Jessica Engler has worked on the Smithsonian Journeys marketing team since 2006, editing and reviewing all online tours, managing our monthly e-newsletter, and providing editorial support for the Journeys blog as well as printed publications. A graduate of James Madison University, she has also worked for Shakespeare’s Globe in London and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. Here, Jessica shares her reflections on our Among the Great Whales adventure.
Stuck in a cube all day often times looking at fabulous travel images, I often find myself daydreaming of past journeys that I have been on. Two years ago, I joined Smithsonian travelers in balmy, dry Baja for one week in February. From the moment I stepped aboard our expedition ship, the National Geographic Sea Lion, I instantly forgot freezing Washington.
For the first few days of the journey, we devoted our mornings to observing gray whales. Every year, thousands of gray whales migrate to the protective waters of Bahia Magdalena to breed, give birth, and nurture their vulnerable offspring. So each day, we boarded zodiacs (small inflatable motorized boats that can hold up to 15 people) in search of these fascinating mammals.
Lucky whale watchers meet and greet some friendly gray whales while out exploring in a zodiac off the coast of Baja California.
For three days, we followed the gray whales and watched as they nursed, played, and interacted with each other. The time spent among these majestic animals was truly memorable, but it was our final day of whale watching that I most cherish. That morning we departed as usual with a local driver, a naturalist, and approximately 10 eager passengers, including myself. We cruised for 30 minutes before we sighted a mother and calf pair and slowly approached for a better view. Our driver, well versed in the practice of keeping a non-threatening distance, maneuvered us to a slow idle. (more…)