Believe it or not, our state has a great diversity of whale species, which are seen during their mating season.
MAZATLAN. -Believe it or not, our state has a great diversity of whale species.
According to the magazine News Week Español, in collaboration with Onca Exploraciones, Sinaloa reports 23 different mammal species.
However, most of these records come from sporadic sightings and fishing logs, since systematic research on marine mammals has been practically non-existent in the region.
Consequently, Sinaloa and its more than 600 kilometers of coastline represent an important information gap on the occurrence and distribution of marine mammals in Mexico.
What are these species of whales?
In Sinaloa waters, you can find up to seven of the eight species of whales that exist in Mexico.
Six of these belong to the group of fin whales or large whales (family Balaenopteridae), and the gray whale, which is the only member of the family Eschrichtidae.
Fin whales are the most representative whales among mysticetes. Their main characteristic is that they have folds or grooves in their throats, which resemble an accordion, which allows them to expand to engulf large amounts of food, from plankton to fish.
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is the most frequent species in Sinaloa waters and the second most abundant in Mexico after the gray.
Like most baleen whales, it migrates to highly productive areas at high latitudes to feed. Breeds in warm, shallow waters in tropical and subtropical latitudes.
Winter Breeding Areas
For North Pacific humpback whales, there are four known winter breeding grounds: the Hawaiian Islands archipelago, the coasts of Japan/Philippines, and the mainland coast of Mexico and Central America.
In Mexican waters, humpbacks aggregate mainly in the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, particularly between Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Pulmo National Park, and on the continental coast from Sinaloa to Chiapas, including waters of the Revillagigedo archipelago, the Marías Islands and Isabel Island.
Although there may be sightings of this species throughout the year in the Gulf of California, the vast majority of humpback whales migrate in the summer and part of the fall to their feeding grounds.
These zones extend all along the western coast of North America, from California to the Gulf of Alaska.
The porbeagle whale
The second most frequent whale species on the Sinaloa coast is the tropical or sardine whale (Balaenoptera edeni).
It is the most commonly sighted whale in the Gulf of California, where it is suggested that two distinct populations exist. One is a year-round resident in the Gulf, and the other is transient, possibly associated with a larger region of the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
Its body is small, elongated, and not very robust. They have a bluish-black pigmentation pattern in the dorsal region and a whitish-yellowish pattern in the ventral region. Its face is flat, and although it can be confused with that of other mysticetes, it has three medium-sized crests that are diagnostic of the species.
In the waters of the continental shelf of Mazatlan there are more than 60 registered sightings of this species, particularly in the months of February, March and April.
The common or fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) is the second largest of all after the blue. Although it is one of the most common in the Gulf of California, in Sinaloa waters it is not so common.
Throughout 15 years of exploration, the Onca Exploraciones team has recorded only two sightings of this species, an individual in February 2006 and a female with her calf in December 2012.
From 2006 to date, Onca Exploraciones has recorded a total of 21 species of marine mammals in the waters of the Mazatlán continental shelf. Of these, six are mysticetes (whales), 13 odontocetes (dolphins) and two are pinnipeds (seals and sea lions).