When you go to San Ignacio, you hear immediately about their friendly whales and the numerous encounters they have where whales allow the watchers to touch them and even “play” with them! The guides ensure that these encounters are the whale’s choice – they will not pursue a whale or force one into a position where the boat controls the behavior. They will cruise alongside a whale (or more frequently, a mother whale and calf) until the whale takes the initiative to move closer to the boat. In many cases, the female whale will encourage or even push the calf towards the sciffs. The resultant interactions can last from a few seconds to over an hour. Here’s a picture of some happy campers (above and below the water) enjoying each other’s company….
We had two such encounters in our three days on the lagoon – both for extended periods of time with the whale(s) moving back and forth to different sides of the boat, rubbing its back on the underside of the boat, and allowing everyone frequent opportunities to touch the whales. My wife Dee noticed our guide gently pushing a baby’s nose back into the water – after he told her that some whales considered this a “game”, she also had the opportunity to take turns with the whale in pushing back and forth. We also had the opportunity to tickle the whale’s mouth which resulted in the whale opening its mouth and allowing us to feel the baleen that it uses to filter its food – quite an experience! The whales would also sometimes push the boat with their noses as part of the game. Nothing like playing with a new found friend – especially when the friend is 16-40 ft long and weighs between 1 (at birth) and 40 tons!