National Geographic : 1956 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine emptied. Naturalists assumed the grays were gone and forgot about them. "Then Roy Chapman Andrews went to the Orient in 1910. He had heard talk of a strange whale called the koku kujira, or 'devil fish,' being hunted off the southeastern shore of Korea. He discovered it was a gray whale of the same species that had disappeared from California, but of another herd." The Devilfish Come Back California gray whales eventually increased again in the eastern Pacific, Dr. Gilmore re lated. They reappeared in such numbers that they were hunted again in the 1920's and 1930's, and again they almost disappeared. Only a few hundred remained by 1937 when international whaling agreements, backed by U. S. law, gave them rigid protection. "We know they're increasing now," Dr. Gil more had told us. "We counted 1,624 in 1955. Allowing for those we didn't see, we believe that this year the herd may total several thousand. "They come down along the coast starting in December, staying close inshore all the way from Oregon to Baja California, looking for their breeding and calving homes. Formerly they came into San Diego Bay, but the whalers killed them off." With thousands of other Americans we had visited San Diego's Point Loma to watch the grays parading past. The National Park Service maintains a whale-watch station there as part of Cabrillo National Monument. The giant mammals do not tarry. Their minds are on havens far from man's interfer ence, such as Scammon Lagoon. There we also now were headed, with special permission from the Mexican Government. We anchored early one morning close off Surrounded by Mexican Desert, Whales Play in This Arm of the Sea Whalers found the hidden lagoon a century ago. Under Pacific winds, sand dunes "walk" along its shores. Salt beds shimmer like ice. Dorado's scien tists, exploring uncharted channels, were nearly sunk by an angry whale in "White's Waters" (page 59).