The Unique Grey Whales of Baja

The engine is off, the water glassy smooth, and the only sound is the birds overhead. Suddenly, the water breaks – a huge spout of water pulses though the air! A fifty foot mammal emerges ever so gently, inches from your thirty foot boat, sticking her grey nose, covered in barnacles, just high enough above the water line to look you straight in the eye!

There are few magical places left in the world where humans and nature can coexist in such a way that it’s as if time stood still. Magdalena Bay is one of those very places, and it’s waters tell a powerful love story between the community and the wildlife that call this place home. The abundance of life is evident from the first boat ride out- pelicans and frigates gracefully glide over the mirror-like waters into the vibrant green mangroves while the sea lions warm up with a bit of morning yoga. Their bay is protected under the largest wildlife Biosphere Reserve in Latin American, spanning 2.5 million hectares – so to say that it’s off the beaten track is an understatement. Bald eagles perch on branches along the mountainous coastline, while coyotes run along the sandy desert, but just under the water’s surface lies the last nursery and breeding grounds of the Pacific Grey Whale.

Join the Dive Ninjas Team of whale experts as we head to the winter home of the the Eastern Pacific Grey Whale Population – unique for making the longest migration of any mammal on earth – from the arctic to the warm waters of the San Ignacio Lagoon. Watch as these magnificent mammals teach, feed and socialize their young babies in the shallows of this whale sanctuary and World Heritage Site.

This is a special limited offer with only 4 spaces available on each of the expeditions. We run expeditions from Thursday to Monday, February 2023. We recommend that you act fast, as these trips will sell out quick!  Scroll down for more details on the trip,  then register online now to secure your space.

Grey whales in Mag Bay

The Expedition – Whale Watching with a Difference

Let’s begin!  From the Dive Ninja Expeditions HQ in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, our expedition will journey 5 hours north along the beautiful rocky mountains of the Sierra de la Laguna, and through the cactus filled deserts of Baja California Sur, to our base camp in a small fishing town on the shores of Bahia Magdalena.  After checking into our comfortable bed and breakfast, we’ll have our first presentation of the trip, followed by a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants. The next 3 days we’ll be up early!  With full days on the water, we’ll explore the 3 lagoons of the Mag Bay complex.

Each area showcases different whale social behavior.  The females give birth in the shallowest part of the lagoon – spot grey whales babies only a few days old (cute)!  Then, when checking out the mouth of the lagoon, we’ll be looking to catch spy hopping behavior during a tide change. Sometimes fifty individual whales play peek-a-boo all around your boat, trying to get a look at you!  Then moving on to the deeper parts of the lagoon, we see more social behavior  – such as males and females looking for mates, or females teaching their young ones, preparing them for the long journey back to the arctic at the end of the winter.

We’ll spend the three ocean days not only experiencing the whales, but also exploring the many islands, looking for dolphins, turtles, osprey, and other wildlife that make this place so special. After a whale filled day on the water, we’ll head back to the bed and breakfast, and watch the sun paint the sky every color of pink as it sets over the bay, before heading in for dinner and a presentation from Maru.

Who’s Maru?  Well, Maru Marcias is a biologist and science communicator currently studying the impact of ecotourism with grey whales on individuals environmental awareness. Alongside Maru, and our knowledgeable ninja naturalist guide you will have the opportunity to help to collect essential population data on these whales to get a better understanding of their health, social dynamics, threats, and ensure tourism activities in the area are sustainable.  Presentations will be given each evening on the importance of whales for a healthy planet, the threats they face,  their conservation here in Baja and around the world, as well as steps we can take to protect them in our everyday lives as Whale Defenders.

We head out each day with snacks, drinks, a delicious, locally prepared lunch, and the most knowledgeable captain in the area.  Our ninja captain, Mele, a product of generations of artisanal fishermen, grew up navigating these waters and knows every rock, tide, fish, and whale in the bay. Now, a full time eco-tour operator, this ninja is a verifiable whale whisperer. We’ve seen him point out whales before they even surface, or know exactly where a particular mother and calf will take refugee in dense fog.

On the last day we’ll head in a little early, taking a detour through the local mangroves to visit the natural sand dunes for our expedition closing picnic on the dunes. The mangrove and dune eco systems here are vastly important to the local area. So much so, that they have recently been deemed a protected area by the Mexican government. We’ll spend one last night in this gorgeous area before heading back to Cabo after breakfast the next morning.

Why are The Grey Whales In Mag Bay So Unique?

It’s an amazing story!  From the  1840s, during the whaling era, grey whales were hunted almost to extinction. They were becoming extremely hard to find in the wild – until one day, Captain Scammon discovered the very nursing and breeding grounds that we know today as Magdalena Bay. Whale hunters started coming from all over the world to take on these grey whales in the shallow, treacherous waters of the bay, but the greys didn’t go down without a fight. They earned the name Devil Fish, for the way they would ram boats after being harpooned, crushing the wooden boats, thrashing and sinking the ships – drowning those on board.

