildlife that welcomed us there. It's not only the wonderful Mexican people that are incredibly friendly, but the gray whales too. Aptly nicknamed "The Friendlies," the whales come to three breeding lagoons in the Sea of Cortez: Magdalena Bay, San Ignacio Lagoon and Scammon’s Lagoon, gathering here between mid-January and mid-April before heading north to Alaska on their annual migration.
Many of these whales specifically seek out human contact in the lagoons, with mothers bringing their calves to “introduce them” to curious visitors. These lagoons are the only three places in the world where the gray whales birth their babies. The government strictly regulates all access, ensuring that human activities don’t negatively affect these magnificent creatures.
The lagoons are protected from the strong waves and currents of the Pacific Ocean, and the lagoons are shallow. The gray whales' only predator, the killer whale, won't enter into such shallow water, making it the ideal environment for the mothers to nurse their newly born calves. It's also easy for the mothers to supervise while the young whales learn how to swim, how to breath properly, feed, dive and teach them how to interact with other whales.
The whales really seem to enjoy the interactions with humans, just as much as humans enjoy them. The mothers sometimes even lift the babies out of the water or let them rest on top of them while the baby gets all of the attention.
The trip to Magadalena Bay takes several hours from La Paz, but our tour guide and owner of Baja Sur Tours, Jahaziel, drove us there and we made a number of fun stops along the way, including a cafe with some of the best coffee I've ever had. As there are fossils found throughout the area, I even picked up some Megalodon shark teeth!
Our tour included only myself and my daughter Brooke, Jahaziel, and the boat captain. As we stepped inside the boat, we were excited with anticipation, and the day truly turned out to be one of the best of our lives. How grateful I am that the whales chose to meet with us.
Olivia, as one of the mother friendlies was referred to, floated right next to the boat as I rubbed her head for a good 10 minutes - until, baby suddenly popped up, nudging my arm similar to a jealous dog, looking for attention.
The first video you'll see below is thanks to our amazing tour guide, Jahaziel of Baja Sur Tours, while I captured the one that follows - something I realized is not so easy to do when all you want to really do is enjoy this magical and even transformational experience that makes all the bad in the world seem to fade away as you connect with these magnificent animals.
This was only one day of our 8-day trip in Baja, so more posts to come, including snorkeling with sea lions and our stay in Cabo Pulmo National Park. There is so much to see and do on the Baja Peninsula, it would take years, if not a lifetime to experience it all.