One of the most magical times of the year in Sayulita starts in November and lasts through April. Starting in the late fall, if you look just beyond the ocean’s horizon, you will see why. It might be a puff of smoke, a small hovering cloud that disappears in seconds, or if you are lucky, a fin or a tail or maybe the whole 50 tons of majestic animal that jumps out of the water. The migration of the Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) has begun.
Humpback whales, known as “Jorobadas” locally, pass by Sayulita in the early part of winter as they head south to mate and birth their calves, as well as in the spring, on the return trip to feeding grounds. From the main beach in Sayulita, you can often see whales frolicking, just at the mouth of our small bay; views from the hilltops above Carricitos Beach allow them to be spotted on the wide open horizon. Boat trips, leaving from Sayulita (about a one-hour trip to reach the inside of the bay where whales can be often found), is a great way to search out these magical creatures. The trip usually last about 2-3 hours, including travel and spotting time. Often, the tour will include a “drive-by” of the Marietta Islands, where native species, such as Blue-footed Boobies may be spotted, as well as feeding the numerous schools of brightly-colored fish that surround the islands. It is almost a guarantee to see whales during the season. Often you may see a mother with a newborn calf, or groups of male whales pursuing a female in what are called “mating groups,” battling with their opponents at times. The Humpbacks may be slowing lolling along the surface, or lifting their heads out of the water to “spy hop.” Humpback whales are known as the most acrobatic of whales and are able to launch their massive bodies or “breach,” in what is thought to perhaps attract mates, for defining territory or even perhaps for eliminating unwanted parasites.
Humpback whales are distinctive in that their pectoral fins are 1/3 the size of their 50-foot body length, about 15 feet. They use their fins to slap the water’s surface as they play or fight, but seen from underneath, they appear to be flying, effortlessly soaring through the ocean. As the whales surface to breath with their two blow holes (situated on the top of their heads), the sound that pervades the silence of the sea is something that haunts dreams. If you listen carefully, in just the right location, the echoing song of the Humpback whales can be heard through the floorboards of the boat, or with a hydrophone. Be still and marvel; these are some of the greatest creatures on earth to witness, and they too like to visit the Banderas bay area.
by Octavia Jolley