Friday, February 6, 2015

Guide Report From San Ignacio Lagoon

Guide Report Feb 1-6, 2015

By: Liisa Juuti

It is just WONDERFUL to be back in the lagoon. The children at the camp have grown up and a new baby was born in the family. The willets, whimbrels and marbled godwits are hanging around in the shore in front of the cabins as if a year hadn’t gone by. The ospreys are around, as usual. Despite of our attempts to suggest a calmer place, the roof of our public baños seems to be THE best spot for nesting... As for the whales, they are just everywhere! There have been windy moments with whales staying below the surface and in inner parts of the lagoon, but for the majority of the time we have had a constant show of spyhopping and fluking, males chasing the females, as well as courageous mothers with their curious babies approaching the pangas.

I was curious to see if the El Niño year has affected the whales.  El Niño of 1997-1998 that warmed coastal waters and disrupted marine food webs brought the gray whale population from near 22,000 to about 16,000 two years later. The whales in San Ignacio Lagoon were significantly skinnier that year. According to the whale census (Feb 5th) there are 224 whales in the lagoon and it is a relief to notice that they look very healthy, active and playful! There are some interesting behavior changes among the gray whales that have been reported, though. Normally baleen whales don’t travel in pods but alone or in very small groups, however a few weeks back they have been spotted to travel in a pod of 18 and another pod of 15 just off the cost of L.A. area. Why is this? Do they feel more secure?

We had a hilarious small group of very active and interesting world travelers visiting us, guided by Jim Dorsey, award-winning author-explorer-photographer-lecturer with extensive experience in wildlife. We had a relaxing kayaking afternoon in the mangroves, where we spotted juvenile blue herons, red egrets and a kingfisher. Our German guest had an unfortunate incident with his camera falling to the water (“It’s not the camera, but the photos!”). To our big surprise, during the Happy Hour Paco, Maldo’s eldest son, walked in to the palapa with the camera in his hand! He had walked about a mile to the mangrove on low tide and had found the camera. So the whale-touching photos were saved! Besides their excellent kayaking and bird spotting skills, a few of our guests proved to be very efficient chocolate clam hunters. They also finished the 20+ catch effortlessly, with lemon and spicy salsa, of course!


  1. looks like great fun! beautiful blue skies and apparently warm weather... greetings to all of you!

  2. Great report! Evokes memories of the sights and sounds of Campo Cortez and S.I. Lagoon. Glad to hear the happy ending to the German gentleman's camera (or at least the photos within it). Way to go, Paco! :) Very nice report, Liisa. Lots of great info. Thank you.