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Calving season of the devil fish

74 whales in Laguna Ojo de Liebre

Gray whale calf in Laguna Ojo de Liebre, March 2018. (credit: Shari Bondy)
Gray whale calf in Laguna Ojo de Liebre, March 2018. (credit: Shari Bondy)

Once known as “devil fish" for attacking skiffs used by whalers that hunted them, gray whales are now viewed as docile, sometimes attention-seeking creatures by those who have been up close during whale-watch trips to calving lagoons.

Whale Fest

The three lagoons are in Baja California Sur, on the Pacific side of the peninsula: Ojo de Libre lagoon, near Guerrero Negro at the top of the state; San Ignacio Lagoon just to the south of Ojo de Libre; and Magdalena Bay, the southern-most calving lagoon near the bottom of the peninsula.

All calving grounds are a long drive (12 to 18 hours from San Diego) but can all be reached by vehicle within a few hours from the international airport in Loreto, which is a two hour flight from San Diego or Tijuana.

The grays’ migration will continue through the next few months until the calving for the year is done. From Shari Bondy of Whale Magic Tours, January 17: “According to the census, they counted 74 whales in Laguna Ojo de Liebre. 21 mothers with their calves and 32 solitary whales. In San Ignacio there are five whales. The migration seems to be a bit late this season, but more whales are coming into the lagoons every day.”

If going to the lagoons is out of reach, there are several options to see migrating grays from San Diego through winter and spring. As the whales tend to cruise the coastline for food, sightings from coast are common.

To learn about gray whale migration, attend Whale Fest at Birch Aquarium. The event is mostly tailored for youth, though there are family activities, including an opportunity to meet Scripps Oceanography scientists and join a special whale watching cruise.

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Gray whale calf in Laguna Ojo de Liebre, March 2018. (credit: Shari Bondy)
Gray whale calf in Laguna Ojo de Liebre, March 2018. (credit: Shari Bondy)

Once known as “devil fish" for attacking skiffs used by whalers that hunted them, gray whales are now viewed as docile, sometimes attention-seeking creatures by those who have been up close during whale-watch trips to calving lagoons.

Whale Fest

The three lagoons are in Baja California Sur, on the Pacific side of the peninsula: Ojo de Libre lagoon, near Guerrero Negro at the top of the state; San Ignacio Lagoon just to the south of Ojo de Libre; and Magdalena Bay, the southern-most calving lagoon near the bottom of the peninsula.

All calving grounds are a long drive (12 to 18 hours from San Diego) but can all be reached by vehicle within a few hours from the international airport in Loreto, which is a two hour flight from San Diego or Tijuana.

The grays’ migration will continue through the next few months until the calving for the year is done. From Shari Bondy of Whale Magic Tours, January 17: “According to the census, they counted 74 whales in Laguna Ojo de Liebre. 21 mothers with their calves and 32 solitary whales. In San Ignacio there are five whales. The migration seems to be a bit late this season, but more whales are coming into the lagoons every day.”

If going to the lagoons is out of reach, there are several options to see migrating grays from San Diego through winter and spring. As the whales tend to cruise the coastline for food, sightings from coast are common.

To learn about gray whale migration, attend Whale Fest at Birch Aquarium. The event is mostly tailored for youth, though there are family activities, including an opportunity to meet Scripps Oceanography scientists and join a special whale watching cruise.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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