Up-Close Gray Whales

Magdalena Bay: Gray Whales, UnCruise, Mexico

Detouring from the Sea of Cortez, our Un-Cruise Adventure took us across the Baja Peninsula to Magdalena Bay on the Pacific for some whale watching. I was hopeful, but keeping in mind that we might not spot a whale. After seeing some dolphins heading for deeper water, we circled back into the bay and found a mother and young gray whale checking out the few boats that were bobbing around waiting. This move is called Spyhopping–when the whale pops up vertically to have a look around. The two whales entertained us by brushing up against the boats, blowing, diving, and skimming the waters around us. It was simply a thrill, and even more fun for the shouts and squeals coming from a boat of schoolchildren nearby.

Whale watching from Puerto Lopes Mateo, Magdalena Bay, Mexico

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Whale watching from Puerto Lopes Mateo, Magdalena Bay, Mexico

Whale watching in the area is limited and restricted to local guides setting out from the port of Lopez Mateo. Boats are to stay at a distance from the whales, but it becomes a judgement call whether the whales have approached the boat or the boat the whales. Some say the friendly behavior is the whales' way of expressing forgiveness for all the sins man has committed against them. Others believe the mothers are teaching their young by exposing them to these humans; still others think the whales are taking an opportunity to scrape the barnacles off their backs.

Several dozen baby whales were born here this season. The young one we saw was a bit longer than the boat. The mother, barnacle-covered and splotchy gray, was about twice that long. Soon they'll make their way up the coast toward Alaska.

Read the full story about our adventures on the Sea of Cortez right here.

Whale watching from Puerto Lopes Mateo, Magdalena Bay, Mexico

Whale watching from Puerto Lopes Mateo, Magdalena Bay, Mexico

Whale watching from Puerto Lopes Mateo, Magdalena Bay, Mexico

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7 thoughts on “Up-Close Gray Whales”

  1. Stunning shots! I’ve never seen gray whales, and to have them so close. Amazing. I didn’t like all the boats around them. Being from Alaska, I think they are playing with the ‘distance’ rules a little.

    • Yes, the proximity rules were definitely being bent. Most of the time, they were taking turns, making sure only 2-3 boats were nearby, taking turns up close. Another rule is to approach only from the sides or behind, so as not to cut them off. That, too, (quoting Ghostbusters) was “more of a guideline than a rule.” Even two or three boats seemed to surround the young whale. Fortunately, whales have the depth dimension, too.

  2. How could I have missed this glorious email with WHALES?
    Seems one could almost touch them–and then in the next picture, you did.
    I found these attached to the Canada whale pictures. Surely glad I got to see both!
    What fun to travel, even vicariously!


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