Leviathan’s of the Sea
Leviathan’s of the Sea: A poem by Caroline Aguiar
Gentle Giants of the sea
once hunted and persecuted by men in their greedy glee.
Your presence is intoxicating, your size and strength intimidating,
what am I emanating but love and admiration for thee?
If one day, I find myself submerged underwater with you,
Your kind eyes and forgiving ways will live in my memories the rest
of my days.
Gentle Whale, leviathans of the sea may God protect you for all eternity.
It’s not unusual for people who live up and down the California coast to see Gray Whale pods migrating south to warmer Mexican waters.
Each year at the end of December, Gray Whales travel from icy Arctic waters, roughly 12,000 miles round-trip, to their breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexico. The San Ignacio Lagoon, Ojo de Liebre, also known as Scammon’s Lagoon, and Bahia Magdalena are “home” to the California Gray Whale.
Born in 1825, Charles Melville Scammon was a 19th-century whaleman, naturalist, and author. He was the first to hunt Gray Whales of Laguna Ojo de Liebre and in the San Ignacio Lagoon. In modern times, Ojo de Liebre is better known as Scammon’s lagoon named after Charles Scammon. Visitors worldwide travel to Scammon’s Lagoon and San Ignacio to visit the whales in their natural habitat.
My husband and I are tourist guides. In January we take groups of visitors to see the whales in San Ignacio. The whales begin to arrive in the lagoon at the beginning of January and stay while breeding and giving birth until the end of May when they start the long journey back up the California coast to Arctic waters. If you love whales and crave the chance for an intimate encounter with these magnificent creatures, this is the place to be.
Originally a fishing village, San Ignacio became the most popular site for visiting the whales in 1979. The lagoon was declared a sanctuary for the whales, and in 1988, Mexico established El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve to include the lagoon. Now a UNESCO world heritage site and Latin America’s largest wildlife sanctuary, this protected area has allowed the whales to repopulate significantly.
At this moment, my husband is in San Ignacio with a group of fourteen people. I couldn’t go this year, but he sent me videos and pictures of their excursions on the sea and of the friendly whales who swam up to the boat to check out their visitors. It’s not unusual for them to swim alongside the boats. Surprisingly, they are just as curious about us as we are about them.
Once in a while, a mother will bring her young calf up close to the boats for the visitors to admire. At the eco-lodge where the group stays, oceanographers and marine biologists know precisely how many males, females, and calves are in the lagoon and how many enter the lagoon every day.
I visit the San Ignacio Lagoon once a year, and every time I return, I feel as if I’m coming home. It’s hard to describe, but there is something inherently magical about this place. Maybe it’s the natural beauty of my surroundings, the ocean, the whales, and their peaceful presence.
At night, I look at the starry sky, and it appears as if every star in the universe is highly magnified and shining brighter than the one next to it.
At sunset, the sky glows with hues of pink, yellow, and orange as if absently thrown across a clear, open canvas; our sky. If you’re lucky, at night, when all is quiet, you might hear a whale rise to the surface and blow from its air hole. You’ll know a whale is near because the sound echoes across the water.
From the biblical tale of Jonah to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, whales have long captured the human imagination. They spend the better part of their lives submerged in the watery depths of the sea. Sometimes we catch fleeting glimpses of these enormous, gentle creatures when they fluke, and breach only deepening our curiosity and our eagerness to communicate in some way with the largest and friendliest animals on Earth.
Many indigenous tribes feel a deep kinship with the whales, such as the Māori of New Zealand, the Hawaiians, the Inuit, and the Aborigines of Australia. Whales are magnificent and gentle creatures. For those who feel a strong kinship with these animals, the symbolism of the Whale Animal Spirit means magnificence, communication, music, protection, gratitude, wisdom, and transformation.
If you seek forgiveness, kindness, and truth, you need not look any further than into the eye of a whale.