2023 Annual Gray Whale Report for Laguna San Ignacio and Bahía Magdalena, B.C.S., México

2023 Annual Gray Whale Report for Laguna San Ignacio and Bahía Magdalena, B.C.S., México

By Steven Swartz

May 13, 2023

Two gray whales at the surface of a calm sea

2023 Gray Whale Research Program Summary

Beginning in 2018 observations of declining gray whale body condition, low calf counts, and higher mortality rates in both Laguna San Ignacio and Bahía Magdalena were indications of the pending Unusual Mortality Event (UME) which has continued from 2019 through 2023. However, information gathered in in 2023 in these southernmost gray whale wintering areas suggests that the UME may be slowing in 2023 and include: fewer individual whales in “poor” body condition, the first increase in the numbers of calves observed during the previous 5 winters of low female-calf counts, and fewer stranded dead whales in these wintering lagoon areas.

In this report we present our initial findings during the 2023 winter concerning the status of gray whales, their condition and reproduction, and our outreach activities from hosting university students on field trips, to introducing the public to a new gray whale research and whale-watching monitoring program in Bahía Magdalena.

Read entire 2023 annual report here