from Observation Post #2
Baja California, Mexico
21, 2008: Census: At
the moment there are about 50 whales in the lagoon, reports
Johnny Friday of Baja
Ecotours. He sent the season's final reports and photos
from guide/naturalist Adrienne DeLiso, who has now "migrated"
back to the U.S.
the census data (handout) after
reading her recent reports:
30, 2008: Whales
are really starting to make their way out of the lagoon.
counted 47 Cow/Calf
pairs (94) and only 14 singles. This totals 108 whales in the
lagoon. Babies are huge! Many times guests cannot tell the difference
between the Mama and Baby. Babies are still rolling on mom,
and being quite rambunctious at times. A favorite game for them
with our boats is to stay just out of reach for folks to pet
them; they seem to enjoy being the center of attention! They
are spending a lot more time away from Mom these days and we
have seen many babies playing together with moms near by. We
have had amazing days with two or even four pairs of whales around
the pangas, playing and interacting with each other
and with us. We have noted some of the earlier babies we spent
with are gone. Many are so big and more capable; it
be long until they too head out on their first northern migration.
The time has also come for me to say goodbye to the whales and
head north myself. It’s been incredible. I hope to see
them again next year! Adrienne
about spring training for the babies. >>
of whales have taken off for the journey north this
past week. Our census reported
172 whales in the lagoon: 62 cow/calf pairs and the rest singles.
We are not seeing much mating
activity any more. We are seeing a lot more feeding (really snacking) than in
the last couple of months. We watched two adult whales feed in the shallows near
the reef the other day. They were in about 10 feet of water. They didn’t
seem to mind our Panga, gently floating along beside them. They were
sides with one pectoral flipper and part of a fluke exposed. Then gently they
would roll up and breathe, then roll back on their side. It was so peaceful to
It was one of those rare almost windless days.
See photo at right ( left side is pectoral flipper, right side is part of fluke).
seeing lots of "friendlies" – almost every day! Adrienne
10, 2008: Hello from San Ignacio Lagoon! We had an interesting experience
yesterday with a very “rambunctious” baby whale.
She came to the boat for some interaction and let everyone pet
her then she proceeded to spin our boat very quickly round and
round! Some of the guests were frightened by her strength and
how fast we were spinning! She was having a lot of fun doing
this. Suddenly mom came and was if she scolded baby and took
her away. Off they swam and we didn’t see them again the
rest of the day. Babies are getting bigger and stronger. They
are more comfortable coming to the boats and can be quite the
attention hogs! Their flukes are getting so big! In the beginning
they were cute floppy little flukes; now they are strong and
powerful! (See photos, right.) Adrienne
5, 2008: Guide/naturalist Adrienne writes about
a thin mom and her new calf:
from San Igancio Lagoon! We have had some crazy north winds
that prevented up from going out for a whole day. The lagoon
was officially closed to whale watching, which is for the safety
of both whales and people. Since then it's been wonderful:
warm, beautiful, and less windy than normal.
are seeing more friendly
week. One new cow/calf pair that I had not seen before
are very interested in the boat, yet would not
come close enough to touch. Sometimes, I prefer these encounters
as the whales circle and the baby plays with the boat, tossing
its head up out of the water and checking us out. . .then abruptly
swimming back to mom, and then repeating. This mom was very
skinny and has scars from her dorsal hump back into her knuckles.
are most likely tooth-rake marks from an Orca (see
She looked too thin, but this is often par for the course,
as a mom loses up to 30% of her fat from the time she travels
pregnant from the feeding grounds in the Bering Sea south to
the breeding and calving lagoons here. Then calving and feeding
also takes its toll on mom, who has not eaten a significant
amount of food since summer. This whale has also been seen
in the lagoon, before
according to the local Panga (boat) drivers. I will
send her photo to Cascadia Research in Washington for a proper
We are still seeing lots of mating and courting, and like every
thing else it began a little later and is carrying into
March. Lots of dolphins in the lagoon as well, with daily
bow riding from these highly intelligent and curious creatures!
1, 2008: Guide/naturalist Adrienne writes about a surge
in numbers and the lateness of this season's
Our new census comes in at 223 whales in the lagoon! This is
better than last year at this same time. This is great news!
More whales, more activity; we are seeing mating behavior everywhere!
Yesterday we were watching several whales mating and at one point,
one of the whales did a huge tail slap! The sound it made across
the water was amazing. It was a pretty large fluke, most likely
Today our group saw what they believed was a pregnant female.
She was huge and unusually shaped and hung out with the boat
for a long time. She didn’t
let anyone touch her, but she seemed to like the company. This would
be kind of a late baby, but we are seeing lots of late behavior this year.
with our La Nina, everything is a little later this year.
Yesterday and also today, we saw about 1000 + cormorants roosting along one
of the sandbars. It's a sign of
a very healthy ecosystem here in the lagoon, thanks to the great management!
We will continue to hope our numbers keep going up with the new census next
27, 2008: Guide/naturalist
Adrienne writes more
about some especially friendly cow/calf pairs and single whales
in the lagoon:
have been seeing lots more whales in the lagoon. You can hardly
look any direction
without seeing a whale spout or two. We have had some extreme
tides and when the wind is blowing NW and the tide is flooding,
it seems to make the whales a bit more active as we see lots
of spy hopping and breaching too.
have at least three super friendly cow/calf pairs and a few
single friendlys as
well. We are seeing lots of mating activity — splashing,
pectoral flippers and flukes a-flying! We even had a possibly
use our boat as a block to her suitors!
We are watching the census and hoping the numbers continue
to rise. We are at about 155 whales in our lagoon. We hope
well above 200 in the coming weeks! Adrienne
20, 2008: Guide/naturalist Adrienne writes about a
wonderful mother whale and her baby, Katy 2.5:
We have had some wonderful interactions
with a few different cow/calves in the lagoon. In one pair
we call the calf "'Katy 2.5." This was because every
time we were in the boat named Katy 2, this cow/calf
pair would come to the boat. By the end of the week we had
guests fighting over who would ride in Katy 2 because
this boat was the magic whale attracter!
Baby "Katy 2.5" is about 5 weeks
just full of life. She teases us by staying just out of reach
as guests hang over the boat and try to pet her. Then she
will suddenly lunge forward with her seemingly large grin,
her eyes bright and locked on the boat and people she is flirting
She is a joy to watch and interact with. Mom is a bit shy and
keeps close tabs on baby but mom once in a while comes in for
some pets too.
It’s amazing to see the close bond between mother and
baby. We all are moved at how the baby whales slide across mom’s
back and are constantly touching mom. Sometimes when the baby
is at the side of the boat, mom is just
under the surface, watching with a cautious eye. We have watched
this same mom/calf pair when it was time for them to move
on; suddenly mom porpoised out of the water, dove with
her huge fluke next to the boat, then breached only once just
a little way out from the boats. Such an incredible display
of strength and protection for her calf! We all were in awe
of the power and beauty of this whale.
Camp life has been fun with lots of wonderful guests. But Baja
is a lot colder than many of the guests anticipated,
and folks are needing their sleeping bags plus two blankets! Adrienne
20: How many whales in this nursery lagoon? Here's
the count so far! (Add the numbers to get the totals. (Hint:
How many whales in a cow/calf pair?)
here to check your totals, and to compare with 2007, 2006,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 seasons.
San Ignacio, Baja
are those marks on this gray whale?
fin (left) and fluke (right) as the whales peacefully
roll to breathe.
Photo Adrienne DeLiso
flukes grow stronger!
Photo Adrienne DeLiso
2.5" and Mom
Photo Adrienne DeLiso