It was Julie’s pick where we’d go for our Father-Daughter Trip.
Julie has a thing about petting whales.
That’s where people pet whales. So, last month we were sailing Baja’s balmy Sea of Cortez.
Whales are magnificent animals – highly intelligent, immense air-breathing mammals who evolved from their homes on land into a life in the high seas. The largest whales we saw were the Blue Whales, which exceed 100 tons in weight. Our guide told us a Blue Whale’s tongue weighs more than an African elephant.
The Humpback Whale, which can reach 40-45 tons in size, is the acrobat, known for breaching the water, as in the photo above. The breach is followed by a body splash, which sends water spraying high into the air as if there had been an explosion. Their flukes – their tails – can be 12 feet long and they have the largest flippers of any of the whales.
The male Humpbacks are also the singing whales. The whale songs we hear on TV are exclusively their songs.
Humpbacks are also cooperative hunters, and have developed what is known as “bubble-net feeding.” The team of cooperating Humpbacks swim in a large circle around fish targeted as their prey and blow bubbles that creates a cylindrical wall around the trapped fish, who swim to the surface to escape, where the Humpbacks are waiting to feed on them.
The whales for petting, however, are the 35-40 ton Gray Whales.
As do the Humpbacks, the Gray Whales migrate in the winter more than 6,000 miles from the Arctic to the warm waters of Baja’s Sea of Cortez where they breed. Then, after breeding, they return to the Arctic for the summer, returning to Baja the next winter to have their calves.
Neither the Humpbacks nor the Grey Whales eat during their winter southern stay, and they lose about one-third of their body weight in the process. The milk they feed their calves is thick, like cheese.
The Gray Whales are friendly and curious.
The energetic calves seemed to love to visit our zodiacs launched to cruise among them.
In this photo, the calf slides off its mother’s head, playfully poking itself out of the ocean, teasing the begging arms of our zodiac travelers. Fortunately, nobody fell in.
Photos simply can’t express whale-petting emotions. But hopefully, the video we include in Extra Credits, Whale Splashing in Baja, comes close. The action starts about 4 minutes into the video. Splashing, it’s said, attracts the whales.
Whale Splashing in Baja [15 minutes – the action starts about 4 minutes into the video]
Our book, Wanderlust, was shipped from Korea, to arrive in time for our May 7th Book Signing Event. If you are in Tampa Bay May 7th and can make the breakfast, please join us. We will be sending out invitations very soon. All the proceeds from Wanderlust, and the event, go to charity.
If you click on the photo below, the click will open the 8-minute WEDU/PBS video about Wanderlust.