Monday, August 13, 2012

Gray Whales at Lopez Mateos

This March my parents from England made their first visit to La Paz.

My wife and I, having never been, took them on a trip to see the Gray Whales at Lopez Mateo.

Each year hundreds of whales congregate along the coastline of the Baja California Sur penninsula, and one of their favourite spots is the shallow, warm and nutrient rich waters of Magdalena Bay.

They spend between 2 and 3 months here, slowly moving north, after they give birth to their calves, as they train and nurture them until they are able to make the long trip back to the waters of Alaska where they spend the majority of the year feeding.

Gray Whale Migration Route - Courtesy of
The Gray Whales have the longest migration route of any known mammal, and we are lucky enough to have their breeding grounds so close to La Paz.

We made the trip with our friends at Choya Tours who for a very reasonable fee took us all the way there and back, and fed and watered us throughout the day at two different local restaurants.

As it was our first time we chose to go with an organized tour guide.  They took us to Lopez Mateos as in March this is the best place to see lots of whales.  It is the last of the bays before the whales reach the Pacific Ocean, meaning this is their last chance to learn and grow before bracing those cold Pacific waters.

We were at the bay in around 3 hours after a quick stop for breakfast, and we were right out onto the water as soon as we arrived.

The whales are very close to the shore and we could actually see the splashes of the whales clapping their tails on the water.

We were on the water for 30 or so minutes with many close encounters but no up close and personal experiences

Then out of the blue, literally, a baby whale (remember these babies are the size or large SUVs), started to play with us and our boat.  The baby and her mother, who arrived shortly after, stayed with us for over 30 minutes, giving us an unforgettable experience.

I decided to bring my smaller camera as I couldn't risk dropping my nicer one, however the photos still turned out fantastic, and I even took a few videos.

The tour operators are well regulated, and only about 10 boats were allowed into the waters at a time, meaning that it was never too crowded for us or for the whales.

There must have been 50+ whales in the area at any one time, however the majority shied away from the camera lens.

I caught the video below after about 10 minutes with our two new whale friends, and my mother was having a great time patting and stroking the baby whale, when all of a sudden it decided to squirt her in the face as it blew air and mucus out of its blow hole.

As well as whales there was plenty of other wildlife in the area.  We saw many many peregrine falcons, magnificent frigate birds, blue and gray herons and much much more.

It was a fantastic day out that I will certainly be recommending to anyone visiting La Paz between January and March.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing creatures, thanks for sharing! I read that the best season for whale spotting is between December and March, right? And there's also a whale museum in La Paz, where they have this big blue whale skeleton in the courtyard.