Runaway Photo: Tips on Watching Gray Whale in Baja California Sur, Mexico

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Runaway Photo: Tips on Watching Gray Whale in Baja California Sur, Mexico

 

Mexico-Loreto-Whale-2414

 

Gray whales in the wild

 

The best whale watching I’ve experienced so far happened in Adolfo Lopez Mateos in Baja California Sur last week. Town of Adolfo Lopez Mateos in the coast of Bahia Magdalena, which is located in the Municipality of Comondu, 40 minutes north of Ciudad Constitucion towards the Pacific, this zone has the quickest access from other destinations such as La Paz, Los Cabos and Loreto. The long channel creates the perfect environment for the whales and for the Observers like us.

 

 

About gray whales

 

Gray whales are mammals that accomplish one of the largest migrations in the Animal Kingdom. They travel more than 10,000 miles from their breeding zones in Mexico to their feeding zones in the cold Arctic waters and back to their breeding areas. Calves are born in the well protected waters inside the lagoon where cows take care of them and feed them until the end of March.

 

Mom and calf gray whales

Gray whale's migration route

Gray whale’s migration route

 

Toward the end of December, the gray whales start arriving to the lagoons after traveling 6 – 8 weeks at an average speed of 5 km. Pregnant females arrive first. Currently the population of gray whales has recovered to an estimation of 22,000 individuals. They are protected by Mexican law.

 

 

Adolfo Lopez Mateos

 

Why Adolfo Lopez Mateo is a great place for the whales

Why Adolfo Lopez Mateo is a great place for the whales

These lagoons are habitat for California sea lions, dolphins, herons, egrets, shorebirds as well as ospreys and Magnificent Frigatebirds. Black turtles enter the lagoons to feed on seagrass as well. The sand dunes make a very unique natural environment for the animals around the area. It’s a home for not only whales, but also a lot of seabirds and animals. This unique habitat combines the beauty of its mangroves and sand dunes with its wonderful wildlife to provide amazing landscapes to the people.

As you can see from the map, the water channel at Adolfo Lopez Mateos provides the perfect environment for the females and the young borns. This time of the year in this area, you’ll always see a pair of whales: female and calves or a couple. Female whales gave a birth in the safe place and swim back to the feeding zone pregnant. Because the water is shallow and calm, a huge population of the whales hangs out in the channel. Mothers teach calves how to swim and breath. And when you go out in the deeper water, now you’ll see the diving whales and their tales.

Water channel at Adolfo Lopez Mateo is a home for seabirds

Water channel at Adolfo Lopez Mateo is a home for seabirds

Gray whale watching tips

 

Study the swimming and diving patterns of whales to locate whales better. By watching their blow as the surface will help us locate them. The blow or spout is about 12’ high. They blow a few times 45 seconds apart and dive for about 3 to 5 minutes.

 

Gray whales are extremely friendly. If the boat engine is off, they will come and swim around the boat, say hi. They are curious. When the whales come closer, gently splash water to get their attention. They tend to swim toward the water movement. If they allow you, try touch them gently. I wasn’t that lucky but it’s possible.

 

 

Gray Whale at Adolfo López Mateos, Baja California Sur.

Gray Whale at Adolfo López Mateos, Baja California Sur.

Back of the gray whale

Back of the gray whale

Gray whale breathing hard

Gray whale breathing hard

Sand dunes at Adolfo López Mateos, Baja California Sur.

Sand dunes at Adolfo López Mateos, Baja California Sur.

Curious gray whale came up to our boat

Curious gray whale came up to our boat

Great whale in the Pacific

Great whale in the Pacific

Whale watching is happening!

Whale watching is happening!

Barnacles on the gray whale

Barnacles on the gray whale

Whale dive

Whale dive

Whale dive

Whale dive

Whale dive

Whale dive

Diving scene from the side

Diving scene from the side

 

#Disclosure: Our gray whale watching tour was sponsored by Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto during the FAM trip. However, all the contents are made by my own opinion.

 

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

20 Comments

  1. Alex says:

    WOW! I went whale watching in Iceland, but we were lucky if we saw a bit of the back of the dorsal fin. These photos are incredible!

    • Juno Kim says:

      I was surprised too. I’ve heard the same thing in Iceland, that we’re lucky if we saw a couple of them. I Went to see puffin watching instead. This whale watching tour was amazing! 🙂

  2. Stephen says:

    I’m surprised you were able to get so close to them. (Or do you just have a good zoom?)

    • Juno Kim says:

      Both, I had 55-200mm zoom lens, and they were really close to the boat. Some of them were right next to the boat we could almost touch them. I could clearly see the barnacles and the blowhole!

  3. bernie says:

    WOW!! GREAT PHOTOS!!

  4. Indeed you got really close to them, that much better! Did you get to see any of them jump?

  5. Andi says:

    These photos are gorgeous!!!! I’ve been whale watching 3 times and still haven’t seen them. 🙁

  6. Ross says:

    Great photos. Looks like a lot of fun. I gone out to see grey whales a couple of times but never got that close!

  7. Ayngelina says:

    I went to Baja last year but never saw the whales. Looks like I missed out.

    Also loving your new site design!

  8. You can see whales in California too, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Someday!

  9. Erica says:

    EEEEEE I’m so jealous! HOW AWESOME!!!!

    What an experience!

  10. […] You can see more photos of Gray Whales from this tour on RunawayJuno here. […]

  11. Brigid says:

    Great pics! I also went whale watching in Cabo about a month ago. Didn’t get up as close as you did, but still one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

    Would love to go again and hopefully get a wee bit closer next time. Do you have any tips for whale watching in the Yucatan part of Mexico?

  12. WHOA!
    How close did you get to them – Or did you have a super-zoom lens?!

    The tail shots are beautiful 🙂

    Rob.

  13. […] The passion and love led me to visit and photograph orangutans in Indonesia, panda bears in China, gray whales in Mexico, and now elephants. I’m no master at wildlife photography, but I tried my best to capture this […]

  14. […] with mangroves, trees, and birds, that meets the Pacific Ocean.  It reminded me of the time when I went to see gray whales in Baja California Sur.  The long and narrow channel was perfect for the whale mothers and for us […]

  15. […] even more great photos from the day, check out this post from our friend Runaway Juno who was on the same whale watching excursion as I was.  But to truly […]

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