It’s been quite the banner year for whale watching in Baja California Sur. For the first time ever, gray whales are being spotted off the coast of La Paz this late in the season.
This is leading to an extension of the popular tourist season.
Season Extended Into April
Municipal Tourism of La Paz Director Natalia Ruffo Castaño is definitely more excited about the whale watching season this year.
According to the gray whale count off the coast of La Paz, more than 100 of the gentle giants remain off the coast leading to an unprecedented extension of the tourism season.
In the past, many of the gray whales started migrating well before the end of March to find different feeding grounds. Due to the current weather and ocean conditions, more are remaining off the coast, and the tour season will be extended into April.
Tourism Exceeds 2022 Levels
Along with the increase in gray whales off the coast of La Paz, there has also been an increase in visitors. Tourists booking tours to see the animals is up, just as the general tourism traffic is up in the entire region.
Last year, the amazing whale-watching season in La Paz brought in more than 16,000 visitors with an economic impact of close to $10 million pesos.
While those numbers were incredibly strong for the whale-watching tour industry in La Paz, Municipal Tourism of La Paz Director Natalia Ruffo Castaño believes they have already exceeded those numbers this year.
The extension of the season into April may make this the best whale-watching tourist season ever in La Paz.
Impact of La Niña?
While scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why the gray whales have not departed Baja California Sur for other feeding grounds, they have a general hunch. The think a “little girl” in La Paz may just have something to do with it.
No, she’s not some superstitious belief connected to gray whales. Actually, it is a phenomenon that’s very familiar and has been driving flooding rains and large amounts of snow across the Western United States – La Niña.
La Niña, also known as the “girl” in Spanish, is a seasonal weather variation related to the temperatures of the waters off of Baja California Sur and the west coast of the United States.
It generally results in wetter and snowier winters, as we have been experiencing on the west coast and mountain states in the United States over the last few months.
According to Municipal Tourism of La Paz Director Natalia Ruffo Castaño, the cooling of the waters offshore has encouraged the gray whales to stick around La Paz a little longer. It has also dramatically caused the whale sharks to be less present off the coast as well.
Recently, La Paz tourism was able to restart the “indefinitely” paused swimming with the whale shark season due to an increase in the animals in the bay.
However, officials have stressed that should the levels drop again below five, they will once again discontinue the availability of the popular tourist activity.
Regardless of the weather conditions or cooling of the oceans, local tourism officials are thrilled to have the gray whales stick around a little longer and extend the tourist season.
Tourists Should Act Now
Officials are not too sure how long the gray whales will stick around off the coast of La Paz. They anticipate that the season will continue into April. However, how long into the month is uncertain.
For tourists looking to catch a whale-watching excursion to enjoy this late season of the activity, the key is to book a reservation now.
Once they leave, it will be much later in the year when the gray whales will return again to visit and feed near La Paz.
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