- Close encounters with the friendly gray whale cows and calves in San Ignacio Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Opportunities to see blue, fin, humpback, Bryde's, sperm, and killer whales in the Sea of Cortez.
- Comfortable land-based accommodations in beautiful Baja California.
Baja California's San Ignacio Lagoon is the primary calving ground for eastern Pacific gray whales and part of Mexico's El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve—the largest wildlife refuge in Latin America. The large concentration of gray whales that reside here each winter are extremely 'friendly,' and regularly approach our small whale watching
pangas (skiffs) in a moving display that occurs nowhere else. The whales are the focus of our trip, and we will have three full days to observe them. We expect to see large numbers of gray whales, including cow-calf pairs, courting whales, and others.
At the start of our trip, we also take two days to explore the Sea of Cortez, one of the most productive and diverse seas on the planet. From our base in the quaint town of Loreto we will make a private boat excursion to search for marine mammals and to enjoy the outstanding landscapes of the Gulf of California. Here we have the possibility to see blue whales, the largest animals ever to exist on Earth, fin whales, Bryde's whales, sperm whales, humpbacks, and herds of dolphins.
>> See a day-by-day trip log, photos, and species list from our March 2017 departure.
>> See photos & video from our 2016 Baja: San Ignacio Lagoon & Sea of Cortez expedition.
The highlight of our trip will be the three full days spent with gray whale mothers and their curious calfs in San Ignacio Lagoon. The protected lagoon is also a wintering ground for migrating birds, and we may see White Ibis, Elegant Terns, Reddish Egrets, Brown Pelicans, Brandt's Cormorants, Brant Geese and others.
We also explore the wildlife of the productive and diverse Sea of Cortez, which is home to more than 650 tropical and temperate fish (90 of them endemic) and one-third of the world's whale and dolphin species. On land, an exceptional 695 vascular plant species are scattered among colorful and rugged desert landscapes. On our excursions we have the possibility to see humpback, blue, fin, Bryde's, and sperm whales, dolphins, sea lions, "flying" rays, and many bird species.
Trip Dates & Cost
2018: February 17–25 | February 23 – March 3 | March 1–9 | March 9–17. $3,250 per person.* Group limit 8.
* Trip price does not include international airfare. There is a single supplement fee of $800. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.
"My sister Martine and I were in awe the whole time we were there. Only positive comments can be posted regarding this expedition"
- Christine Sartori, 2015 traveler
Kathi Koontz is Oceanic Society's Bay Area Programs Manager. Her passion for the ocean includes work as a whales-in-distress responder through NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. Kathi is an avid diver, snorkeler, and advocate for marine wildlife. She has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and spends as much time as she can underwater.
Samantha Whitcraft holds a bachelor in Natural Sciences from Harvard University and earned her master of Marine Affairs and Policy at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. As a conservation biologist, she has worked with National Geographic, WildAid and local communities to research and develop sustainable ecotourism and "citizen science." A resident of Florida, her fieldwork has taken her to the Amazon, Kiribati, the Bahamas, Fiji, and the Galapagos.
Eric Ramos is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center in new York City in the area of animal behavior and comparative psychology training. He has been working as a field researcher and trip leader with Oceanic Society since 2011, leading boat-based research trips with volunteers and students to gather data on the population of bottlenose dolphins at Turneffe Atoll, Belize.
Roger Harris is a long-time Oceanic Society naturalist with 30 years of experience working as a guide. In addition to working with Oceanic Society, Roger has frequently worked as a naturalist for Lindblad Expeditions and the National Audubon Society. As a naturalist he has led eco-tours in Honduras, Belize, Kenya, Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos, Baja California, and SE Alaska. Roger is also a professional conservation biologist specializing in endangered species, wetlands, and native habitat restoration. He earned a graduate degree in ornithology from U.C. Berkeley, and is both a NAUI diver and an expert world birder.