Hook & the Orcas

We are indeed back and our 23rd season down on this marvelous sea is now in process. The seasons first week had many components and lots of excitement.

Our group from New York (via England), Illinois, Virginia and Brazil had a fine and exciting week as we kicked off a new year down in Baja California.

The highlight had to be orca’s on day 4. We found them up north in flat calm seas on a strangely cloudy day. They were carrying a dead bottlenose dolphin
and with a calf in tow took their time before consuming it. My best guess is that they were teaching the calf many lessons about hunting and eating as an orca,
and when the lessons were done the dolphin was consumed in short order. They were near to us for wel over an hour, not particularly curious nor shy. We had great
looks at these majestic apex predators, and they stole the show on a day that also had 3 humpback whales and over 1000 common dolphins.

The blue whales are here but not in the kinds of numbers we have seen in early February in years past. The water is greenish, and we are not seeing any production near the surface. How the food production will unfold is now a regular topic of conversation. We are well aware it will directly relate to how many whales show up this year. We do have a lovely mother and calf blue whale pair around and saw them twice this week. It is always nice to see and document a new blue whale life which the oceans need far more of. Also the blue whale called “Hook” is back and big news for us. Always seen early in the season the sighting of instantly recognizable “Hook” this week marked the 5th year in a row we have seen it. This is the first time we have identified a blue whale here five years in the row, a new record. It should be mentioned that “Hook”is an old time whale, very large, quite dark and known from many years back. Hook has orca teeth marks on it’s right side which the discerning eye might catch on the below photo. One other blue whale note is there are a number of thin whales, arriving here from their previous feeding grounds and clearly not having found the amounts of food they prefer. But none are extremely thin, just noticeably so. No major red flag here!

It is also worth noting that the pelican populations are very robust this year. The favored spots that have been sparsely occupied in the past few years now have thousands of birds in feeding plumage clustered in dense colonies, which is quite a sight to behold.

We will learn more and see how the season progresses this week, and please stay tuned for our Week 2 report next Sunday.

Michael Fishbach