She had never seen me before. I had, however been observing her for some time. She moved closer bringing the child with her. No fear. No reluctance. She urged the child forward. As the child drew near I got down on my knees and waited. Finally both mother and child were there. I think that I held my breath as I reached forward and gently ran my hand over the child’s head.
My first close encounter with a 40 foot long 25 ton gray whale was beyond anything that I had expected.
I was with several friends and other folks that had come to the San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja Sur Mexico to get up-close and personal with the gray whale. We were aboard a traditional Mexican fishing boat, the Panga. A twenty-foot long open boat with seating for twelve. Our licensed driver/guide had carefully maneuvered the open craft close to the basking gray whales that were here after their long migration from the arctic waters of Alaska. Here they both mated and calved.
For over two hours we were amazed and entertained by the whales. We would ooh and Ahhaah as they would come straight out of the water and look around, then gently slid back into the lagoon. The guide called this spy-glassing. We watched as they breached, landing on their back with a great splash, but the most amazing thing was how they related to us, humans. Many, many times during the afternoon we humans reached over the gunnels of the small fishing boat and rubbed the head of both baby and mother. They would roll over on their side and that great eye would look up at you belaying an intelligence that you could only imagine.
As the panga skimmed across the water toward the Ecocenter where we had started earlier in the day, I was wondering if momma whale was saying to her child. “Those were humans, a relatively new species. They are still learning.”
Submitted by Geary Ritchie