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Authors

Jorge Vargas

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Every year, California gray whales arrive at their wintering grounds in the coastal lagoons off the western coast of the Baja California peninsula and the Gulf of California. It is here where gray whales annually engage in their reproductive and procreation activities, a fascinating and mysterious ritual dating back 100,000 years! Thus, between November and March, thousands of gray whales congregate in the shallow waters of Mexico’s lagoons, all of which are located in the state of Baja California Sur. The latest scientific data estimates that today the gray whale population has reached approximately 25,000 individuals, a total that compares with the original number that existed in the Pacific Ocean in the early nineteenth century prior to the whale hunting activities of the United States in that part of the world. When one considers that gray whales were twice threatened with extinction, first by U.S. whalers in the late nineteenth century and then by Norwegian factory-ships in the 1930s, this population recovery is truly amazing. Approximately 25,000 gray whales arrive in these lagoons every winter, all of which congregate within the short period of about two months. In order to get to these warm, shallow, and secluded Mexican coastal waters, the gray whales have to undertake one of the longest and most exhausting migrations in the animal world. They swim from the freezing waters of the Bering and Chucki seas in the Arctic region, travel through the Unimack Pass in the Aleutian Islands, and continue south along the coasts of Alaska, Canada, and the United States to finally arrive in Mexico. This is truly a maritime odyssey, covering a total of 8000 miles (round trip) and lasting between two and one-half and three months.

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