Whale watching season officially started again on December 3rd as hundreds of Humpback whales arrived off the coast of Punta Mita and Puerto Vallarta.
Their annual migration from the cold waters of Alaska brings them as far down as the Bay of Banderas where they will procreate and raise their young in our warm waters.
As the newborns don’t yet possess the required amount of body fat to insulate them from the cold water in the North pacific, spending the winter in our area gives them the time they need for development. By March, they will be strong enough for the long journey back towards Alaska.
While females nurse the calves and teach them behaviors such as breaching, spy hopping, and tail slapping, the males are courting the females – singing in long, repetitive voices trying to get the chance to mate. Many boats will drop a microphone into the water so you can hear firsthand the enchanting, haunting, songs from under the water.
Every year from December through March, whales can be seen from the coastline; a short walk on the beach will produce the sighting of a blow hole erupting, a slapping fin, or the most spectacular view of them all: the male back flip.
Males keen on impressing females with their size will jump entirely out of the water, roll in the air and land on their back in a big splash – no small task at a weight of 30 tons. Of course, this show is much more thrilling when it’s done just dozens of feet away while you’re sitting in a boat. Hence, the enormous popularity of the whale watching tours.
The Humpback Whale is a protected species so there is no touching or feeding, but quite often the whales will put on a show for the boat’s strange inhabitants, seeming to enjoy their clicking cameras and the “oohs” and “ahhs.”
A typical whale watching expedition will take between 2-4 hours and will include breakfast on board. Once a whale has been spotted in the distance, the boat will race towards it, stopping at the required distance to allow cameras to roll. The cries of joy and astonishment, the streams of water coming out from the blowhole close by you, the playful splashing of the mothers and young, and their smiling faces (the curve of their mouths will make you swear they’re smiling at you,) makes for an unforgettable experience.
When the giant mammals disappear under the water, the photo comparing and chatter resumes until the next whale appears in the distance and the whole show repeats itself again.