By | 2017-12-08T18:38:17+00:00 October 19th, 2017|

Wonderful Whales! Everything you need to know about Whale Watching in Cabo San Lucas

Georg Wolf

Whale Watching in Cabo San Lucas

While yachting and snorkeling are the most popular activities here, there’s another adventure you absolutely need to add to your to-do list:  Whale watching in Cabo San Lucas.

Whale watching here in Cabo is unlike anywhere else. The odds of whale sightings are huge.

You have a 90-95% chance to see whales while out on the water during whale watching season. Not only will you see them, the odds of experiencing close encounters with giant whales is high.

A little bit about the location and what brings these beautiful creatures here…

Cabo San Lucas is located on the southern tip of Baja California Peninsula which separates the Sea of Cortez from the Pacific Ocean. Whales take Pacific Ocean as their main route when traveling to and from their home here in Mexico and their feeding grounds in Alaska.

The meeting of Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez creates a junction, an area of concentration perfect for whale watching in Cabo San Lucas.

December is just around the corner. In Cabo, that brings the most awaited season, nope not Christmas — whale watching! Witness the ocean’s giant mammals in their natural habitat. Whale watching season in Cabo San Lucas is held during December 15 to April 15.

The world’s aquarium, Sea of Cortez is home to some giant whale species.

Cabo San Lucas has access to the Sea of Cortez, the richest body of water in the world. Sea of Cortez is home to 900 fish species, 2,000 species of marine invertebrates and 32 types of marine mammals. Among the sea creatures that grace this sanctuary are giant whale species.

Humpback whales are either dark gray or black in color with white patches on their stomach and knobs (tubercles). They have two blowholes located on the top of their heads.

Cabo San Lucas is a bottleneck for Humpback whales wintering in the Sea of Cortez, making it a great location for both watching and studying the whale species. They are the most commonly encountered whale species in Cabo. Humpback whales are known to be generally curious. They often approach boats, coming up alongside the boat or even swimming beneath it.

Gray whales take on a mottled gray color. Their skins are often covered with many scratches, blotches, scars, parasites and other organisms giving off a crusty appearance.

Over 97% of the Gray whale population migrate to the small bays of Baja California Peninsula every winter, making it a great opportunity for Gray Whale watching. They are the second most commonly encountered whale species on Cabo whale watching tours. Gray whales are often seen diving out of the waters and sometimes they even approach boats.

Blue whales have a huge U-shaped head. They look blue underwater, but on the surface they have a mottled blue-gray color. Their bellies are usually pale white but can become yellowish due to the formation of algae.

The largest animal to have ever existed, Blue whales are rare visitors of Cabo San Lucas. They are often encountered during their migration between Alaska and Loreto. Even though we don’t meet Blue whales very often, they are still considered the third most common whale species encountered on whale watching tours.

Fin whales, the second largest animal are dark gray or brown on top and have a usually pale or yellowish brown belly. Their dorsal fins are way back on their body. Fin whales are rare to encounter on Cabo San Lucas Whale watching tours even though there is a year round population in the Sea of Cortez. Most populations of fin whales are migratory while some are resident populations.

Sperm whales are easily recognized with their squared-off head with dark or brownish gray skin and white markings around their lower jaw and underside. With luck, Sperm whales in Cabo San Lucas are encountered on days with calm conditions and much further offshore than other whale species mentioned here. They are often hunting in the deep ocean trenches. The Sperm whales we see in Cabo are usually in small groups of females and calves.

Killer whales are black and white with gray patch behind their dorsal fin. Killer whales can occasionally be seen near Cabo San Lucas. Unlike other whales, they do not follow an annual migration pattern. They travel to pursue any available food and are usually seen in food-hunting in groups.

