Photo by Doug Balcomb
an AMAZING experience - visiting the Gray whales in Baja~
VISIT THE GRAY WHALES OF BAJA'S SAN IGNACIO LAGOON WITH ORCA NETWORK IN 2019!
Join our 10th annual five-day Expedition to Baja to visit the friendly Gray Whales of San Ignacio Lagoon MARCH 4 - 8, 2019
. Trips fill up fast, so please send in your registration form and deposit to reserve your space. If you are not ready to commit but are considering joining the 2018 trip to visit gray whales in San Ignacio Lagoon, please email Orca Network
to be notified of availability of spaces.
Cost of the trip: $3395 + $105 tourist card & Biosphere Reserve entrance fees = $3500 Total Cost (includes travel from San Diego to San Ignacio Lagoon and back, and all room and lodging while at San Ignacio Lagoon except a tip for the staff at Campo Cortez). Lodging in San Diego can be booked through the hotel we depart from, which offers a group rate of ~$100/night for a double.
The 2019 trip to San Ignacio Lagoon reservation form
Read about "Where Itís Okay to Pet the Whales"
, Story and Photographs by Thomas P. Peschak, National Geographic photographer, August 25, 2017.
Click here to see photos from our 2013 trip to San Ignacio Lagoon
, Baja, Mexico to visit the Gray Whales in one of their birthing lagoons, and learn about the amazing ecosystems of Baja's Biosphere Reserve. The trip helped raise much needed funding for Orca Network's Sighting Network and education programs, while providing an opportunity to watch and learn about the gray whales on the southern end of their migration, and experience the "Friendly Grays" of Baja.
For photos from some of our previous trips, visit these links:
Trip and camp info and photos from earlier gray whale trips to Baja
2015 Susan Berta photos
2014 James Cosgrove photos
More about our trip to San Ignacio Lagoon:
The wonderful crew at the camp share their knowledge of the beautiful Baja Biosphere Reserve, teaching us about the marine and intertidal life, desert plant life, and more - along with two whale watches daily for amazing encounters with Gray whales. The moms and calves share precious moments with us, and we'll observe spyhopping, breaching, mating, and other behaviors those of us up north don't often observe.
Then there is the unbelievable experience of the small percentage of Grays in the lagoon that are known as the "Friendlies" - the whales that approach the boats for friendly encounters that are indescribable.The mothers bring their young calves up to be rubbed and splashed by the delighted people on board the small boats, or pangas, in the lagoon. "We've had occasions where a mother gray would push her calf right up to the boat, holding the calf between her body and the boat," said Susan Berta of Orca Network. "Even though we've experienced this phenomenon for several years in a row now, I still find it difficult to believe the whales exhibit this behavior", Berta stated.
"The only word to describe this experience is TRUST. The Gray whale moms show an enormous amount of trust when they bring their babes over to our boats. The young calves show trust when they nudge their round noses up into our faces. And we humans, who suddenly feel very small when Mom (all 45 - 50' of her) is right under our small boat, her head on one side, her flukes on the other - have to trust that the whales won't harm us. One flick of her flukes, and mom could toss our boat into the air - but they are as gentle with us as we are with them. We may not speak the same language, but there is a shared spirit of love and one-ness when you are in the waters with these whales".
This is not an experience you will have in US waters, where it is illegal to approach or touch a marine mammal. But in the birthing lagoons of Baja, these whales have been approaching the small Mexican pangas for several decades, seeking out human touch, and this eco-tourism industry has helped communities who are finding it increasingly difficult to survive on declining fisheries.
"We were very impressed with how the local communities operate and regulate the whale watching eco-tourism in San Ignacio Lagoon, and feel it is an incredible model for sustainable whale watching and tourism in a remote and pristine area."
For more information, contact Orca Network at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-331-3543. We hope you can join us on this year's adventure - space is limited, so make your reservation now!
Susan Berta & Howard Garrett,
Orca Network, Freeland, WA