The Whales Have Returned!

The Whales Have Returned!

December 15 marked the official start of the whale watching season in Los Cabos, the beautiful Land’s End destination that also happens to be one of the best places in the world to see whales.

Each year in early autumn, hundreds of whales migrate from the frigid waters of the Arctic Sea to the warm, calm waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula.

These magnificent creatures complete a one-way journey of nearly 5,000 miles by mid-December, although there were many early arrivals this year. Female whales, impregnated the year before, are usually the first to appear. The males and younger whales arrive soon after. Their six-month sojourn is the longest known migration of any mammal on earth.

Awaiting these long-distance swimmers are the sheltered bays and secluded lagoons of Baja California Sur. Nutrient-rich waters, ideal salinity and balmy weather make the peninsula’s coastline the perfect place for whales to socialize, mate and birth their calves. Once born, these big babies (averaging 1.5 tons) need to be taught how to swim and survive in the ocean. Calves stay close to their mothers for up to one year before weaning.

Of the 11 species of whales found worldwide, eight venture to Los Cabos, including humpback, gray and blue. The most popular are the humpback whales, which routinely thrust themselves out of the water in acrobatic leaps. The fifth largest of the great whales, the humpback’s enormous, grayish-black body is flanked by huge pectoral flippers that grow up to one-third the size of their body length. (Female humpbacks average 48 feet in length). These highly maneuverable pectoral fins are used to turn, steer and balance. Along with their powerful tail flukes, these flippers enable the humpbacks to surge out of the water in fantastic, full-body breaches.

Visitors of The Beach Club or the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica or Sunset Beach Resorts have already observed humpback whales breaching, spouting and frolicking close to shore. Players at Quivira Golf Club, home of a spectacular Jack Nicklaus-designed course that skirts sheer cliffs high above the sea, have also been spotting tail-bobbing, flipper-snapping whales from the layout’s elevated tees, greens and fairways.

For visitors who want an up-close look at these awe-inspiring creatures, concierge can provide information on whale watching tours departing from the Cabo San Lucas marina.

Among the top outfitters is Cabo Adventures, which is currently offering a 30% discount on its two-hour Whale Watching Cabo Photo Safari. Specialized inflatable speedboats are used to get passengers in the vicinity of whales quickly. A hydrophone on board enables adventurers of all ages to hear the whales “singing.” Male humpback whales are especially vocal during the mating season, their “songs” a baffling medley of moans and groans, squeaks and snores. It’s been theorized the males are serenading potential female partners.

In addition, the company’s tour guides share interesting facts about these magnificent ocean dwellers, which can attain a weight of 80,000 pounds and have a life expectancy of 80 years. The experience of witnessing these sea giants at play as they spout, splash and breach in gravity-defying arcs is unforgettable.

Undecided? Book a whale watching cruise in January or February. Nine out of 10 tours encounter whales during these two months.

The whales make their way south at an average speed of four miles per hour. They travel continuously during the day and on moonlit nights, resting for a few hours on dark, moonless evenings.

Nearly hunted to extinction but now enjoying a revival (there are an estimated 68,500 humpback whales worldwide), these majestic creatures fatten up on plankton in high latitude polar waters before embarking on their journey to the subtropics.