Mother whale 'lifts' calf to see humans
San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California, Mexico, is part of the largest wildlife refuge in Latin America and home to countless species of marine life: harbor seals, California sea lions, northern elephant seals, four species of endangered sea turtles and more. But it's the gray whales that get all of the attention -- and sometimes give it.
Northern Pacific gray whales, once hunted nearly to extinction, have made a remarkable recovery in population, partly due to the protection offered in San Ignacio Lagoon. The lagoon, recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a World Heritage site, is the most important breeding ground and nursery of the eastern subpopulation of these whales.
With careful management, the Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino -- the name encompassing the entire area of which San Ignacio Lagoon is part -- is thriving. Overfishing, evaporation salt production and uncontrolled tourism are problems that the Mexican government has successfully worked to mitigate over the last several decades.
As a result, San Ignacio Lagoon is a dream destination for whale enthusiasts. As shown in the video below, it's not unknown for mother and calf pairs to come close enough to touch -- it is legal to touch the whales in San Ignacio -- and appear to be very curious about what sort of fish these skiffs might be. In this case, the mother whale "lifts" her calf to the water's surface; was she helping her baby breathe, or giving it a better look at the delighted tourists?
Who is more curious about whom, the whales or the humans? Please SHARE this story of wildlife interaction.