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Sat Mar 16, 2013, 01:08 AM

Guerrero Negro... (dial up warning)

...is a company town just below the border between Baja Californi Norte and Baja California Sur. The company is Exportadora de Sal, the largest salt production facility in the world - your table salt most likely originated there. They have 60 square miles of salt evaporating ponds. It is also the location of a major grey whale birthing and breeding lagoon.

A fair sized tourist industry has sprung up since the 1970s. During the season, for about US$50 you can go out on a panga for a couple of hours and get up close with these animals. (there are several other bays/lagoons in southern Baja that also have whales and similar excursions are possible). At Ojo de Liebre (aka Scammon's Lagoon) the area has fairly recently been made Biosphere Reserve, and that combined with the salt company controlling much of the access has made the situation more regulated, which is probably better for the whales. (and the local ejido that runs the boats)


to the whales (evaporating pond)





salt




at the new whale watching facility




mandatory mounted skeleton





At any rate, whether you drive out to the whale watching point or take a tour from town, the experience is really special, if a bit regimented. As you cross the salt flats and the water comes into view you start to get all excited because you can see them spouting out there! LOTS of them!




Ticket price includes a mandatory flotation vest and out to the dock you go.




Where you board your panga, usually with a few other passengers if you are a small party. We numbered 6 plus the pangero.





off we go!




first encounter, a mother and a calf




a nostril shot




hi! a flipper




next we cruised a little ways over to see what was going on here




it seemed to be 3 males and one female having quite a time













this allowed a couple of head shots




maybe even the coveted eye (I can't tell, dammit)




under the boat





for a little scritch from the pangero





It was a magnificent experience. Thanks for looking!

a final perfect tail shot











19 replies, 1945 views

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Guerrero Negro... (dial up warning) (Original post)
Kali Mar 2013 OP
Tuesday Afternoon Mar 2013 #1
Kali Mar 2013 #8
CaliforniaPeggy Mar 2013 #2
Kali Mar 2013 #9
pinboy3niner Mar 2013 #3
Kali Mar 2013 #10
agracie Mar 2013 #4
Kali Mar 2013 #13
freshwest Mar 2013 #5
Kali Mar 2013 #11
dreamnightwind Mar 2013 #6
Kali Mar 2013 #12
dreamnightwind Mar 2013 #15
solemnspace Mar 2013 #7
Kali Mar 2013 #14
Name removed Apr 2013 #19
MiddleFingerMom Mar 2013 #16
Kali Mar 2013 #17
MiddleFingerMom Mar 2013 #18

Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 01:13 AM

1. thanks, Kali. feels like I was right there with you. what a wonderful way to spend a day.

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Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:27 PM

8. I wanted to jump in the water with them!

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 01:14 AM

2. Very cool, my dear Kali!

You really saw a lot. I've been whale watching out on the ocean, and it's a lot more difficult. They can (and do) swim all over, since they're not contained as they are here.

I just love your pictures!

Thanks for sharing...

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #2)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:29 PM

9. there were over a thousand in the area

I guess one can volunteer and help do surveys/count them. thanks!

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 01:31 AM

3. Thanks for those great pics!

btw, visiting Vietnam I saw saltyards there like this one...


Salt farm worker, Ninh Hoa, Vietnam
http://www.cringel.com/node/143

I had a nice conversation with the proprietor, who'd been VC during the war. Because I'd been a G.I there back then, he treated me extra special.



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Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #3)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:33 PM

10. they were using heavy equipment and hauling by big truck to their dock

I think the company is now partially owned by China. When you drive in they keep track of your vehicle, the guy taking plate numbers told us we could stop and look around, take pix and even help ourselves to some samples. We took a few chunks but I was thinking in the back of my mind, hmmm I pay almost $10 for a 50 lb block of livestock salt, I wonder how much I could haul home and what would customs do?

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 02:08 AM

4. Omigosh !!! Wonderful !

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Response to agracie (Reply #4)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:37 PM

13. thanks!

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 02:34 AM

5. Wow, thanks for taking the time to post - excellent pix, I think!

The color is beautiful! Wish I was there.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #5)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:34 PM

11. finally, right?

when did I get back? a month ago?

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 05:26 AM

6. Those were great!

I sometimes see them (gray whales like these) very close to shore around the Bodega Bay area here in northern California, but have always wanted to see the breeding lagoons down south. And to get so close in such a little boat, amazing.

I worry about their future, climate change is having a dramatic effect on phytoplankton, which then means less of the critters the gray whales eat. There do seem to be a lot of them out there, so they're probably ok, so far at least.

Thanks for the pix and the write-up, they put us readers right in the story (we wish).

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #6)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:36 PM

12. I highly recommend it.

Travel in Baja is pretty easy and there seemed to be plenty of public transport too. I know there is a bus (or trolley?) that goes to Tijuana from San Diego. We crossed at Mexicali/Calexico and spent some days south of Tecate checking out wineries (that will be another post, eventually) then worked our way south.

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Response to Kali (Reply #12)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:52 PM

15. I hope to do it someday

Various fears and obstacles have kept it from happening, your report helped and makes it more likely, thanks again.

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 09:58 AM

7. Those are great shots and the whales are hamming it up. Any idea what kind they are?

 

It's sort of hard to tell from the fin and fluke shots. My daughter could probably tell in an instant, but she's not available at the moment.

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Response to solemnspace (Reply #7)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 03:40 PM

14. they are Greys

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Response to Kali (Reply #14)


Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 04:36 PM

16. How COOL!!! Unbelievably gentle giants, indeed.

.
.
.
Kali, taking a "few samples of salt" for her livestock in the back of a pickup truck while singing:
.
Comin' in to Ar'zona, geez.
Bringin' in a coupla hundred keys.
Don't check my shaker, if you please,
Senor Customs man.

.
.
.
I've been wanting you to bring me back some good mescal. Since I don't drink liquor anymore,
could you just bring me back a coupla dozen fat-n-yummy agave worms?
.
.
.

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Response to MiddleFingerMom (Reply #16)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 04:40 PM

17. !!!






uh, you know I don't DO larvae.

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Response to Kali (Reply #17)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 05:01 PM

18. That song was by Arlo Guthrierrez.

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