Whale Cabo San Lucas

Jorge Vasconez

Why whales Migrate to Cabo

Every year, giant whale species travel back home to the waters of the Mexican coast in order to mate, give birth, nurse their calves and generally to spend time together. Some whale species like Gray Whales prefer to give birth in shallow protected coves and lagoons. The calves will then develop their survival skills in these lagoons. Other species such as Killer Whales travel to hunt for food. It is really a beautiful experience to see these giant mammals interact and play around with their pods — a group of 2 to 30 whales bonded together by biological reasons or through friendships.

The most ideal time for whale watching in Cabo San Lucas is from mid December to mid March.

SEMARNAT (Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources) sets December 15 to April 15 as the official whale watching season.

That gives you five months of whale watching glory!

The whale activity level is high from late December until late January with adult Humpback whales dominating the tours. By early February, there will be more encounters with baby Humpback whales together with their mothers. Their activity and energy will dominate tours until they start migrating north in March and April.

The Best Time of the Day For Whale Watching

Early morning is the quietest and calmest time of the day to watch whales. The whales seem to be more calm during this time of the day as well.

It is easier to find whales midday, when the sun has risen higher in the sky allowing us to see the water clearly. We typically see many whales mid day. Whales tend to get more active as the day progresses.

Afternoon marks the greatest level of whale activity of the day making it the best time for whale watching. Higher tide and greater wind and waves heightens the levels of whale activity.

Whale watching in Cabo San Lucas lets you witness whales in their natural habitat. You have the chance to see how whales behave in a way online photos can’t provide. Here are some behaviors you may witness.

Head slap, also called chin slap, occurs when a whale raises portion of it’s head out of the water and then forcefully crashes back down slapping on the water surface.

Tail slap happens when a whale, usually in a vertical position, lifts its tail out of the water and slaps it back down the water surface.

Flipper slap is when a whale lies on its side or back and raises one or both pectoral fins out of the water and slaps them on the water surface.

Blow, also known as spouting, is when a whale blows water from their blowholes at the top of its head. This is their way of breathing.

Breaching is when a whale leaps clear of the water revealing 40% – 90% of its body then turns on its side or back mid-air causing a large splash of water.

Peduncle throw happens when a whale pivots on its head and violently swings its tail and peduncle out of the water before crashing them back down with force. It is usually a part of whales’ mating activities.

Spyhop is when a whale lifts its head out of the water and then turn to look around before dropping back down in the water. They usually do this when they check out nearby whale watching boats. Whales can watch humans too!

Logging is whales form of sleeping. A whale sleeps with its head and back exposed, tail submerged. When whales are asleep they are seen moving slowly on the surface.

Say Hi to the Whales

Although with luck, some whale species can be seen during the entire year in Cabo San Lucas, November marks the arrival of migrating whales. Humpback Whales start arriving in the Cabo San Lucas area in mid November.

By late December, whale watching in Cabo San Lucas is in full effect! The population of Humpback Whales in Cabo is nearly at its peak. Gray Whales typically arrive in early January. Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Killer Whales have no estimated month of arrival in Cabo San Lucas.

Time to Say Bye Bye

We bid goodbye to these giant whales as they migrate back to their northern feeding grounds. Humpback Whales start migrating north in March and April. Gray Whales are often seen in small groups until late March when they start migrating as well.

Whales are one of the most mysterious and interesting creatures on Earth.

It is no surprise that we are extremely enchanted and curious of them. Here are some amazing whale facts to whet your appetite for whale watching (or convince someone to go!).

1. Whales squeal to express their delight. Imagine witnessing a whale squeal!

2. Whales can suffer from sunburns. Blue whales can even get a tan!

3. Whales can drown too. They can’t stay underwater for over 30 minutes.

4. One female gray whale always mates with two males. You might see a pod of three gray whales rubbing and rolling with one another. This is how the two male whales perform an elaborate courtship to see if the female is interested to mate.

5. The head of a sperm whale is filled with fatty, yellow tissue. Now called spermaceti, this tissue was first believed to be sperms, hence the name. Back in the days of whaling, sperm whale oil was used to fuel lighthouses, street lamps and public buildings. Sperm whales were hunted and almost went extinct. Sperm whales are now protected worldwide.

