Whale

8 Most Affordable Beach Towns in Mexico

Mexico is filled with gorgeous beach towns that beckon global tourists year-round. The great thing is, many of them are affordable. That’s especially true these days for Americans carrying U.S. dollars, since the exchange rate is so attractive now. Here are eight of the most affordable Mexican beach towns to visit, plus why you should go.

1. Loreto

Situated on the Baja California Peninsula, Loreto offers more than a cool splash in blue waters. It’s also home to the centuries-old church, Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, and prehistoric cave paintings at the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range.

Beach-lovers can see pelicans, dolphins, and whales off the coast around Bahía de Loreto National Park. If you come in spring, you may also catch the migration of whales. For those after a little more active vacation, there is plenty of snorkeling and sport fishing, too.

Best of all, three-star hotels in Loreto start at just $50 per night. (See also: Caribbean Island Vacations Anyone Can Afford)

2. Mazatlán

Referred to as the Pearl of the Pacific, this resort town boasts 11 miles of boardwalk that promises lovely strolls along the sea. Mazatlán is also known for gorgeous architecture, friendly locals, a rich history, and a world-renowned night life district called Zona Dorada (Golden Zone).

A fun to-do list could include visiting the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the historic part of town, dropping by the Zona Dorada to mingle with fellow tourists, and catching breathtaking sunsets.

Like surfing? Mazatlán is known as a surfing haven because of its enormous waves. If you are visiting as a family, you can also take the little ones to the Mazatlán Aquarium.

Mazatlán is convenient to get to and offers semitropical weather all year. Plus, you can find three-star hotels starting from $70. (See also: Best Hotel Credit Cards)

3. Todos Santos

Popular with both artists and surfers, Todos Santos is located on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. History enthusiasts might drop by the local Profesor Néstor Agúndez Martínez Cultural Center while beach-lovers might hang out at surfer-friendly San Pedrito, Los Cerritos, or La Pastora.

While surfing is the most popular activity in Todos Santos, it’s not the only adventure on the menu: You can go kayaking, camping, fishing, or hiking. You can also take part in an eco-tour.

In the winter, Todos Santos is a premier spot to watch the migration of gray whales. And walking through the historic part of town will get you to numerous art galleries.

You can find hotels starting at $30, although most…

Partnership

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Killer_Whale_(Old_Tom)_and_whalers.jpeg

In a diary entry in 1843, Sir Oswald Brierly, manager of the whaling station at Twofold Bay in southeast Australia, noted a strange cooperative relationship that had grown up between killer whales and the local whalers:

They [the killer whales] attack the [humpback] whales in packs and seem to enter keenly into the sport, plunging about the [whaling] boat and generally preventing the whale from escaping by confusing and meeting him at every turn. … The whalemen of Twofold Bay are very favourably disposed towards the killers and regard it as a good sign when they see a whale ‘hove to’ by these animals because they regard it as an easy prey when assisted by their allies the killers.

By the…

These killer whales exhale sickening germs

killer whales
killer whales

People usually try to give killer whales their space. Getting close to one’s blowhole is especially risky. But Canadian and America scientists got that close — and for a good reason. “We wanted to know what kind of fungi and bacteria they had in their breath,” explains Stephen Raverty, who led the study. His team turned up germs, or microbes, that might cause disease. What they learned may help researchers protect these animals, which are endangered (at risk of extinction).

Raverty is a veterinary pathologist. That’s a scientist who studies animal diseases. He works for Canada’s Ministry of Agriculture in Vancouver, British Columbia. He and his team studied a population of endangered killer whales, or orcas. These are the biggest dolphins on Earth. The group they studied lives off of the West Coast of North America. Scientists call this population the southern resident killer whales. They migrate between California and British Columbia, depending on the season.

As of December 2016, there were only 78 whales left in this group. That’s down from 98, two decades earlier. Scientists hope to keep the population from shrinking even more. Checking the whales’ breath can give researchers a peak into the animals’ health.

The whales hold their breath while diving. When they surface, they exhale in a big burst from their blowholes. Afterward, they inhale fresh air.

The researchers used small motorboats to get within about 6 meters (20 feet) of the whales. By coming at them from the side or back, they didn’t get in the animals’ way or frighten them. When they were close enough, the researchers waved a 5.5-meter pole over a whale’s blowhole as it surfaced.

The pole had five petri dishes attached to it. When researchers twisted the pole’s handle one way, the lids on the petri dishes opened. This allowed them to catch liquid droplets and exhaled breath. When the scientists twisted the pole’s handle the other way, the lids closed again.

droplet collection
droplet collection

The team filled the petri dishes with the exhaled breath from 12 killer whales. In some cases, breaths from the same whale were sampled more than once between 2006 and 2009.

“The whales were very cooperative,” says Raverty. “There was no evidence we scared them.” Still, it took the researchers four years to…

Ancient whale tells tale of when baleen whales had teeth

36-million-year-old fossil belonged to oldest discovered member of group that includes humpbacks

Mystacodon skull
WHALE IN TRANSITION The skull of Mystacodon, a 36-million-year-old whale found in Peru, is an early relative of today’s baleen whales. Its skull (shown here) has a flattened snout and a mouth full of teeth, which baleen whales later lost.

A 36-million-year-old fossil skeleton is revealing a critical moment in the history of baleen whales: what happened when the ancestors of these modern-day filter feeders first began to distinguish themselves from their toothy, predatory predecessors. The fossil is the oldest known mysticete, a group that includes baleen whales, such as humpbacks, researchers report in the May 22 Current Biology.

Scientists have made predictions about what the first mysticetes might have looked like, but until now, haven’t had much fossil evidence to back up those ideas, says Nicholas Pyenson, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. “Here, we have something we’ve been waiting for: a really old baleen whale ancestor.”

The earliest whales were predators with sharp teeth — a legacy carried on by today’s orcas, dolphins and other toothed whales. But at some point during whale history, the ancestors of modern mysticetes replaced teeth with baleen, fibrous plates that filter out small bits of food from seawater like a giant sieve. Such a huge lifestyle change didn’t happen overnight, though. And the new find, dubbed Mystacodon selenensis, shows the start of that transition, its discoverers say.

Mystacodon largely fits in well with what scientists have predicted from analyzing other whales, says Mark Uhen, a paleobiologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “It fleshes out this transition, rather than being something wacky and crazy we never thought of.”

Mystacodon was unearthed in a Peruvian desert by…

Watch a Rare Drone Video of a Blue Whale Feeding

Blue whales are picky eaters. It’s not because they’re finicky about flavors; it’s the meal’s size that matters. The ocean giants eschew small, concentrated groups of krill, opting instead to chow down on massive patches of the small crustaceans. Scientists explain this behavior by theorizing that lunging for food requires whales to exert large amounts of energy, forcing them to be discerning about which floating feasts are worth the effort.

In the video below,