Why do Gray Whales appear “Curious” about Whale-Watchers?

(originally published in September 2016)

Why curious about people in small boats?

When I speak to eco-tourists visiting Laguna San Ignacio they frequently ask me “Why are gray whales in Laguna San Ignacio ‘curious’ about people in small boats? Why do they swim up to our whale-watching boat and allow us to touch them? Why will female whales bring their calves to our boat to be petted and rubbed by the whale-watchers?”

The short answer is “we don’t know”, because we are not gray whales, and we will never understand completely the whale’s interest in approaching whale-watching boats. However, after 30-years and thousands of hours observing gray whale behavior around boats, I can share with you my thoughts on the special circumstances that contribute to the “curious” whale behavior that we see in Laguna San Ignacio.

Mary Lou and I first encountered “curious” or “friendly” gray whales in the late 1970s while conducting research on the gray whales in Laguna San Ignacio…. (read more below)

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