Cabo is located on the southernmost point of Baja California’s peninsula, and one of the main reasons for its great biodiversity, especially regarding aquatic species, is that it is located in the middle of three ocean currents between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, which favors the attraction of whales of different types. They come to breed in wintertime, and for the sun and fun! Great numbers of whales come in droves and swim thousands of miles. There are shallow protected bays that are used by pregnant females for calving and for nursing.
The official season for whale watching is set every year by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Mexico’s environment ministry), but regularly it is between December to April; around May they begin to migrate back to Alaska, but you can spot some good whales in Spring also. Even though we have no control over nature, and it can change suddenly, the chances of seeing whales in Cabo during the whole season are really high, approximately 90% to 95%. Of course, whales are wild creatures, and there are no guarantees. A number of factors affect the number of whales that you can spot every day or in the proximity with which you can get to observe them. Sometimes you only will see some tails in the distance, other times, you will be lucky enough to observe them very closely and feel that you ALMOST touch them.
There are different types of whales that you can spot around Cabo, let us give you the highlights of the biggest stars: humpbacks, blue whales, and gray whales.
For Humpbacks, the peak season to spot them is late December to late January. When February comes, you will be fortunate to see baby humpbacks!
Humps are easy to identify with their unique long flippers (up to 15 ft. long, longest “arms” in the animal world), and when they dive, they hump their backs.
The warm and sweet waters around the Baja are perfect nurseries for calves. After 11 months of pregnancy, the one-ton newborn is fed with rich and thick as yogurt milk that makes it grow fast! (growing up to 45kg a day.)
They are appreciated for their aerial exhibitions and their sensual behaviors during the courtship that leave anyone open-mouthed. The males compete for the love of the females and are even capable of hoarding them to block their rivals, also they make bubble screens to hide them from others. They are able to fight, slap with the tail and jump on the back of their rival (have you heard of Mexican wrestling? Lol). They protect them so much because they have traveled a very long way to have this opportunity. Humpback whales can travel great distances and the ones we can observe during the season in Cabo come from the Pacific Northwest.
The gray whale is the one that travels the farthest, coming from the Arctic feeding grounds, where they feed on small shrimp-like amphipods, fatten up for winter, and the head south to our surroundings. You will identify them by their marbled gray and white hide, rough with patches of barnacles and even orange whale lice growing on their heads. Know as the friendliest of whales, usually, they come close to the boats to say hello, poking their heads straight up out of the water.
The blue whale is the largest animal that ever lived on Earth, and they also come for the season in Cabo because of the krill-rich waters. They grow up to 100 ft. long and they don’t have a predictable migration pattern, so we do not know for sure where they come from every winter. Among its special features, they are the loudest of whales, because they have to communicate across the farthest seas, and their low-frequency sounds can travel hundreds of miles.
But they are not the only ones that you are going to see. They join the species that live here year rounds such as sperm whales and fin whales, but there are thirty-two species of cetacea in our waters, including dolphins.
The best time to whale watching is really early in the morning when the sea is calm and quiet, also the whales! There are different tours offered to see them, and if you have any questions, don’t be shy 🙂 But here are some recommendations in case you are going to experience this. Use eco-friendly sunscreen, bring a hat with a strap (also sunglasses), put on light layers, sometimes is windy during mornings, a raincoat if you don’t want to end soaked wet, and maybe a fast shutter speed camera so you don’t miss anything.