January 2017 Whale Watching Report Puerto Vallarta

It is always exciting to look back at the month and recount all the amazing whale watching encounters – January 2017 was no different. This is the whale watching report for Whale Watch Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! Not only did we see Humpback Whales on every tour during the month of January, most tours also saw Sea Turtles, over 50% of our tours saw Giant Manta Rays and over 40% of our tours saw either Bottlenose or Spotted Dolphins. The highest number of Humpback Whales seen on one tour was 15! That is wonderful after a slow season last year due to the warm waters brought by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

In January 2017 the trend of baby Humpback Whale sightings continued with 4 (or more) seen throughout the month. It is often hard to determine if we have previously spotted a particular baby Humpback as the characteristics we use for identifying adult Humpback Whales are not present in the babies. Instead we must rely on identifying the Mother, which means getting a photo of the underside of the tail fluke – but…mother Humpbacks tend not to fluke dive when they have a baby. So – it can be a challenge to document individual baby Humpbacks in the Bay of Puerto Vallarta.

January is typically the month of the season when the number of Humpback Whales in the bay reaches its peak. This can lead to a heightened level of activity as the male whales are here to find a mate – this often translates to competition which means displays and chasing the female Humpbacks. This January was no different with numerous observations of courting behaviours observed as well as several heat runs.

A heat run occurs when either; a female Humpback becomes receptive to mating or several male whales decide to harass a female Humpback who is not necessarily interested. In either case, the level of activity rises, the male Humpbacks aggressively chase the female and attack other male Humpbacks while in the chase pack. In the case of a heat run, much of the action happens underwater, males body slamming and cutting off each other all while in pursuit of a female and the hope that they will be able to mate.

What do we expect to see in February on our whale watching tours? We expect the baby Humpback Whales will become more active. As they grow and strengthen, they need to flex their growing bodies and muscles – often this means long periods of heightened activity such as breaching, tail slapping and head lunges. February is usually quite good for spotting Dolphins in the bay as well, so we expect the success rate of dolphin encounters to rise too.

A warm ‘Thank You’ to everyone who joined our little whale watching tours here in Puerto Vallarta this January 2017. We appreciate you sharing your vacation time with us and we hope that we will see you all again for more adventures with the wonderful whales of Puerto Vallarta 🙂

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