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Gray Whale Migration Update and Census Through the Years

Gray Whale Migration Update

by Keith Jones, Baja Jones Adventure Travel, author of Gray Whales, My 20 Years of Discovery

“January 20, 2013:  We expect a great whale watching season.  This year our first trip is January 26.  Come join us for a vacation like no other.”


The whale counts below are a result of a long term gray whale census study that has been taking place for more then 20 years.  It is a combined effort of the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and SEMARNAP (Mexican fisheries).

Because the migration is underway and the early results are good, I thought I would put together a brief report to help you all understand what the new figures mean.  Here are some whale counts taken the past several years.


Gray whale census through the years
Date Baby Whales Total of all Whales
January 26, 2006 250 1,100
February 11, 2008 187 481
January 25, 2010 53 197
February 15, 2010 183 573
January 17, 2012 234 559
January 9, 2013 106 342
January 17, 2013 234 559

As you can see from the early whale counts this year, we are on track to have a most excellent whale watching migration this year, 2013. It is not so easy to make an accurate prediction of what the peak whale count will be this early in the season, but I will go out on a limb and say the final baby whale count will be around 350 and total whales counted inside the lagoon will be around 1,200.

If my unscientific prediction is accurate, this will be a better than average whale migration count inside Laguna Ojo de Liebre.

The gray whale migration is in full swing...and it will be a banner year!

The census always begins in one of two locations. Either at the most inside locations for boat embarcatons where the ejido Benito Juarez boats go out whale watching or at the location nearest the mouth of the lagoon at Chaparito the salt company docks, where Mario’s whale watching and Laguna Tours boats are docked.

The boats cruise slowly along the east side of the lagoon and then continue to circle the odd shaped bay, on the return cruising along the west side of the bay. The lagoon is long and narrow with a dog leg turn much like a long golf course layout.

If the weather is inclement and rainy, windy or foggy the whale count is sometimes affected because it is more difficult to see the whales or the spouts. But I have found the count to be extremely consistent. Because the same staff works the census each time, they bring a continuity to the process that averages out the few bad days that might affect the count.

At the end of the whale watching day the biologists and staff from the two boats get together and compile a final count that is then issued as the official Censo for that date.

Come along on one of our whale watching trips and see for yourself what 500 or 1,000 or 2,000 whales all in one small lagoon look like. For more information, email Keith Jones at

Want to know where to stay when visiting the Gray Whales in their lagoons?  Read more at is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at


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About Carla White

Carla White is a freelance writer, public relations/marketing consultant and event organizer based in Ensenada, Baja, California. Carla and her husband Jim moved to Baja in 2003 from the Los Angeles area believing that, thanks to the internet and satellite communications, they could continue working from home while enjoying a richer, more affordable lifestyle. So far, they’ve been right. Connect with Carla Google+

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