Winter of each year heralds the annual migration of gray whales to the lagoons of Baja California and the accompanying humans who yearn to see the whales up close, and in their wildest dreams, to touch one. At the December 4 ACS meeting Linda Lewis, ACS National Trips Coordinator, spoke about the trips available. These close encounters, such as watching a lithe calf ride on its mother’s back, or peering over the side of a panga into the water as a turquoise-tinted 40-foot long mother glides only inches away, are a great thrill. Yet this experience unique to Baja California is only a taste of all it has to offer.
Baja California is home to an incredible number of species of cetaceans. From the largest blue whale to the smallest harbor porpoise (vaquita), the diversity is astounding. It is not uncommon to see as many as ten species of cetaceans in as many days. While the lagoons are known as breeding and calving areas for the gray whales, breeding and calving by several other species occurs in waters along the Baja peninsula too. Off Gorda Banks, near Cabo San Lucas, humpbacks have been seen battling for dominance while mothers and tiny calves travel nearby. Majestic blue whale cow/calf pairs are frequently seen in the Sea of Cortez. With its deep canyons, the Sea of Cortez attracts sperm whales and pilot whales looking for squid. Fin and Bryde’s whales and common and bottlenose dolphins round out the frequently seen cetaceans on a Baja journey.
Cetaceans, elegant seabirds, captivating elephant seals, and desert plants were all part of this discussion. Attracted to Baja by the whales, Linda is drawn back by its magnificence.