Field Notes 2012
Laguna Ojo de Liebre, Baja California Sur, Mexico
March 28: Final report of the 2012 whale-watching season!
Hi everyone! The gray whale migration this year was terrific for us at the Baja nursery lagoons. Every one of the three bays had many whales present inside the lagoons. For those of you who don't know: There are three protected bays or lagoons on the West Coast of Baja California, Mexico where the Gray whales migrate into each year. While not all the whales go inside the lagoons, normally about 10% to 15% of the total estimate gray whale population does go inside.
This year more than 750 baby whales were inside Laguna Ojo de Liebre, the northernmost of the gray whale lagoon (28.90N,
-113.00W). Laguna Ojo de Liebre is a large bay with lots of shallow water, but a few deep spots. Here the whales like to swim in the currents that flow in the deeper channels as the tide goes in or out.
San Ignacio Lagoon (Journey North's Observation Post #2) had a couple hundred baby whales this season. This lagoon is the one that most magazines and newspapers choose to write stories about. It is the middle lagoon in location and the smallest in size.
Magdalena Bay (Journey North's Observation Post #1 )also had a couple hundred baby whales this year. Magdalena Bay is the most southern of the three lagoons, so the weather is usually a bit warmer than at the other two locations. Magdalena Bay is the nearest lagoon to La Paz and Cabo San Lucas.
Between the three lagoons there were about 1,000 confirmed baby gray whale births this year. This is a large number —almost double the "average" number of baby whales. This year I noticed there seemed to be fewer adult whales inside the lagoon engaged in mating activity. It will be interesting to see what the baby whale count is next year. Perhaps a lot of mating activity took place outside in the open ocean, rather than inside the protected lagoons as it usually does.
I will next go to the California Channel Islands to see Blue Whales in August.
Then I will travel to the Arctic to lead the last Narwhal expedition that I will ever schedule.
Until next year, I wish you good whale watching wherever you may go!
Baja Jones Adventure Travel
February 29: Keith Jones reports: "The latest whale census done by the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and Profepa (Mexican Fisheries) counted more than 1,700 total gray whales inside Laguna Ojo de Liebre. This is the highest count in four years and above the average of 1,200 to 1,500 whale count. It has been a great year for the gray whales here at Laguna Ojo de Liebre!
"Foreign tourism at the lagoon is down by 50% to 75% from past years. For the first time ever there are more Mexican whale watching tourists in town than there are foreigner tourists." [This is due to current political unrest in Mexico.]
ALSO: Varvara is here! The tagged female gray whale named Varvara moved northward from Magdalena Bay has spent the past few days traveling close to shore between the mouths of the two lagoon of Ojo de Liebre and Guerrero Negro. How long will she stay? Where will she go next?
February 14, 2012: No report this week.
February 1, 2012: Guide and tour leader Keith Jones sent results of the first two official census reports at this nursery lagoon:
January 17: 423 adults + 237 babies = 660 Total
January 23: 492 adults + 316 babies = 808 Total
"These are excellent numbers for so early," said Keith, and indicate to me that perhaps we will see 1,500 to 2,000 whales inside the lagoon around February 15. YES, I think this will be an excellent migration season!"