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Just another normal day petting whales off Baja california

So many reasons to love Baja California, Mexico.

August 28, 2015 Written by Captain Mike

We never planned on offering dive charters in the Sea of Cortes or around Baja California. And we certainly never intended to uproot our entire Canadian and Alaska operation and move everything to Mexico. But these things happen. I am a huge fan of John Steinbeck and was particularly entranced by his account of voyaging around Baja California and “Log of the Sea of Cortes” which led to our plan 12 years ago to reposition the Nautilus Explorer to Mexico and retrace the Steinbeck’s voyage. Which led to exploratory trips out to Socorro Island when it was just ourselves and the Solmar V out there (long before all the current operators were even operating liveaboard dive boats). Which in turn led to 2 exploratory trips out to Guadalupe Island to see if the stories we had been hearing about up close encounters with great white sharks was true (the stories were true and then some!!). Over time we have had the good fortune to voyage and explore both sides of the Baja California peninsula but there is still so much more to see. So much more exploring to do. It is very hard not to fall in love with the place. Our friends running grey whale trips at San Ignacio Lagoon (on the west side of Baja C.) recently sent us the following video. It’s a must see!! Amazing stuff.

Background info on San Ignacio Lagoon.

Pachico, a coastal fisherman, became the chosen one. On a winter day in 1972, Pachico was fishing in the Lagoon. That was when a gray whale approached his small 18 foot wooden panga – a typical Baja open boat similar to a dory. Until that day there had been no known contact between gray whales and man without one or the other ending up dead.

Pachico tried to get away from the whale, but every time Pachico tried to get away, the whale would change its direction and would surface next to the panga. Though he knew little about whales at the time, Pachico knew enough to know the large marine mammal double the size of his panga was now in charge. The whale went under the panga, not giving Pachico an option to do anything except stay still. Pachico was surprised that the whale wasn’t showing any signs of aggression; as the old fisherman tales had described. Instead, the whale gently rubbed itself against his panga, raised its head a couple feet out of the water right next to the side of the boat where Pachico was sitting. Though fearful, Pachico timidly reached out his hand to the gray whale and touched it with his fingers. To his amazement the whale didn’t back away, but instead moved closer to him. Pachico soon realized that petting the giant was OK. The gray whale had chosen Pachico to be the first human to experience a close and friendly relationship. On that winter day, in San Ignacio Lagoon, the gray whale and man forged the beginnings of a new relationship with each other.

Returning to the fishing village that day, Pachico told the story of the friendly gray whale. Everyone in the Lagoon thought he was out of his mind. Pachico started taking his friends out in the Lagoon and they soon discovered that what he had told them was true. The word spread. Soon, others started to arrive, hoping to experience this wonderful new relationship between man and the gray whales.

The gray whales, that had been hunted and abused by for so many years, showed signs of having forgiven man and had reached out for a new and better relationship.

Pachico was actively involved in many different projects related to the whales in San Ignacio Lagoon. He worked with researchers, scientists, and documentary filmmakers. Pachico’s mesmerizing experiences with the whales have also been documented in many different books, magazines and films.

Pachico resided in San Ignacio Lagoon, (Laguna San Ignacio) from 1960-2013. Pachico ‘s wife Carmen Aguilar, has lived in San Ignacio for her entire life. Carmen’s father was one of the founders of the Lagoon. Carmen has family roots in San Ignacio Lagoon that date back to the 1800s. Pachico and Carmen have 6 children who were all raised on the shores of the San Ignacio Lagoon. The Mayoral children grew up with the whales, dolphins, turtles, birds, and all other ocean and desert life that makes San Ignacio Lagoon one of Baja’s most amazing destinations.

Francisco “Pachico” Mayoral 1941-2013

Safe diving everyone.

Captain Mike

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