San Ignacio Lagoon…….A whale of a day!

Dear F&F,
January 22
We were up early and Ardys of s/v Odyssey, who speaks very good Spanish, hailed Ysidro on VHF radio channel 16 and arranged to have two fisherman bring us to the Lagoon. The anchorage was very protected and the conditions were calm so after locking every possible hatch & locker, we felt comfortable to leave the boat unattended. We took a 45 minute thrill ride to the lagoon with our driver Caeser and his marinero (deck hand). We transferred into the panga of Noel who was to be our guide. At this
time of year, the season is not yet at it\’s peak and so there were only two other pangas in the lagoon with us. San Ignacio is a Federal and international biosphere and the locals take protecting the whales very seriously. San Ignacio is one of three major whale calving areas on the Baja California coast. The others are Scammons Lagoon (north of Turtle Bay) and Magdelena Bay where we will be headed soon. Scammons is not safe for boats to travel as the coast is very shoaly and is not easily navigated.
San Ignacio would be a great opportunity to see the whales close up. The Lagoon is \”L\” shaped and each leg is about 10 miles per side. The locals are only allowed to take us in the entrance area which is about one square mile. They told us they get up to 300 whales inside the Lagoon, but don\’t want to disturb the Mothers and their young calves. There is a boundary where the pangas do not cross. So if the whales are interested, they come out to check out the pangas full of tourists.

At first, we saw up to 10 adult whales just basically cruising the Lagoon. Finally, we saw a Mother with a calf our guide told us was only 2-3 days old. At 10 feet long and probably 1000 lbs it was still a newborn. Since the calf was so young, he was still timid and stuck very close to Mom. We could see where propeller blades had hit the mother\’s back in the past, but fortunately she seemed to have completely healed from the experience. The baby\’s skin is dark gray and smooth, the Mother\’s,
crusted with barnacles. Eventually we saw another Mother with her calf. Baby #2 was a few weeks old and VERY interested in playing panga. This was the highlight of the day – the baby whale came right up to the boat and all of us aboard were able to \”pet the baby whale\”! Even Mom came up for a rub and to rub herself on the panga to get those pesky barnacles off her back. This was a wonderful experience. We got some reasonable video and good photos which we will post on the web when we next get
internet access. We took the 45 minute panga ride back to our boats, downloaded the photos, watched the video and recounted what a unique experience we had all had this magical day……