Text & Photos: Eduardo Lugo from Homes & Living
These gentle giants visit Puerto Vallarta every year during the winter during their reproduction period.
Whale Season: Start of December until the end of March
These gentle giants visit Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta every year during the winter as this is where they find ideal conditions for their reproduction. The male whales sing songs that can be heard underwater and in an extensive area outside of it. It is one of nature's most beautiful sounds and the loudest and strongest made by any animal.
The purpose of this serenade is to attract the females. Once the female comes close, the male begins to swim near her, brushing against her body, trying to convince her that he is THE one. At times, this contact causes them to jump out of the water until they are practically entirely airborne, with their 40 tons of weight and their nearly 15 meters in length - a truly extraordinary show of strength!
Once she is pregnant, the female will stay in tropical waters for a while and when the temperature of the water rises along with her hunger, she will simply set out on the voyage that will bring her to her feeding grounds, something that occurs around March or April.
The gestation period of a whale lasts 11 months so not all females are interested in the males as some are already pregnant from the previous season. These look for shallow waters, devoid of strong currents and sufficiently protected for them to give birth. Most of the calves are born around mid-December.
The shallow waters provide them protection and under the watchful eye of their mothers, they soon learn to swim better and follow their mothers wherever they may go.
Whale watching has become more professional over the last few years and duly constituted companies in Puerto Vallarta offer tours to watch them, but even they must respect the established Mexican norms that govern whale watching activities, these rules are in place to protect these fascinating animals. Four basic norms that must be respected while whale watching:
- Do not get closer than 30 meters (90 ft.) from the animals.
- Do not remain with the same animal(s) for more than 30 minutes, especially if there are other vessels nearby.
- If there are two vessels there when you reach them, it is better to look for another group of whales.
- Make sure that you go on an authorized vessel when you go whale watching. Authorized vessels fly a numbered flag with a seal of Mexico's Department of Ecology.
If we follow these simple rules, the whales will continue to come to Puerto Vallarta and we will be able to enjoy their incredible presence and marvelous ocean feats.