ALL DATA IS IN FOR 2016!
The unknown of an El Nino year saw us begin the 2016 Baja season in early February. The waters were warm, but the whales were there. It was a fabulous whale season and all concerns about El Nino disappeared as week after week saw us with lots of whales experiencing fabulous, varied encounters. Here are some of the final numbers. Especially interesting was the final count of Blue and Humpback whales, which we knew in advance was going to be a close call as to which species we identified more of.
Blue whales – 25 Humpback whales – 24 Fin whales – 5 Orcas – 8
Some other observations of importance:
Seabird populations were so low it appeared to be a crash.
Many whales were thin.
Massive phytoplankton blooms covered large swaths of the sea for much of the season.
The water was warmer than usual.
Winds were mostly down this year.
Dolphin populations were lower than normal, with little jumping.
Large baitballs (with diving birds and dolphins present) were rarely observed.
Ray populations were very high for the entire season.
The water was thick with plankton and whales appeared to be getting well fed.
Many of the same individual whales stayed for most or all of the season, this in all species observed.
El Nino undoubtedly caused some of these anomalies and it will very interesting to see how the 2017 season unfolds. Thanks again for following what we do.
The final group of 2016 Baja images are described below.
An Orca breaching in early March, a special image that I saved for this year end blog
A distant Orca below the Sierra. I thought there was a ray it had launched out of the sea, but could not locate it in the image.
Another image of the distant Orca, I still can’t see the ray but the zoomed in on this image.
The zoomed in image with proof that this Orca was indeed hunting Manta rays.
“Hook”, our most regular Blue whale for the past 3 seasons, who was with us the entire 2016 season. Where is “Hook” now?
A closeup of a curious Orca that was swimming right next to our boat. Fascinating to see the eye of this apex predator.
Close up inside the upper jaw of a feeding Humpback whale with baleen, and tongue visible.
Our 2017 trips will be announced in the late July early August time period as is usual.