Laguna San Ignacio

In 1993 the United Nations declared San Ignacio Lagoon a World Heritage site because of its importance to endangered species and other marine mammals. The fisherman from the local village kept their livelihood, as fishing was swapped for licences to give nature tours.

Four of the seven species of sea turtles feed here, and it is one of only two undeveloped nursery and breeding grounds in the world for the Pacific Gray Whale.

After reading about it in the guidebooks we thought it was a must see. Whilst it is only a short distance from Punta Abreojos, getting there is more difficult. You can anchor just outside the Lagoon in fair weather, but the bar that protects the lagoon makes it difficult to impossible for sailboats to enter. You can also drive, but whilst it's only 15 as the crow flies, it's a good 2 hours drive by car.

We were lucky enough to make a friend in Abreojos, and he had never been and wanted to do some fishing outside the park.

So at 8am after tying the dinghy up, we walked up the road with our new friend Surfer John (a fellow cruiser on his way to the Pacific) and met Ray. Ray drove us out to Coyote lagoon and we launched his boat. It didn't take Ray long to get down to the mouth of the San Ignacio, but after being unable to raise any of the whale watching boats on the radio we headed into the restricted Lagoon. We could already see a lot of whales.

Eventually we got the attention of the Park Ranger who told us to head off to the side and anchor. He called for a whale watching panga and we were set.

The lagoon is large, stretching sixteen miles into the desert and has a maximum width of five miles. The whales use three sections: The upper lagoon is the shallowest and is the birthing area where pregnant females bear their young, this area is completely off limits. The middle lagoon is the corridor where mothers travel with their newborn calves to the lower lagoon. The lower lagoon is where we would have our tour. The majority of cetaceans reside here and this is what the whales feed on. It is also where most of the social behaviour occurs. Males and females congregate looking for mates early in the season and newborn calves prepare themselves for the long journey north to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic.

Our Panga arrived and it was time to do our tour. Just the four of us on the boat, Ray, Surfer John and us. A private tour. I really don't need to write much more...

The whale use their tales in the shallow waters to stir up the small cetaceans, and then come up out of the water to collect them.

The whale will come super close, but they are aware of the panga's. The previous day some people for another yacht we able to pat a calve when the mother bought it alongside the panga they were in. This is fairly common.

We were a little unlucky with the weather, a squall came through and the wind on the water made the whales a little more cautious.

The 2 hours went quick and the panga driver dropped us back at our boat and we headed out for a spot of fishing just of Coyote Lagoon.

Ashley was a little unsure about holding the fish by its gills

The sun was starting to set when we finally pulled the boat out of the water at Coyote Lagoon. It was an amazing experience and we can't thank Ray enough for helping us get there to see it.