Field Notes 2013
Laguna Ojo de Liebre, Baja California Sur, Mexico
April 21: This weekend more or less marks the end of Baja gray whale watching for this year. There are still perhaps 100 whales inside Laguna Ojo de Liebre, but the tourists have stopped coming and all the whale watching boats are being stored away until next year.
April 12: The 12th Laguna Ojo de Liebre census (April 12, 2013) showed 78 baby whales and 81 adult whales—still 159 in the lagoon. I hope they hurry north and get some food!
March 25: The gray whales are slowly leaving Laguna Ojo de Liebre for their return north. The latest census count was performed on March 25. There are still 208 baby whales and 246 adults for a total of 454. To put this in perspective, a typical normal year will see 200 to 250 baby whales and about 1,000 to 1,250 adult whales at the peak. So right now there are still as many baby-and-mom pairs as we normally have at the peak of the migration.
March 24: recent census showed tht Laguna Ojo de Liebre still had 345 baby whales and 398 adult whales inside the lagoon. Total 743 still there. Spring break has turned into a wonderful watching time. These 345 baby whales are big, curious and—like teenagers—love to explore and ignore their mom.
March 11: The latest whale census at Laguna Ojo de Liebre counted 526 babies and 640 adult whales still in the lagoon.
February 26: The latest gray whale census at Laguna Ojo de Liebre shows 592 baby whales and a total of 1,321 gray whales. This is an increase from the last census of most 100 baby whales. Traditionally this census on should mark the highest count and from here the number normally goes down. Last year it continued to rise for three more weeks.
February 12: Gray whale census on February 12:
506 baby gray whales + 672 adults = 1178 total gray whales.
The population inside the lagoon continues to grow steadily. The baby whale count is now one of the higher ever recorded, although a long way from last year's record count of more than 1,100.
I took a group of 16 whale watchers and two guides out to the area known as Zona 3 or Punta Mariscal. This was the first day in two weeks with no wind. The wind storm that has been blasting away at the lower Baja Peninsula for 10 days has calmed. The sky was clear and the temperature was very comfortably warm, reaching 80 degrees around 1 pm.
Our group today included three children ages 10 to 16. As usual the kids acted like little whale magnets and several baby whales came near our boats. Many in our group had the opportunity to reach out and touch or pet these friendly and curious gray whales. A family from Australia brought their 3 sons along. See my video clip (at right) of all 3 petting the same whale at the same time!
Here in Mexico there is no regulation against touching a friendly whale that comes to your officially permitted whale watching boat. This is much different than in the USA and Canada where people can be fined if they touch any marine mammal.
January 31, 2013:
The fourth gray whale census was completed at Ojo de Liebre today. The results are clear. This will be another huge migration year. There were 499 babies counted (double normal level at peak count) and a total of 1,179 adult and babies combined. My prediction of 1,500 might be proved wrong. I predict this is going to be a GREAT YEAR for gray whales in Baja.
—Keith Jones, Baja Jones Adventure Travel