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Among the most iconic inhabitants of the Sea of Cortez are the gray whales, which migrate to the area every winter to give birth and mate.
Gray whales were once hunted to the brink of extinction, but conservation efforts have helped to rebuild their populations. Today, the species is classified as "least concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and visitors to the Sea of Cortez can witness these magnificent creatures up close.
One of the best places to see gray whales is Bahia Magdalena, a lagoon on the west coast of the Baja Peninsula. From January to March, hundreds of gray whales congregate in the shallow waters of the lagoon to mate and give birth. Visitors can take guided tours to observe the whales from small boats, and some tours even allow visitors to get in the water and snorkel with the whales.
Gray whales are known for their friendly and curious nature, and encounters with these gentle giants are often a highlight of a trip to the Sea of Cortez. Visitors may see mothers and calves swimming together, or males competing for the attention of females. They may also witness the impressive breaching behavior of the whales, in which they launch their massive bodies out of the water and crash back down with a splash.
In addition to being a popular tourist attraction, gray whales play an important ecological role. As they migrate between their feeding grounds in the Arctic and their breeding grounds in Mexico, they transport nutrients and energy from one ecosystem to another. Their presence also supports the local economy through ecotourism, providing jobs and income for local communities.