Whaling finally stopped in the area in the 1940’s – there were so few greys left, it wasn’t worth it.  The fearsome reputation of the Devil Fish persisted though, and local fishermen were deathly afraid of them.  And then, one day, in 1970, a female grey whale – a descendent of the few whales that survived the horrors of the whaling industry – approached a local fishing boat. The men, who had heard the horror stories of these Devil Fish, were scared for their lives.  But local legend has it, one of the fishermen reached out his hand towards the whale and the whale lifted her head from the water placing her head against his hand. She stayed with the fishermen for a few moments before continuing on her way.

In a magical way, this proverbial peace treaty has developed over the years into a truly unique relationship between the grey whales and local fishermen. Many mothers now seem to teach their calves to interact with humans within these lagoons. They will actively encourage their young calves to approach small boats, sometimes even lifting them towards the surface, as if introducing the calf to the humans. These curious grey whales swim up to the small boats in the lagoon, spyhopping within an arm’s distance from the boat in what seems to be a mammoth game of peek-a-boo. Keep in mind, even the calves are larger than the small boats used in these lagoons! And adults can be more than 2-3 times the size of the boats. The local fishermen have transitioned to be whale watching guides and have formed cooperatives within their communities to help protect the whales and this unique bond. It’s an amazing story of hope and regeneration – from whale killers, to whale guardians, in a matter of generations.  The greys seem to recognise this too – and only display their super friendly behaviour within these lagoons and not outside of them – whether it be nearby in the ocean, during their migration routes, or in their feeding grounds in the far north.  Mag Bay is truly a protected haven for grey whales!

Dive Ninja Grey Whales
Grey whales in Mag BayGrey whales in Mag Bay

What’s The Cost?

This is a special limited offer series of grey whale expeditions, led by an expert ninja guide and grey whale scientist, Maru Marcias. Each expedition is built for a more intimate experience with a maximum capacity of only 4 guests per trip with 2 specialized guides, so there is 1 guide for each 2 guests. The expedition package price is $1850 for the 5 day expedition. All prices are per person and on shared double occupancy basis. If you are traveling solo, no problem! We will match you with another solo ninja guest of the same gender. Or if you prefer your own private room a single supplement upgrade is also available for an additional fee.

What’s Included

The trip price includes all boat trips, whale watching activities, naturalist guides,  PADI Whale Defender Specialty Certification, presentations throughout the week from our in-house whale biologist, transfers from Dive Ninja HQ* to our base camp and return transport to Cabo, 4 nights accommodation in a local hotel on a shared double occupancy basis, a light breakfast on boat days, lunch, snacks, & soft drinks onboard the boat, dune picnic, and park fees.

What’s Not Included

The price does not include flights, transfers from/to airport to/from Dive Ninjas HQ, rental equipment, Crew Gratuity (10%-15% of trip price is customary but is at your discretion), local dinners, IVA (Mexican sales tax), or credit card processing fees.

Anything Else?

Please note that this expedition is not scuba diving, or in-water based. Whales are a protected species here in Mexico, and we are not permitted to swim with then under any circumstances. There is no age requirement, and you do not need any experience or certifications to be able to join this expedition. All the action takes place from the pangas, with the exception of  visiting the mangroves and sand dunes by foot.   To preserve the natural behaviors of these animals it is best done from the small local pangas with as little disturbance on the water as possible. If you are a photographer, and plan on bringing drones, or large camera equipment, feel free to contact us for tips and advice beforehand! We have extensive experience in this field, and would be happy to accommodate.

Flights & Pre-Trip Activities Information

This trip departs from, and returns to, our headquarters in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The nearest airport is Los Cabos International (also known as San Jose del Cabo International Airport – airport code SJD). Guests also have the option to fly into La Paz International Airport (airport code LAP) and we can pick you up at the airport or in town on our way to Bahia Magdalena. Both airports are serviced daily with domestic & international flights. We recommend arriving a day early to give you some time to relax and a little padding in case of any travel delays. Easy flights to both airports can be found from many international and national airports, although Cabo has far more flights and options as it is a much larger airport. From the US flights are pretty cheap – especially from the west coast and southwest US. From Europe flights are very affordable and include usually a layover in the US or Mexico City. If transiting through the US please check in advance to see if you will need a US transit visa.

Since you will be visiting us at our Ninja HQ in Cabo there are numerous options to add on local diving and activities in Los Cabos and the surrounding areas before and after your expedition. Let us show you the best of Baja while you’re here! March is the best time for swimming with pelagic sharks, such as makos, blue sharks, or smooth hammerheads on our blue water excursion. Join us for a day trip to La Paz to swim with the whale sharks and sea lions of the stunning islands of Espritu Santo. Have you thought about trying scuba diving? We have you covered with lots of diving options from the Cabo Marine Park to the UNSECO World Heritage Site of Cabo Pulmo.  Give us a shout and we would be happy to set up an add-on package deal to extend your trip to Baja.

Grey whales in Mag Bay

Watch: Laguna San Ignacio – Don Pachico, the “Grandfather of Whales”

Expedition Quick Facts:

Location: Bahia Magdalena, BCS MX
Arrive: Dive Ninjas HQ, Cabo San Lucas at 10 am
Return: Dive Ninjas HQ, Cabo San Lucas at 1pm
Duration: 5 Days, 4 nights
Activity Days:  3 full days
Nearest Airport: Los Cabos International (SJD)
Trip Cost: $1850 USD
Min Deposit to Reserve: 30%