Scammon’s Lagoon Baja California Sur

 Scammon’s Lagoon (Laguna Ojo de Liebre)

Baja California Sur

by Bill and Dorothy Bell

Scammonslagoon

Drive the Transpeninsular Highway 1 down through the Baja, just past the border of the States of Baja California and head south into Baja California Sur past the town of Guerrero Negro to KM 208. It is well marked. Take the access road of approximately 25 miles on good flat dirt/gravel past and over salt flats and the access gate. ( These salt flats are the largest natural outdoor salt facility in the world; ½ owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation and ½ by the Mexican Government) 

You have arrived at an experience of a lifetime.

Scammonslagoon2

Scammon’s Lagoon or Laguna Ojo de Liebre ( Spanish for Eye of the jackrabbit) is located in the largest Biosphere Reserve in Latin America. The gray whales migrate annually from the Bering and Chukchi seas in the Artic to the Lagoon – some 6000 miles – as part of their biological cycle. Scammon’s is the primary calving lagoon in Baja.

Scammonslagoon3The whales live here during the winter in these protected calm waters, giving birth before the long trek back to the north. The warm waters and shallow bays are a perfect breeding ground for these magnificent mammals.

Charles Melville Scammon, an American whaling captain, discovered the entrance to a lagoon in 1857 and proceeded to hunt – some say slaughter – the graceful mammals for their oil, whalebone, and meat. The population of whales at that time was estimated to be around 30,000 and by 1869 the population dwindled to less than 2,000 – near extinction. In 1972 the Mexican Government created the Gray Whale Sanctuary. After International treaties and a concerted effort to ensure this species survival, the population is now estimated at 20,000 with an estimated 1,500 whales making Scammon’s their winter home.

Scammonslagoon1From the end of December to late March, tours can be arranged from Guerrero Negro (approximately $45) for a 4 hour exploration of the inner areas and the Lagoon with an authorized guide. Or you can drive the gravel and salt flat road yourself and take a guided panga ride for 1 ½ hours right at the lagoon entrance for $25 per adult and $15 per child.

Private boats and kayaks are prohibited from entering the waters and only licensed tour boats are allowed. It is protected by SEMARNAP, the Mexican Secretary of Environmental and Natural Resources and Fisheries and is a restricted sanctuary for migratory birds ( Canadian Geese, fishing eagle, white pelican, cormorants to name few) and marine mammals. It is recognized by UNESCO’ Man and Biosphere program.

Scammonslagoon4The boat tour will amaze you. Each boat motors out to the mouth of the lagoon with guide and a dozen or so other passengers. Bring your camera! You get to see whale after whale. Some bob along the water and others dive straight up into the air with their noses aimed at the sky- then sink vertically back down into the waters. Slowly. Meticulously. Blowing.

An Experience of a lifetime.   

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