The great experience of whale watching – LCM 52 Spring 2020

The great experience of whale watching
By Oscar Ortíz and Michelle P. Valdés

Marine mammals are so charismatic that they cause us a lot of curiosity, a special place to observe them is the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean, these animals belonging to the group of mammals share certain characteristics with humans such as maintaining a constant body temperature, they have lungs, which makes it necessary for them to often come to the surface to breathe (every 15-20 minutes) and at some stage of their development they have hair, the young are breastfed at birth.

Marine mammals are divided into two groups that are the Odontocetes and the Mysticetes. Odontocetes are organisms that have teeth because their diet consists of crustaceans, fish and small animals. These organisms have a breathing spiracle, they are also very social animals, since they come to live in groups or clans of 50 to 500 individuals, as is the case with killer whales, dolphins and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) something particular of these The latter is that they can have their own form of communication and are considered excellent divers since they can stay up to 1hr underwater.

The Mysticetes have baleen in the mouth, formed of keratin and through them filter the food as they are small crustaceans, krill or anchovies, they have two breathing spiracles and some whales sing, within this group we can observe the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), is cosmopolitan and migratory, reaches a length of 33.5 m (109 ft) is the largest animal that exists on the planet, they are commonly seen from December to April near Loreto Island.

The gray whale (Eschirichtius robustus), performs one of the longest migrations among mammals, every year it travels between 15 and 20 thousand kilometers round trip from the icy seas between Alaska and Russia, to the waters of Baja California Sur. It can measure up to 15 meters long and weigh 35 tons, the skin is gray, with white spots that allow each individual to differentiate. The body is covered with barnacles, scales or lice. They have several protuberances, but they lack a true dorsal fin, it remains close to the coast, at a maximum distance of 20 kilometers. It inhabits two areas in the world: the coasts of Asia (from Russia to China) and the coasts that go from Alaska to Baja California Sur, in Mexico

You will also observe the humpback whales (Megaptera novaegliae) in the Gulf of California and on the Pacific Ocean side, in Baja California Sur from Los Cabos to the Marietas Islands, it is one of the most admired whales for the acrobatics it performs, they have pectoral fins very long that cover approximately a quarter of the total of its body, the caudal fin is an icon of beauty as well as a fingerprint, because in each of them the marks and colors they present make them unique.

Humpback whales sing and emit sounds that last up to 30 minutes, it is very likely that the song is for mating and is more noticeable in males, although it could also be a form of communication between members of a group some other type of social behavior.

Whale songs have rhymes, verses, rhythm and variations. It is not about random sounds, but they are predictable and original at the same time. Whales of the same species never sing the same songs.

You have to live the experience of whale watching, at least once in your life!, From very early the crew and the zodiac are prepared for the tour, once registered, you go to the boat to start the adventure, with all the security measures, we are ready!, you feel the positive spirit to find the whales, once in the sighting area we all open our eyes very well to look for blows or some splash in the distance, speed It increases and you can feel the breeze caressing your face and the sun’s rays that encourage us to search, once the crew indicates that a whale was notified, we headed towards the indicated point, without losing sight of the breath of the whales in In the case of blue whales, the breath is so high (10-12 meters) that it is very evident and sometimes humpback whales surprise us with a jump that is easy to see in the distance. Already near the whales we put ourselves in a lateral position to observe and enjoy the show, Woowww, it is impossible not to let out shouts of joy or surprise, on lucky days there is a lot of activity, breachs, pec slaps, fluke slaps and sometimes curious whales or calfs that pass under the boat, magical moments, that you want to keep forever in videos or photographs that you will never erase, the reaction of the participants is surprising, because regardless of race, color or age, there is something magical to observe these large mammals, reveals the best of the inner child that we all carry inside and your ability to surprise you returns as when we were childrens, capacity that as an adult immersed in the monotony of life you lose, but when you are close to the whales in the beautiful natural scenery , that magic returns, we are all equal human beings and we join in the celebration just as children, time is up it’s time to say goodbye s and to allow the whales to continue their journey, thanks for the meeting, we embark on the return with happy faces of the entire crew , after the experience it is very difficult to erase the smiles of the faces, it was an amazing show!

To carry out a sustainable observation activity, verify that the company has its respective permit and the certified boat flag, check that only 4 boats remain around the whale, since the observation time is a maximum of 30 minutes, the distance of Minimum observation in the case of humpback whales is 60 meters (196 ft) in small boats, the approach to the whale is always, by the back side and the maximum navigation speed It is 5 knots (9km / hr) … ¿now with this information you are ready to enjoy whale watching?

The Gulf of California and specifically Cabo San Lucas is an ideal area for the study and conservation of several species of cetaceans, where you can not only live the experience of watching humpback whales, but also listen to some of their beautiful songs.