I wasn't going to touch the whales. I told myself, look, these are wild animals and deserve respect. If they come close to the boat, observe and enjoy, but don't touch.
As a point of reference, there were people on the trip announcing their goal of hugging and kissing a whale!
So the first couple times a baby came close to the boat, I didn't try to touch. On the last afternoon though, a particularly playful baby was romping back and forth between our boat and another while his mom rested nearby. He came up to the front of the boat where I was and tilted his body so he was looking right at me! At that point the thought hit me that the little dude WANTED me to touch him.
So, the next time he came by, I did. Here are some photos taken by someone in the other boat:
In the picture above, that's Mrs. Angus's arm in the red reaching out to touch the calf.
I wouldn't call it a spiritual experience, but it amazed me how these creatures seem to want to interact with humans. Even some adults approached our little boats to be seen and touched. It's even more amazing when you consider that within the lifespan of some living gray whales, there still was whaling going on in this exact spot!
The NY Times Magazine recently had a great story on whales including a description of a trip to Laguna San Ignacio, where Mrs. Angus and I were.