Saving Baja Blue Whales for Generations to Come

Field Inspection link

National Geographic Sea Bird, Gulf of California–Since life began on Earth there has not been any animal bigger than one that lives amongst us today: the blue whale. To see this behemoth in the ocean directly in front of you, blasting a spray of water perhaps 30 feet into the air as it comes up for breath, is humbling — not only because of the animal’s enormous power and size, but also because we humans came very close to wiping it out at the height of the whaling industry in the 19th Century.

All Scientists on Deck

The National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration was holding its grant-making meeting in the dining room of the cruise ship National Geographic Sea Bird last week when Lindblad Expeditions President Sven-Olof Lindblad, the expedition leader, interrupted proceedings to report that a blue whale was just in front of the ship. The meeting adjourned at once and a dozen scientists rushed up to the forward deck to take a look. Was that the first time in CRE history that a whale had disrupted a meeting?

On its week-long field inspection through the Gulf of California, the CRE came across only that one blue whale — but then it was a little early in the season to find blue whales in that part of the sea, according to the blue whale expert accompanying the delegation, Diane Gendron.

A project director with Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (CICIMAR-IPN), Gendron has been monitoring and studying individual blue whales in the Gulf of California for 25 years. Blue whales are monitored passively through photographs of their unique markings as well as the enormous amount of genetic, diet, and health information that may be teased out of their copious poop. (Scientists follow the giant mammals to skim their feces —> Read More