California - Mexico
An icon of hope and survival:
During the first expeditions to the southern part of the B2B region, Florian concentrated on the most important stop-overs for whales in southern Baja California. The peninsula offers only few protected areas where the Grey Whale can find calm waters to give birth and feed its young before returning to the north.
Ojo de Liebre, San Ignacio and Magdalena Bay are the most important calving lagoons for grey whales in the Baja Peninsula, and documenting them in these places was key to understand the importance of maintaing the sanctuaries protected. Magdalena Bay is famous for its large complex system of mangroves that shelters large stocks of fish, many resident and migratory birds and offers a unique sanctuary for hundreds of grey whales.
And it is here where only few centuries ago Grey Whales were slaughtered without mercy, and were brought to the brink of extinction.
The grey whale has a along story of survival, it represents an icon of hope for the future of other whale populations. It is difficult to believe that today, one can glide over the waters of Magdalena Bay and have close encounters with this enigmatic, gentle creatures.
One early morning, right before sunrise, Florian rides on a panga and goes searching for whales. Soon he realizes, it was his lucky day. A calm windless morning welcomes him over the water as they approach the mouth of the bay. There, he tells me, blows of many whales fill the horizon in a unique harmony of silence and blow.
They turned off the engines, drifting quietly, awaiting for the whales. And just like that, after a short period of time the whales swam toward the boat. One whale soon became three… and more! Up to six whales were counted surrounding the panga. With an inquisitive behavior that makes of these mammals the most sociable and curious of all, the whales went gliding sideways right below the boat to take a closer look. Swinging their flukes slowly, they approach the boat with care.
Once called “devilish” because of their fierce behavior while protecting their young during the massive hunting of the 1800’s, it is astounding that today this incredible being is able to forget -or shall I say, forgive- our terrible behavior and reward us once again with their trust.
There are many ecological issues that could threaten the future of Magdalena Bay, thus jeopardizing the future of the whales. The most concerning one is the large scale housing development the peninsula has experienced in the last decade. If it continues to grow at today’s rate, the bay might be facing serious ecological problems and whales could be confronting difficult challenges to survive.
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