Natural Habitat Adventures

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Alaska, Canada & Northern Adventures

Alaska, Canada & Northern Adventures

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Adventures

Photography Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

Ask a Question

Fill out the form below to receive additional information about our Mexico & Central America or give us a call at 800-543-8917.
Privacy Policy

Get Weekly Updates

Privacy Policy

Download Trip Details

Catalog
Privacy Policy

Thank You!


Click here to see your trip details PDF. You should also receive it by email momentarily.

Get the Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the globe, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Request Your Catalog

(Continued)
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:

Privacy Policy

View Our 2022 Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info below.



Privacy Policy

Send Us a Message

Use the form below to send us a comment or question.
Privacy Policy

Refer a Friend

Earn rewards for referring your friends!
Privacy Policy

Know Before You Go

Conservation | Baja Wildlife Guide

HUMAN EXPLOITATION

Due to their tendency to roam close to shore, gray whales were hunted for sustenance by coastal indigenous nations in the Pacific Northwest, the Arctic and Chukotka. There is little evidence that native people in California and Baja California hunted whales, yet beached whales provided an occasional food source. Spanish colonization and Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century had little impact on the number of gray whales. These colonies did, however, document their observations of the gray whale population in Baja California, which alerted American and European whalers to a profitable enterprise. Before their exploitation, the gray whale population is estimated to have compromised 15,000 to 24,000 individuals.

The commercial fishing of gray whales in the 19th and early 20th centuries led to depleted populations. After the discovery of their traditional migration paths and breeding lagoons, it became easy to target gray whales and harvest them for profit. About 3,200 gray whales were slaughtered in Baja California between 1846 and 1874; many of these were mothers with their calves who were nursing in the lagoons, primarily Magdalena Bay. The San Diego Bay was another site brimming with breeding whales, and navigation was considered dangerous at times. In the 1850s, San Diego set up processing stations along the shoreline. Whalers decreased their hunts in the 1870s, as gray whale populations were severely reduced and demand for their oil declined.

In the early 20th century, Norwegians developed new commercial practices for harvesting gray whales in pelagic, open-ocean zones. This led to another round of whaling, and in 1913, Norwegians set up a floating factory in Magdalena Bay, and four whalers were granted licenses by the Mexican government. During the peak whaling years of 1925 to 1929, 179 gray whales were killed in Baja California. Foreigner enterprises continued to profit off gray whale hunts in Mexican waters until 1935, when populations plummeted, the oil market collapsed, and whalers went bankrupt. Commercial industries shifted their focus to Antarctic whaling, abandoning gray whale hunts in Mexico.

CONSERVATION

Gray whales were granted protection from commercial hunting under the League of Nations in 1937 and the International Whaling Commission in 1946. In 1994, after 57 years of protected status, gray whales were removed from the Endangered Species List; their populations recovered enough to mark them as a species of least concern. A quota of 140 gray whales may be hunted each year by indigenous communities in Washington state and Chukotka, Russia.

It is illegal for vessels to come within 100 yards of a gray whale in the United States under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and it is crucial for tourism agencies to abide by these laws so that breeding and feeding grounds remain undisturbed. Industrial developments near these grounds and migration paths may pose the most significant threat to the future of the gray whale.

FORMAL PROTECTION IN MEXICO

Mexico began protecting crucial gray whale habitat when it created a whale sanctuary in Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Baja California Sur, which was then expanded to include Manuela Lagoon and Guerrero Negro Lagoon. Presidential decrees established a whale sanctuary in nearby San Ignacio and reserves for migratory seabirds and wildlife in both these areas. In 1988, Mexico’s largest wildlife refuge, El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, was established. This UNESCO World Heritage site encompasses the coastal lagoons of San Ignacio and Ojo de Liebre. In 1983 and 1991 legislation was passed that banned the physical harassment, capture and killing of gray whales.

Header Credit: Melissa Scott
See Majestic Marine Animals on These Trips
Repeater Layout : vertical-2up
The Great Gray Whales of Baja
New Trip

The Great Gray Whales of Baja

Come within arm's length of amiable Pacific gray whales and their calves, as these gentle giants birth and nurture their young in the warm Pacific waters of San Ignacio Lagoon.
6 Days / Feb–Mar
From $4595
Limited to 18 Travelers
New Trip
Swimming with Mexico's Whale Sharks
New Itinerary!

Swimming with Mexico's Whale Sharks

A genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience! From our base on Holbox Island, snorkel off the Yucatan Peninsula with the largest fish on the planet—gentle 15-ton, 40-foot-long whale sharks!
6 Days / Jun–Aug
From $5695
Limited to 14 Travelers
New Itinerary!
Know Before You Go

Get Weekly Updates

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more.
Privacy Policy
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS
Natural Habitat & WWF Discovering Our Planet Together
WWF Logo
Get Weekly Updates
Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more.
Privacy Policy
Request Your 2022-23 Catalog
Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the globe, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures 2022 Catalog

(Continued)
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:

View Our 2022 Digital Catalog
Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info below.

Natural Habitat Adventures 2022 Catalog
Send Us a Message
Use the form below to send us a comment or question.
Sign up to receive our travel emails!
Privacy Policy
Refer a Friend
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here
Sign up to receive our travel emails!
Privacy Policy
/know-before-you-go/mexico-central-america/baja-mexico/wildlife-guide/conservation/
Physical Requirements