February 10, 2020 7:42 pm

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Baja’s Eco Tourism:
a win-win for conservation and economy

by Carlos Pérez, Biologist at Cabo Trek

Over the past two decades, ecotourism has been valued as a fast-growing industry worldwide, observing this phenomenon in regions and entities with natural resources at hand, for controlled exposure to the general public in a low invasive manner. In addition to offering a recreational alternative to those who practice it and direct and indirect benefits to the communities where they are located, it fosters and creates social and economic incentives through its conservation. If we focus this type of tourism to the marine environment, several reports cite a spill of up to $ 50 billion in expenses, including activities such as diving, shark, whale and bird watching, as well as tours on kayaks, paddle and sport fishing in its capture and release modality.

In particular, whale watching in Baja California Sur has become a strong tourist product; the increase of national and foreign visitors, in addition to local families, who during the sighting season travel to various sites of this state to enjoy this natural spectacle, generates an important economic spill to these localities. Furthermore, some of these activities are tied with educational and research programs with several governmental and private institutions, in order to conduct data gathering and publish research results; playing a bridge role between scientific findings and dissemination of knowledge towards the general public.

Mexico lodges transiently or with established populations about 40% of the known species of cetaceans in the world; and the registration in our state of them, is approximately 30%. From this total, some of the most emblematic species are grey and humpback whales; every year, they migrate to Californian seas and low coasts for reproductive and birthing purposes. Some sites considered sanctuaries for these animals are Guerrero Negro and the San Ignacio Lagoon; both belonging to the Vizcaíno biosphere reserve; Puerto San Carlos in Magdalena Bay and the protected area of flora and fauna of Cabo San Lucas in Los Cabos municipality.

So if you find yourself close to these places and you are interested in witnessing an impressive natural show, do not hesitate and schedule a tour with one of the local operators in the area; just make sure it meets the legal requirements and licenses for this type of activity. In addition to witnessing the majesty of these giants, you will surely take back with you a great experience and a little knowledge about the subject, go ahead, dare and live it! 

Whale Facts:

By Alex Navarro

We are in the peak months of the whale season here in Baja, so to honor these majestic creatures I want to share with you some general facts about whales:

  • Whales belong to the order Cetacea, which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.
  • The word whale comes from the Old English word whael.
  • Whales live in all of the Earth’s oceans.
  • The closest living relative to whales is the hippopotamus. They diverged about 40 million years ago.
  • Whales are either toothed (Odontoceti) or have baleen (Mysticeti). A baleen is a comb-like fringe on the upper jaw of the whale used to filter food. Toothed whales feed mostly on fish, squid, other whales and marine mammals, and baleen whales mostly on plankton, small fish and crustaceans.
  • Whales are mammals, they produce milk, are warm blooded, have lungs for breathing and some even have small hairs.
  • Whales have a blowhole which they use to breathe, baleen whales have two, and toothed whales have one.
  • They have flippers and have tail fins called flukes that they use to propel themselves through the water. Most species of whales have a dorsal fin on their back.
  • The sperm whale is the largest toothed predator on Earth. The famous book Moby Dick tells the story of a Sperm whale and a fisherman.
  • The Blue whale, a baleen whale, is the largest whale of all. The Blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth.
  • The life spans of whales can be from 25 to 110 years, but some Bowhead whales live over 200 years.
  • A blue whale can weigh over 150,000 kilograms and be more than 25 meters in length.
  • Gestation period in whales can be from nine to 18 months and the calf can stay with the mother for up to one year or more
  • .Males usually mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years.
  • Calves are regularly born in the spring and summer months.
  • The heart of a Blue whale can weigh as much as 350 kilograms or be the size of a small car.
  • Some whales like the Beaked whale and Sperm whale can dive two to three kilometers deep for up to two hours or more.
  • The blubber in whales serves as an energy reserve and insulation.
  • Most whales, especially baleen whales, migrate long distances from their cold-water feeding grounds to warm-water breeding grounds each year. The longest confirmed migration is made by the Humpback whales that feed in the Antarctic waters and swim north to breed off Colombia and Panama.
  • Some whales can reach speeds of up to 20 knots.
  • Whales can jump high, or breach, out of the water. Whales also thrust their tails out of the water and slap the water's surface. They also communicate with each other using lyrical sounds and these sounds can be heard for many miles. The most complex songs and beautiful songs that include recognizable sequences of squeaks, grunts, and other sounds are from the male Humpback whales.
  • Whales are known to teach, learn, cooperate, scheme, and grieve.
  • It is thought that whales sleep with one half of their brain resting while the other half keeps them from drowning and aware of predators.

So that is a bit of general information about whales, but here in BAJA we are lucky to receive the beautiful Gray whales each year, therefore I would like to list some cool facts about them:

  • They migrate to Baja every year and their round-trip journey can be from 15,000-20,000 kilometers. And it takes them from five to eight weeks to reach the breeding sites.
  • There are two groups of Pacific Gray whales, the east and west groups.
  • The Gray whale spends a few months in the lagoons of Baja. Some spots are San Ignacio lagoon, Ojo de Liebre and Magdalena Bay. The migration begins around October and finishes about April. They choose these sites due to their warm and calm waters.
  • They usually travel in groups of two or three, at a speed of about three to five miles per hour, and submerge for about five minutes at a time, or for 15 minutes or longer to feed.
  • Gray whales can be 15 meters long and weigh 35 tons.
  • They are baleen whales and reach maturity at about eight or nine years old. And the females give birth to one calf about every two years.
  • Newborns can be five meters long and weigh 1000 kilograms.
  • Gray whales visit Baja every year to give birth.

Now is the perfect time to observe these beautiful animals of the sea. Their loving energy will make your vacation unforgettable and leave you with beautiful memories to last a lifetime.