- Date: March 30, 2021
- Author: Alison Henry
Up north, WWF helped restrict seismic surveys that were shown to displace gray whales from their feeding ground and campaigned to stop an offshore oil drilling platform from being built in gray whale habitat.
Our boat veered from the shoreline into more open water and slowed to a crawl. Eight pairs of eyes scanned the surface watching for that telltale blow and giant gray body breaking the surface of the water. After a few minutes, we spotted not just one spout of water, but two. A mama and her baby. We navigated closer with caution to feel out the situation. Some whales don’t care to be bothered while others, known as friendly whales, express a keen curiosity about nearby boats and the humans on them.
We got lucky. This duo seemed to want to know as much about us as we about them. They hovered near the surface of the water, often breaking it, as we floated beside them. Soon, the calf drifted onto its side we got a clear look into a beautiful, milky eye.
Making eye contact with a whale—this majestic, massive, graceful, wild creature—is nothing short of ethereal. It’s an immediate connection, desired by both parties and born of mutual inquisitiveness, that lacks any sort of justifiable framing in language. It’s pure magic.
The calf swam up to the boat several more times and then left us. Just as we were about to head back to the expedition ship, the mother whale shot out of the water in an awesome breach. Moments later, as if receiving a lesson, the calf mimicked the action. It felt like a poetic “thank you and goodbye.”
Those of us on the boat felt a certain giddiness vibrating through our bones. The experience at La Boca de Soledad is one you can only understand if you set out to these waters yourself—open and willing for your life to change with a single look.