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Mexico: Track Gray Whales

National Geographic Adventure  pick the 25 best new outfitted trips.
Text by Bonnie Tsui   Photograph courtesy of Earthwatch
Photo: Watching on whales
Getting to know Baja's gray whales

WHAT'S NEW: For at least as long as scientists have studied them, a massive population of Pacific gray whales has spent summers feeding in the Bering Sea and winters mating off Baja California Sur. But recent observations suggest that this annual migration pattern has been upset, and the whales now seek sources of food outside of the Bering Sea. "There's a big change afoot," says William Megill, Ph.D., a lecturer at the University of Bath, in England, and the leader of this Earthwatch Institute expedition. "Some of the whales are looking for feeding grounds near British Columbia and down in Mexico. We're examining whether or not there is any room for them in these new habitats—a hungry whale can do a lot of damage to an ecosystem." 

ON THE GROUND:
 As a volunteer with Megill, you'll spend most days in small skiffs, spotting and photo-identifying whales, recording population stats, and assisting with navigation. You'll also help the local community build wind-powered generators. Downtime is spent relaxing on the edge of a blue tropical lagoon. "You'll have 250 whales outside your tent and meaningful connections with the local communities," says Megill. "That's what really gets people excited about being down here."

Vitals

Outfitter:
Earthwatch Institute (www.earthwatch.org)

Length:
Six days

Price:
$2,395

Difficulty:
Easy

Departs:
January through March


Cover: Adventure magazine

Our November 2006 issue features the best new adventure travel trips; an exclusive look inside Iran; a Greenland global warming report; backcountry spas; digital cameras; travel Web sites; weekend getaways; and more.

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