Video of a whale lifting its baby for tourists in Mexico to pet in March 2012 has recently caught international attention, garnering nearly 8 million views (video below).
A gray whale calf was swimming through San Ignacio Lagoon when she spotted the tourists and approached them, Little Things reports.
As those on board reached over to pet her, the mother whale lifted her baby up so the tourists could touch them both.
“We would never approach the whales directly, but waited at a respectful distance of about 20-30 feet of a visible whale and calf to see if they would approach us. The initiative was always in the whales’ court,” said Barbara MacGillivray, who was on the boat, writes One World One Ocean on its blog.
“Frequently, it seemed like the mother wanted us to see her calf, actively pushing the calf close to our boat,” MacGillivray added.
While the boaters and many worldwide were shocked by the behavior, experts explain friendliness is common in this species.
“The gray whales in San Ignacio Lagoon frequently approach small tourist boats, seeking the human interaction. While they could easily avoid the people, whose small boats are not allowed to closely approach whales, they actually seem to enjoy making contact,” said One World One Ocean.
This unusual meeting wouldn’t be the first the tourists would have that trip.
MacGillivray said on her last day exploring San Ignacio Lagoon, a mother whale approached them again.
This time, it appeared she was asking them to help her baby, who had a lobster trap line stuck in its mouth.
“It seemed to all of us that the mother wanted help and we all felt a profound sense of helplessness,” MacGillivray said.
While it seemed the calf’s chances of survival were slim, they called a resident scientist to take care of the baby. It is unclear what young whale’s fate was.
Incidents like these happen rarely in San Ignacio Lagoon. MacGillivray’s tour guide said he has only seen such entanglements occur three times in more than 12 seasons at the lagoon.
Whales elsewhere are not so lucky -- researchers suggest entanglement in fishing gear and other objects kills nearly 1,000 whales and dolphins worldwide every day, reports the International Whaling Commission.