Magdalena Bay (Bahia Magdalena in Spanish) is a 50 km long bay located in Comondu Municipality along the western coast of Mexican state of Baja California Sur. The bay is protected from the Pacific by the sandy barrier islands of Isla Santa Margarita and Isla Magdalena.
Magdalena Bay is particularly noted for seasonal migration of California gray whales coming here to mate during winter. The bay is also popular for sports and commercial fishing. Nearby mangrove swamps offer sanctuaries for sea birds. Magdalena Bay includes the small San Carlos fishing port, as well as Puerto Lopez Mateos, providing a good spot to observe the whales.
American whaleships visited Magdalena Bay in 1837 to cooper oil and hunt sperm whales. Between 1845-1846 and 1865-1866, American, as well as a few Russian, French and Dutch whaleships hunted gray whales in Magdalena Bay during winter calving season. They caught primarily cows and calves, but started catching bulls as the former were already scarce. During peak years from winters of 1855-1856 to 1864-1865, an estimated 1250 gray whales were caught, with a peak of 250 whales taken by 17 vessels in the winter of 1856-1857. They also visited to obtain wood, catch turtles and fish, and harvest oysters.
In 1908, American fleet of 16 battleships on a world cruise, the Great White Fleet, stopped in Magdalena Bay to carry out gunnery practice. There were rumors in 1912 that Japan had tried to purchase the harbor from Mexico. The book The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara Tuchman mentions both the Japanese Emperor and the German kaiser were attempting to utilize the bay and probably Whale Bay for military naval purposes.
Highlights: Whale calving lagoon
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