Ahab isn’t the only person who gets to look a whale eye to eye. Head to Magdalena Bay where you can have a close encounter with a Gray Whale – so close you can pet it. If there is such a thing as being too close to a whale while whale watching, this might have been it.
The Gray Whale migration covers 10,000 miles from feeding grounds in Alaska’s Bering Sea to mating/nursing grounds in Mexico. It’s the longest trek of any mammal. And for some unknown reason, when they arrive in Mexico’s Magdalena Bay, they are in a good mood. Maybe it’s the sex, or the joy of being a new mother – who knows; but they are in such a great mood that they like to interact with you.
In Magdalena Bay, Gray Whales Approach You
There are regulations around approaching the whales in the bay keeping boats at a distance (300 feet), however it’s difficult to know what to do when the whales approach you. Apparently the whales have no rules to follow.
We were greeted by new moms and their babies as they spyhopped (when a whale pokes their head above surface to get a better view), swam underneath our boat rubbing up against it, and simply popping their head out of the water at the side of the boat and allowing people to pet them. I was absolutely astonished at this behavior.
“I think it’s the whales way of saying, we forgive you,” our guide explained. She practically had tears in her eyes as she talked. “We’ve hunted them for so long and treated them poorly, this is their forgiveness.” She felt this was the mother’s way of teaching their young what a boat and humans were; showing them the world in a way.
It’s no surprise that the World Wildlife Fund supports Gray Whale research in the area.
“Intensive whaling has drastically reduced the population, yet those in the Baja California region have an unusual tendency to approach whale-watching boats and allow holidaymakers to touch them and scratch their tongues,” said the World Wildlife Fund.
The calm, warm waters are a safe place for young whales to be free from predators, like killer whales. Locals actually refer to the gray whales as “friendly ones” since thy have the tendency to approach whale-watching boats.
If petting a whale in the wild is on your bucket list, then head to Baja Mexico and Magdalena Bay. It was one of the most spectacular animal encounters I’ve ever experienced.
See the ‘Friendly Ones’ During the Gray Whale Migration in Mexico
The whale paparazzi
A family affair
Look a whale in the eye…this one was swimming right up to our boat!
Everyone needs a little love …even whales.
And if you love whales, don’t miss the Blue Whale Festival Loreto Mexico 2nd week in February.