Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Baby Balleanas

Ok everyone. You have to bear with me here. This was probably one of the things that my mom and I most looked forward to when we were planning our trip to Cabo. However, it took me so long to get this blog up and running that the stories are all over the place and this was a REALLY long time ago. Like over a month. My brain does not always retain details for very long so unfortunately this may be more pictures less story. However, if you are short on time and are one of those who doesn't need to read the story, that is great. But just DO NOT stop short of checking out this whole post because at the end is my (as in I took it) National Geographic video of a whale who swam right under our boat. He us smiling for the camera. It is amazing footage. I cannot believe I was able to catch such live action footage. Check it out. For those of you who like the story. I will do the best I can.
So a few years back. My mom and I and our good friend Betty and her son Beto decided to take a flight up to Magdalina Bay to see the Baby whales. We really did not know what to expect but I had read a book about the bays up the Baja where Grey Whales have their babies and heard it was amazing. My mom ever the Cabo adventurer had also heard about them and hooked us all up with a 1.5 hour plane (teeny tiny plan) ride and a tour to Bahia Magdalina (Bay). We were so blown away by our experience seeing and touching the whales that we decided to go back this year. My mom invited her good friend Kris...who if you asked me totally got the most adventurous week. She came kayaking in Cabo Pulmo with my mom and I, got to go see the Whales, and went on a Todos Santos historical house tour with my mom. She got lots of adventuring in. By the time Kris came, my mom and I had come out of our relaxing shells and were ready to see what the Baja had to offer. Betty and her boyfriend Clemente were on vacation that whole week and decided to drive up to Bahia Magdalina and meet us there so we could all share a panga tour out to the baby whales together. A few years ago when we went it was amazing. We got to see and touch a baby whale. Then we took the panga boat further out into the bay and just sat amongst about a hundred baby Grey Whales and their mommas. There were so many it was eery. I definately did not feel like we humans were in charge and if we weren't respectful we'd be in the drink with some angry momma whales and protecting their babies. So with extreme respect for our situation we sat amongst baby whales learning to swim, breach, eat and play. This time however, we got a much more intimate experience with one baby and his mom. We knew it was a he because he had only two slits on his underside instead of four. We learned this from our guide. Who I joked kind of reminded me of a dad. Not my dad, but just like he could have been a sort or surly father, who you knew would take care of you but just wasn't going to be that happy about it, but knew a whole lot and you should listen to him cuz if you didn't...Anyway we listened to him and he was very knowledgable. He told us about the difference between the boy and the girl whales and about the birthing of babies and how the milk their calves. He told us that sometimes Dolphins steal the milk from the whale. You'll have to ask my mom how it works. She got a very detailed explaination from our guide that cannot be explained on paper. I just tried and could not get it right. Suffice it to say, I'm really glad my mom had her life vest on for the demonstration. Anyway what he had to say was interesting but really it didn't matter. We were there to see whales. We almost immediately met a mom and her baby and we got to pet them, touch the little baby's face. See his whiskers, experience there affectionate blow hole blow in your face. It kind of feels like he accedentally sneezed on you, like a baby. It's cute but still kind of messy. But not like a baby because instead of a little spray you've got about a half a gallon of sea water on your face. But it's ok because you were that close to a baby whale and it must mean he loves you. While we were out we also did see the National Geographic boat which was VERY cool. I just felt like like we were doing something elite and special. I love feeling elite and special (as most of you well know). About two hours into the tour the little boy whale and his momma seemed to tire of us so we decided to head out further into the bay. I was hoping to sit amongst the hoards of whales like last time. But, before we could get out there we came up on a little girl whale and her mom. Ok class how do we tell the boys from the girls? Thaaats right. Four slits. I have to lay as a disclaimor. I never saw a slit. Never two and never four but I was taking the guides word for it.
It was cool to see how different this pair of whales was compared to the male and his mom. You could tell they right away that their markings were different. Grey Whales often get barnacles and these weird lice that live on their skin. A lot of times they breach to smack the parasites off. That is one of the reasons the whales like to be pet by us humans, if you can you pull off the little suckers. Our guide pulled off one of the lice/mite thingys (yes that is the technical term, don't be a sassy ass) and it had made a skin calcification and inside lived like six lice/mite thingys. It looked like something straight out of "Star Trek the Wrath of Kahn". Don't make fun of me. I saw it at the Comet Theater in Cook when I was like 6. I was kind of traumatized but it was also kind of exciting because I got to sit next to the cabin neighbor boy who was about 8 years older than me that I had a super crush on. Anyways the lice/mite thingys were gross but sooooo fascinating. So those little critters make marks all over the whales and you could totally tell the difference between both sets of whales. From far away they all look the same but from close up they were easily identifiable. You could also tell immediately the different personalities. The male whale and his mom were much more laid back. The mom would let her son play but usually hung back and would only surface to let us know she was keeping her eye out. The female and her mom were like the Lohans of the sea. The baby girl was a total show stopper and wanted tons of attention from her fans...er...humans and the mom would make almost as much of a show and push her daughter to perform. I don't know if I could ever get sick of going up and seeing the baby balleanas especially after seeing their distinct personalities. Betty goes every year. Thats a tradition I could handle. In fact on our way back from the tour the boat took us past some gorgeous sand dune islands. Our guide let us get out (there's a picture of my mom getting out. Isn't that funny. Everybody looked like that but it's always funnier when it's your mom).
The sand was so soft and warm it felt like one of those Zen sand boxes that really stressed out office people keep in their office. Except way better because,
a) we weren't in an office
b )we weren't stressed out
c) it was real
The only draw back was that we didn't have a little rake and hamitite marble to make designs. But we had our toes. My mom said she thought the place had healing properties. I think I agree because once you stepped foot into that sand everybody scattered and needed some time alone. We could have stayed there all day in a sort of trace like healing state. My friend Phil needs to go there and shoot film. I think that I should go there and camp out for a couple of days and play with the whales in a kayak. I wonder if they let you do that. Hmmm.

Don't forget to check out my amazing whale face footage. National Geographic eat your heart out!

3 Comments:

At April 2, 2008 at 7:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup. My week was one incredible adventure after another, but this was definitely a highlight! As wonderful as these photos are, you really had to be there. Anni, thanks for your blog-- it's as close to a scrapbook as I'll ever get!
Kris

 
At April 2, 2008 at 8:25 PM , Blogger Alison Lea Photography said...

my favorite part is listening to you talk to the whale...ha! you're so cute!!!

p.s. LOVIN' the blog!!!

 
At April 3, 2008 at 4:18 AM , Blogger Anni said...

I know! don't I sound like such a Minnnesooootan?

 

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