Guide Report: Feb. 27-Mar05, 2014Gray Whales of San Ignacio Lagoon
By: Liisa Juuti
There are 243 gray whales in San Ignacio Lagoon at the moment and they are becoming more and more friendly as the season goes by. The males are usually the first ones to start the migration back to Alaska, but we can still see mating and young males around. The calves have become more courageous, often being the first ones to approach the boats. In one of the whale watching trips we had the same mother and baby playing with us during the 90 minutes that we are allowed to be in the observation are. They just didn’t seem to have enough of scratching and splashing!
We had a gifted wildlife painter giving demonstrations of his work. Thanks to the interesting workshops and presentations we learned more about photographing wildlife. In one of the talks a well-known sports journalist shared his experience of how observing and interacting with wild animals can be a life changing experience. I personally get very emotional thinking about the cruel whaling period, in this very same lagoon, not more than hundred years ago. At that time the gray whales were called “the devil fish” due to their aggressive behavior trying to defend their lives. The locals were afraid of them, until in the early 1970s Pachico Mayoral, a local fisherman had the first friendly contact with a gray whale. That encounter changed the whole nature of our interaction with these cetaceans and started the whale watching tourism. I still get tears in my eyes observing the mothers encouraging their babies to interact with us; we were just about to get rid of the whole species, yet have they forgiven us and seek for our contact. We sure have a lot to learn from them.