The Gray Whale Nurseries
Click on this map
for details about the four gray whale nursery lagoons on Mexico's Baja
Peninsula. Whales arrive in the lagoons from early December through late
January. Mothers and calves stay until April or even May. The lagoons
are like bus stations, with whales coming and going all through the winter
and early spring.
GUERRERO NEGRO/BLACK WARRIOR LAGOON
The northernmost of the four breeding and calving lagoons in Baja,
Guerrero Negro means "Black Warrior." This lagoon and the town
about 20 miles away are named for the Black Warrior, a whaling ship that
went down there in 1858. The world's largest salt production started on
Black Warrior Lagoon and later moved to the much larger Laguna Ojo de
LAGUNA OJO de LIEBRE
More than half the gray whale births take place in Laguna Ojo de Libre.
This lagoon receives the greatest number of whales in Baja California
every year. Formerly known as Scammon's Lagoon, this huge watery complex
is named for Captain Charles Scammon. Scammon charted many of these areas
in the mid-1800s as he hunted gray whales. UNESCO has named Laguna Ojo
de Liebre and Laguna San Ignacio a World Heritage Site because they are
important breeding and calving areas for the gray whale.
3) LAGUNA SAN IGNACIO
San Ignacio is about 500 miles south of San Diego, and 80 miles (120
km) south of Laguna Ojo de Liebre. It is 16 miles long and 3-4 miles wide,
and several hundred whales come and go throughout the mating and calving
season. San Ignacio is the only remaining calving and birthing lagoon
that is still undisturbed by human development. In March 2000, the Mexican
government vetoed plans to build a huge new salt production facility here.
Mexico's President Zedillo said the deciding factor was "the national
and world importance and the uniqueness of the Vizcaino
This is the southernmost nursery of Mexico's Baja California coast.
Fewer than 6% of the gray whale births occur here. Magdalena Bay is 180
miles (270 km) south of San Ignacio. Its waters are famous for the amount
of fish and seafood. Sportfishing is big business here, but whale watching
becomes the main attraction from January through March. This large bay
is not part of the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve.