Excitement is running high here on National Geographic Venture. Today is our day to travel to San Ignacio Lagoon, winter home of the very friendly California gray whales. We are up pre-dawn and loading into our bus for a trip across the peninsula to the little Jesuit-inspired town of San Ignacio. From there we will travel to the shoreline, where our pangas wait to take us out into the lagoon looking for mothers with their young calves.

Our pangas spread out in search of our blubbery friends, and almost immediately we encounter three mothers, each with very young calves. The adults lift their massive heads out of the water in a behavior known as spy-hopping. Eye-to-eye with these leviathans we cruise amongst the whales. The mothers allow their babies to approach our pangas, much to the delight of all on board. Playful calves come very close to our boats, and a couple of baby gray whales actually deign to be petted and stroked. Everyone aboard felt that child-like wonder of being in the close presence of another sentient being. What a marvelous opportunity to interact with these friendly whales of San Ignacio Lagoon!