PUERTO ADOLFO LÓPEZ MATEOS, MÉXICOAs early morning fog lifts off the Baja California coastline, Alushe Camacho steers a small fishing boat through a mangrove-lined estuary, his eyes fixed on the horizon. During most of the year, Camacho hunts grouper, sole, and hammerhead sharks. Today he’s in search of gray whales.
After several minutes Camacho spies his target: a heart-shaped cloud of ocean spray erupting from the water. Suddenly an adult whale thrusts its tapered head straight through the surface, pausing for five long seconds before disappearing under the waves.
Encounters like these have for decades drawn tourists to this marshy stretch of Mexico, where each winter thousands of Eastern Pacific gray whales arrive from Alaska’s Arctic. Here the adults mate, and females give birth and rear