Mexico/Baja Sur: Loreto Bay NP – Fin & Minke Whales
Seems like Facebook is packed with pictures of whalewatching in Baja with close encounters with grey whales – which is easy to do and experience. The real holy grail of Baja whale watching is actually a rare opportunity to see the blue and fin whales in the Sea of Cortes. It was just over 15 minutes after leaving the shore, when we saw distant spouts of whales – four magnificent fin whales playing in the morning still water. Fin whales are the second-largest species on Earth (after the blue whales), reaching up to 26m/85ft in length and 75 tons. Fin whales are very hard to see, in fact in all my previous encounters it was single individuals in the Arctic or Antarctic just passing by the ship. But here it was totally amazing – so close and you could see their spouts, blowhole, entire bodies, and the distinguishing fin – prominent, hooked dorsal fins found near their tails. Fin whales are the fastest of all great whales capable of swimming up to 23 miles per hour (23 kph). Fin whales were seriously finishing during the whaling days when 750k of them were killed, the species is still endangered. When we had enough of fin whales, another species showed up – minke whales, the smallest of baleen whales. When minke passed, common dolphins showed up and the party continued.