Nature: Forgiving Us Our Trespasses

by Sergio and Bryan Jáuregui, Todos Santos Eco Adventures

This story was originally published in Janice Kinne’s Journal del Pacifico.

Charles Scammons is the whaler cum naturalist who hunted the gray whales of Baja’s lagoons nearly to extinction in the 1850s and ‘60s. Stories from that time abound of the lagoons running red with the blood of the slaughtered mammals, and of mother gray whales attacking boats in a futile effort to protect their young.  Scammons later regretted his slaughter of the whales and, partly as tribute to them, wrote a book that is now considered a classic, The Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of North America.

Chris Scammons with Mario and Sara in Guerrero Negro during his 2011 visit.

But guilt continued in the Scammons’ bloodline and in 2011 a great, great grandson of Charles Scammons came to Laguna Ojo de Liebre, or what foreigners call Scammons Lagoon, to apologize to the now-protected whales. Eye witness accounts indicate that four pairs of mother and baby gray whales surrounded his boat and, as he apologized for the actions of his ancestor, the whales stayed with him for an hour, exuding forgiveness and grace. The younger Scammons returned home, filled with the peace he had long sought.

The story of Chris Scammons visit was relayed to us by Rebeca Kobelkowsky, the former director of the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and current Ph.D. student at UABCS. We thank her for the story and also for so graciously allowing us to use this photo.

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2013