Close Encounters with Gray Whales
The ocean churns as a 36-ton mammal swims up to the boat. With your arm plunged into the cool water, you await the touch of a California gray whale. Like a house cat craving a scratch on the head, the whale pushes its rubbery skin, rough with barnacles and battle scars from boats and orcas, against your palm. From January through March, hundreds of gray whales settle in Magdalena Bay, on the southwest coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. From their feeding grounds off the coast of Alaska, they’ve made one of the longest animal migrations—more than 5,000 miles—to mate, give birth, and raise their young here. Visitors who join local fishermen and outfitters in the bay are practically guaranteed to see whales, and the luckiest will encounter “friendlies,” including proud mothers who nudge their wrinkly black calves toward the surface.
Sea Kayak Adventures offers a new trip that combines gray whale sightings in Magdalena Bay with blue and fin whale watching in the Sea of Cortez. From $1,495. (800) 616-1943,
Photo by Tui de Roy/Minden Pictures. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue.