Training for Babies
by Naturalist Caroline Armon, Baja Ecotours, Laguna
I am noticing some patterns of behavior from my years
in San Ignacio Lagoon. The whales tend to swim against whichever
way the tide is flowing. Perhaps
it feels good against their skin. It may even knock off some whale lice.
It is definitely endurance swimming practice for the calves before
the big swim north. Swimming against the tide makes the calves
Fin. See the outline of the bones?
We start to see feeding behavior in March. The calves will still
nurse for a few months, but they are learning how to find food. The
moms show the calves how to “plow” up
the lagoon bottom where the water is about 10 feet deep. It’s
amazing to see those pectoral fins and tail flukes sticking up
in the air
slowly along, "grazing" on the bottom. There is very little whale
food in these warm waters, but the babies were doing a great job.
tell by the mud circles they left
on the water, like a fluke print.
calves are now very active and agile! They are getting bigger,
so I now need to look twice before I say "that’s a calf" or "that's
a juvenile!" I still struggle to describe the thrill when a
mom presents, pushes, or even lifts her baby up to us. Magic can
happen here in the lagoon!
Journal or Discussion Question
do you think new mothers and calves remain in the lagoons for several
weeks longer than the other whales?