6. Female Humpbacks have their own bffs. They reunite each year and enjoy each other’s company.

7. Whales can sing! And their songs spread like pop music. A new song can be completely original, get popular and spread to populations of whales which will then sing the song.

8. The knobs covering the head and lower jaw of Humpbacks are actually their hair follicles.

9. Whales have midwives too. Most whales give birth surrounded by midwives which help keeping the newborn at the surface for breathing.

10. While Killer whales carry the name “whale” they are actually dolphins. In fact, the killer whale is the largest member of the dolphin family.

11. A whale named “52”, the “loneliest creature in the world” is arguably one of the most famous whales. No one is sure if its a male or female, what species it is or even if it is still alive. Some say 52 wanders alone across the Pacific Ocean.

Yacht in Cabo San Lucas

Remember, we are only guests in the home of these giants. Don’t do anything that will distract them in their natural habitat.

We are lucky to be able to go whale watching in Cabo San Lucas and to have such great marine life resources. In order to protect the interest of the whale watching public and the great whale species as well, Cabo adheres to the Mexican whale watching regulations enforced by SEMARNAT.

Cabo San Lucas Whale Watching Regulations

SEMARNAT established whale watching areas and restricted areas, and the duration of the whale watching season. They also authorize vessels for whale watching. Certified vessels will carry a distinctive flag designed to establish identification. SEMARNAT shall provide training courses for whale watching guides.

Tourists must be informed about expected whale behaviors before each voyage. Vessels may observe a whale or a group of whales for a maximum period of 30 minutes. The regulation also established the observing and waiting distances for whale watching, depending on the type of vessel and the whale species to be observed.

Whale Watching Rules

Whale watching can be a thrilling activity. As a whale watcher you also have to follow some rules to ensure you and the whales are kept safe while enjoying the experience.

Never try to swim with Humpback whales. Not only is it dangerous, it’s illegal.

Feeding and touching them is not allowed. Physical contact can transfer harmful diseases and feeding them can actually make them sick or dependent on humans for food.

The use of sonar is prohibited. This is a device used to detect the location of submarines and whales through sound waves.

Whale watching at night is also prohibited unless for scientific purposes and with permission from SEMARNAT.

Please never throw garbage or any waste over board (this goes for at all times, not just whale watching season).

Tips For A Fun Whale Watching Experience

A personal and up-close encounter with whales will be one unforgettable moment in your life. You would want to enjoy the experience as much as possible. Here are some tips to ensure a fun whale watching experience.

Check the weather and marine forecast. It’s for your safety and comfort. You won’t want to go when there are harsh waves if you get seasick easily.

Dress and pack for a day at a sea. Bring rain jackets if you don’t want to get wet. Wear hats to avoid heat stroke. Sunglasses will also protect your eyes from the harsh sunlight.

Reapply sunscreen all the time. You wouldn’t want to have a sunburn.

Enjoy the experience. You can bring your camera to record the memories. Make sure you have plenty of batteries and space for storage. A camera with good shutter speed is the most ideal to capture the whale behaviors.

Whale watching with kids is safe! The experience can be both exciting and educational for your children. Keep them away from the boat rails in case the waves get too powerful.

Book private yachts for a perfect Whale Watching experience in Cabo San Lucas

The whale watching season is fast approaching. Visit Cabo San Lucas, go out in the water and have personal encounters with whales. Don’t try your luck by just staying on the beach, you will only see a splash at best.

The water is vast and there’s just so much to see. Have the perfect whale watching experience on a charter yacht. Witnessing whales on their natural habitat aboard a private luxury yacht sounds like the perfect plan to unwind and have fun.

Book a tour on one of our private yachts! Enjoy the perfect boating day and whale watching experience with your friends and family. Seashine Adventures is the only 100% money-back yacht charter in Cabo.

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