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We’re having a Whale of a Time…Humpback Season is Here!

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Where else can you hop on a boat, head out to sea, and be almost guaranteed to witness frolicking humpback whales in their natural habitat? And taking it up a notch, whale sightings are commonplace from both the Punta Mita Residents’ Beach Club, and Hotel CINCO’s rooftop Local harvest restaurant and Barefoot Bar. Meaning, you can have cocktails with your viewings, if you like.

Each year, in months between December and April, humpback whales migrate into Banderas Bay from their northern feeding sites, over 6,000 miles (10,000 km.) away. While here “on vacation”, they mate, breed, sing, and become downright playful, providing us humans with quite the show.

But this year has been specially good for whale watching. During this 2012, an unusually large number of humpback whales are visiting the Banderas Bay. They come here on their annual migration, but this year’s numbers are allowing for even more frequent sightings.

Whales usually come to the region during the winter for mating and breeding but according to our local experts,  this year a change in their feeding patterns has created some unusual viewing opportunities. Before arriving to Banderas Bay,  the whales spent the previous months gorging on krill and herring, up to half a ton a day, off the coast of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Normally whales pass schools of sardines without showing any interest, but this winter has been different  – our annual VIP guests have been feeding intensively and extensively on these small fish.  This helps to explain why larger groups of whales have been reported frequently this winter — this is how they find food, by working in larger teams of up to 30 members using drag and cornering techniques to catch fish banks.

While onshore viewing is convenient, and with certain benefits, up close and personal is the real treat. Among our favored outfitters to take you out on your whale photo safari is Vallarta Adventures. They’ve shared with LivePuntaMita.com a few of their favorite Fun Humpback Whale Facts:

  • Known for breaching and their complex, tonal songs
  • They can dive to 500-700 feet (150-210 meters)
  • They can hold their breath for 30 minutes
  • They have two blowholes through which they breathe
  • Their tails are up to 12 feet wide
  • Their calves weigh 1,500 lbs (700 kg) when born
  • They can live for 45-50 years