SHARI BONDY…founder of Whale Magic Tours
I began observing whales in 1980 on Vancouver Island where there are gray whale feeding grounds. After having my life saved by two fin whales in Mexico(another story!) I realized there was much more to these gentle giants than meets the eye so I dedicated my life to finding out why whales do what they do.
I began my research by reading everything I could find on whales and hanging around marine biologists and pummeling them with questions. I learned there was alot of biological information but very little known about their common behavior. I realized I just had to get out there and observe them for myself.
Luckily there were several gray whale feeding grounds where I lived in Tofino B.C., Canada where I could observe the whales going about their daily routines of feeding, napping and playing. I set out on my tiny inflatable raft to get to know the whales in my neighbourhood . I spent countless hours on the water among the whales to learn first hand about their social activities and behaviors.
Soon, word got out about my whale sojourns and people started to come down to the dock and ask me if they could tag along. Some offered to pay the gas and bring lunch so I thought, hey why not, it was nice to have some company out there and share my discoveries with my passengers.
As more folks showed up who wanted to see whales, I got the idea that I could fund my research by taking people out with me. I began the first zodiac whale observation tours on the west coast of Canada. I am proud to have pioneered the concept of providing informative narratives to teach people how to appreciate whales in a new light.
Missing my whale friends in the winters, I decided to migrate with them down to Baja Mexico. I set up camp in the calving lagoon Ojo de Liebre (Scammons Lagoon) to observe & record calf development from the day they are born until they leave on their grueling northern migration.
I was proud to participate in developing the regulations to protect the whales in the lagoons,the census taking, photo identification and training the guides so that they would approach whales respectfully. I have watched whale watching grow and continue to guide tours the lagoon sharing my knowledge and expertise with my guests.
It is with great pride & joy I can share a little whale magic with YOU!
Ojo de Liebre has always been a magical place for us as that is where my daughter Sirena was conceived and raised on the shores of the lovely lagoon with the sound of thousands of breathing whales in the background.
We were fortunate to spend many years there sharing our knowledge and stories with other whale enthusiasts. Sirena is now a mother of two boys & is our Whale Camp naturalist.
Meet some of our tribe members….Charly Martinez(left) is our #1 lanchero and head of the fishing cooperative we work with. Aldo on the right is our camp maintenance and boat guy.
ZIHUL MARTINEZ….NATURALIST GUIDE EXTRAORDINAIRE!
Whale Magic is honoured to have Zihul Martinez on our team of professional naturalists. He lives in Guerrero Negro and teaches Alternative Tourism at the local University and is a certified guide who takes our guests on natural history tours in the local area to cave paintings, the Pronghorn Antelope Preserve, Salt Works, Bird-watching and Whale tours. He is extremely knowledgeable and loves sharing Baja lore. He is bilingual and an amazing artisan specializing in making knives and jewellery and has a fantastic shop in town you will want to visit.
The Whale Magic Tours tribe is in mourning.
The afternoon of August 30th, the world lost an incredible, beautiful soul. The heart of our beloved Captain Jose Ibarra Castillo AKA Captain Huesos (Bones) ceased to beat after suffering decompression while diving for clams in Laguna Ojo de Liebre lagoon.
Many of our lives were enriched by experiences with our beloved Captain Huesos at the helm. He had such a special connection with whales…and people! He always went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure everyone had a great time, always respecting the whales.
Personally, I can say I have been around whales for over 30 years, and my most memorable and incredibly humbling experiences with them were possible because of this gentle soul. A man who outside of the work place, was a loving husband and father to 3 amazing teenagers, for whom he was the only provider, as it is in many Mexican families.
Our hearts go out to his family as they go through this difficult time in their lives. Huesos always gave his all and now it is our turn to give back. We would like to extend an invitation to our friends & clients to pitch in to help his family particularly with the kids schooling.
All donations are in PESOS & go to his family during this difficult time of need. We are only helping them get set up and serving as a liaison/ translator to help them recover from this horrible experience and continue to grow as individuals to make their father proud.
below is the link to our crowd funding page to help the family….any donation will help the family get through this tragedy.