La Jolla tourists take magical trip to see whales in Baja

YouTube Preview Image

By Dave Schwab
Staff Writer

A three-day trip to see the gray whale nursery at Scammon’s Lagoon was an “otherworldly” experience, said a tour group of 30 La Jollans, which included renowned Scripps oceanographers Walter Munk and Gustaf Olof Svante Arrhenius, as well as former University of California President and UCSD Chancellor Robert Dynes and his wife Ann Parode Dynes.

“Magical, life-changing,” was how Nigella Hillgarth, executive director of Birch Aquarium at Scripps, described the March encounter. “To get close to a large mammal and their babies, see their eyes — I think everybody should try and get down to the lagoon and check it out.”

Munk said, “If you didn’t have any religion when you went down, you certainly did when you came home.”

The birthing grounds of the migrating gray whale is located near the town of Guerrero Negro, in an extensive Baja lagoon averaging 7 miles wide more than 27 miles inland. About 350 miles south of San Diego, the lagoon was named for whaling Capt. Charles M. Scammon who “discovered” it in 1857, though it was known earlier to Spanish and Mexican explorers.

Scammon at first decided to exterminate the whales before realizing his mistake, then dedicated his life to saving them, according to Wikipedia.

The gray whales congregate in this lagoon during winter to mate, give birth and let their calves grow enough to withstand the long north migration. Up to 2,000 whales and their calves can be found in the lagoon during the peak of the season.

Terry Kraszewski, a La Jolla Shores surf boutique owner who went on the trip, said, “I just felt so connected to them (whales) and the ocean.”

The experience was especially poignant for La Jolla community activist Mary Coakley, who was in the midst of a project to create a life-sized bronze sculpture of J.J., the Orphaned Baby Gray Whale rescued by Sea World which now rests in Kellogg Park playground in La Jolla Shores.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” said Coakley. “This gave J.J. such a real dimension. I don’t want to say it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip because I want to go back next year.”

Kraszewski, an avowed whale lover, said the opportunity to connect with such awe-inspiring creatures was precious.

“The trust you saw, they kept coming to us time and again to let us touch them and to look in their eyes … They’re so powerful and so big, the size of a city bus … All we could do was grin and cry and hug afterward.”

Related posts:

  1. Interpretive panels to tell stories along La Jolla’s coast
  2. Little-known Ansel Adams photos of UCSD on display
  3. Walter Munk reflects on UCSD’s impact on La Jolla
  4. J.J. the Orphaned Baby Gray Whale arrives at La Jolla Shores
  5. Mount Soledad Association to salute ‘Pappy’ Boyington on Memorial Day

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=42943

Posted by Dave Schwab on Jun 8, 2011. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “La Jolla tourists take magical trip to see whales in Baja”

  1. Bob Pocius

    Terry Kraszewski is the real deal. I was fortunate to have met her
    recently and we swapped our experiences with our giant friends.
    She is passionate about the environment and especially whales.
    When you expeience them up close, you realize how precious and
    Gentle they are. How they can trust man after all the years of
    slaughter is amazing. Mr. Munk is right, if more of us had these
    experiences, we would raise awareness and pressure government
    to put an end to whaling and dolphin slaughter.

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Motorcyclist killed in accident near Del Mar Fairgrounds July 21, 2014
    The motorcyclist killed in a two-vehicle crash near the Del Mar Fairgrounds over the weekend was identified July 21 as a 22-year-old Escondido man. Alexander Mackenzie Williams was headed west on Via de la Valle near Jimmy Durante Boulevard at a high rate of speed shortly before 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 20, when he lost control and swerved into oncoming traffi […]
  • Bestselling author Jojo Moyes discusses her novels with fans at Del Mar Country Club luncheon July 21, 2014
    “On my last book tour, I had a day off in Portland and it was very nice,” said bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes at a luncheon recently held at the Del Mar Country Club. Then she paused, looked around and added, “But I can tell you a day off in La Jolla is better.” The British author definitely knows how to please an audience – as evidenced not just by the war […]
  • Solana Beach employee featured at City Hall Gallery July 21, 2014
    From Monday through Friday, David Kloz works as a management analyst for the city of Solana Beach. When he’s not at work, Kloz is often outside with a camera. A collection of his photos is currently on exhibit at his workplace, the Solana Beach City Hall. It’s the amateur photographer’s first ever show. “I’m curious to see what the response is going to be,” […]