With the same regularity that the sun comes up every day, hundreds of humpback whales arrive punctually in the Colombian Pacific every year in July, fleeing the cold of winter near the South Pole and avid for warm water.
These tropical waters of Colombia enable the females to give birth, feed, and teach their young how to breathe, while the males take advantage of an unsurpassable environment to court the females and continue the species.
It is not an exaggeration to state that the presence of these enormous mammals is one of nature’s most beautiful and hallucinating shows, as well as a confirmation of its wisdom and orderliness.
In this case, order is evident in the simultaneous arrival in the month of July of the first cetaceans at the end of a long trip.
Thanks to a 25º C temperature in the Pacific Ocean of the Colombian coasts, it is possible to have these colossal mammals honor the country with their arrival, presence, and near four-month-long stay.
Whales travel approximately 8,500 km to stay until October and turn several Colombian natural paradises into the best platforms for observing this phenomenon.
In spite of the whales’ huge size and their proximity to shallow beaches, watching them is a safe activity, as long as an appropriate distance is kept. This is true especially when observing them from boats, where spectators find it difficult to curb their enthusiasm and like to take off to see the unique, stable relation between mothers and their young that begins at birth and ends a year later when the calves are weaned. The Colombian coasts are the main locations of this beautiful gift from marine fauna.
Young whales measure close to four meters in length and may weigh up to a ton and a half. Whales reach sexual maturity sometime between three and six years of age.
Adult whales are between eighteen and thirty meters in length and can reach up to forty tons in the case of males. Under natural conditions, whales may live to the age of sixty.
Ecologist César Isaza, who never fails his appointment with whales, describes them in the following words:
…During their continuous movement from one place to another, whales dazzle with the impressive scenes they offer. When they come out of the water to breathe, they give off through their spiracle a shot of steam of up to seven meters, which may be seen from a distance of several kilometers. Just before submerging, they curve their back as if in slow motion until they exhibit the enormous, slender tail they then hide in the water. Frequently, cetaceans adopt a horizontal position and shake one of their pectoral fins, hitting the surface of the water, as if waving from a distance.
Whale watching destinations in Colombia
- Bahía Solano
- The various beaches of Bahía Solano, in the Gulf of Cupica (in the department of Chocó, on Colombia’s Pacific Coast) are a privileged place for admiring the show put on by the whales. Several hotels in the area have the necessary equipment and experience to transfer travelers to the site of the fabulous whale watching.
- Also in the department of Chocó, the municipality of Nuquí (Colombian Pacific), in the Gulf of Tribugá, is a strategic site for observing the arrival and presence of whales. The hosts of several hotels there offer all their know-how to make possible this rendezvous with nature.
- Gorgona National Natural Park
- The view is just as spectacular from the Gorgona National Natural Park in the department of Cauca (Colombian Pacific) and Málaga Bay in Buenaventura, department of Valle del Cauca. In the latter, there is a site known as Negritos, where the number of whale birth is considerable.