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Guide to whales
With the same regularity that the sun comes up every day, hundreds of humpback whales arrive punctually in the Colombian Pacific every year in July, fleeing the cold of winter near the South Pole and avid for warm water.
These tropical waters of Colombia enable the females to give birth, feed, and teach their young how to breathe, while the males take advantage of an unsurpassable environment to court the females and continue the species.
Bahía Solano, Nuquí, Gorgona National Natural Park, and Bahía Málaga (in Buenaventura) have the best infrastructure for travelers attracted by this memorable spectacle.
It is not an exaggeration to state that the presence of these enormous mammals is one of nature’s most beautiful and hallucinating shows, as well as a confirmation of its wisdom and orderliness.
In this case, order is evident in the simultaneous arrival in the month of July of the first cetaceans at the end of a long trip.
Thanks to a 25º C temperature in the Pacific Ocean of the Colombian coasts, it is possible to have these colossal mammals honor the country with their arrival, presence, and near four-month-long stay.
Whales travel approximately 8,500 km to stay until October and turn several Colombian natural paradises into the best platforms for observing this phenomenon.
In spite of the whales’ huge size and their proximity to shallow beaches, watching them is a safe activity, as long as an appropriate distance is kept. This is true especially when observing them from boats, where spectators find it difficult to curb their enthusiasm and like to take off to see the unique, stable relation between mothers and their young that begins at birth and ends a year later when the calves are weaned. The Colombian coasts are the main locations of this beautiful gift from marine fauna.
Young whales measure close to four meters in length and may weigh up to a ton and a half. Whales reach sexual maturity sometime between three and six years of age.
Adult whales are between eighteen and thirty meters in length and can reach up to forty tons in the case of males. Under natural conditions, whales may live to the age of sixty.
Ecologist César Isaza, who never fails his appointment with whales, describes them in the following words:
…During their continuous movement from one place to another, whales dazzle with the impressive scenes they offer. When they come out of the water to breathe, they give off through their spiracle a shot of steam of up to seven meters, which may be seen from a distance of several kilometers. Just before submerging, they curve their back as if in slow motion until they exhibit the enormous, slender tail they then hide in the water. Frequently, cetaceans adopt a horizontal position and shake one of their pectoral fins, hitting the surface of the water, as if waving from a distance.
According to research, between 10 and 15% of whale births in the southeastern Pacific Ocean take place in Málaga Bay, not far from Buenaventura.