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2023 Research Blog # 1 | Michael Fishbach | Sealegacy, Katie Couric & Blue Whales


The 2023 season is underway and our first week offered up quite a start.

We began it all with a 2-day vacation in the wettest of places in Baja, the canyon

with a million palms. We stayed as guests at our gracious friend Pepe Hevia's

ranch, where avocado and fruit trees covered the property.


Our week 1 wonderful and very helpful guests hailed from Kentucky, Florida, California, and North Carolina. But week one was not just hosting these guests.

We began the week filming with our dear friends Paul and Cristina at SeaLegacy, and a lovely small film crew from CNN for a special on the Sea of Cortez as a part of the CNN series "Call to Earth". The episode will be released in early April and we will definitely (I promise) provide everyone with a link.

As if on call one blue whale made an encounter spectacular for all on board, and blew the

CNN crew away. It began with a head slowly emerging out of the sea right next to our boat, followed by a slow tight circle right around the panga, and this behavior went on for the better part of an hour. Super rare blue whale behavior!

All this for a film that will be widely viewed, as if this whale had been waiting all its life for some element of fame, simply amazing.

Then right afterward we hit the sea with our regular season beginning and on day one found a pod of orcas. In fact, there were 4 orca sightings in our working area in a week and it seemed the whales headed quickly elsewhere.

One day we encountered one blue whale relaxed for 5 surfacings, and then suddenly it swim miles off toward the middle of the sea at a sustained speed I've rarely seen blue whales attain. We did not pursue it!

Everything settled down, and at week's end, we again have more blue whales in the area. Whale abundance was low this week overall, but we did see small numbers of blue whales every day, including the one and only Machette, an old whale we have known for well over 20 years.

Then on the last day of the week, we worked with Sea Legacy, Katie Couric, her husband John, and our good friend Mario Gomez.

We had a wonderful day but had to travel super far to find one and all some blue whales, and a lunge-feeding humpback.

Dolphin numbers were low this week, and seabirds were a bit below average. The sea appears clearer than normal and the weather is very cloudy and so far quite cool for Baja.

Please stay tuned for our Week 2 update next week, Michael

Images above in order:

The crystallized basalt column cave in San Miguel de Comondu

Delphi in the ancient olive tree planted next to the mission, built-in

1708 in San Jose de Comondu

Kicking the season off with orcas on day 1

An orca female with teeth mark scars from other orcas clearly seen on her body

A great blue heron is locally known as a Garza relaxing on one leg

2 blue-footed boobies prepare to take flight

The unique fluke of the blue whale called Machette in 2011 top, and yesterday Feb. 18, 2023 bottom

A glorious shot of a young humpback lunge feeding, our final whale of Week 1

MF saying goodbye to dear friends Paul Nicklen, Katie Couric, her husband John, and Cristina Mittermeir

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