Baja Blog 2014 – Weeks 4 & 5
Due to a slight case of fatigue I took last Sunday off and am combining weeks 4 and 5 into one blog. And what a blog it will be!
The two weeks began with a dramatic drop in blue whale numbers as the krill all but disappeared and signs of squid began to show up. Humpback numbers exploded to amounts never seen in these waters before. It seems the common dolphins were usually around the humpbacks by the hundreds, and the early morning scenes of multiple humpbacks with hundreds of dolphins against the pink cliffs lit up with sunrise were simply put, stunning. One lonely blue whale kept showing up here and there. The winds kept us from expanding our search zone.
Then things changed. The winds dropped and our reach expanded. First we found a dead dwarf sperm whale which in itself is quite a rare find. This species is little known and the skeleton will make its way back to Loreto and be one of not very many to be found anywhere. This species is the smallest species of whale in the world.
Then we made it up north to the bird island if Il Defonso and saw hundreds of magnificent frigatebirds in a mating colony. Many of the males had their necks inflated with their showy red balloon like appendages.
Finally things got spectacular. It began with a long search that uncovered nothing for about 4 hours one day and then brought us into the midst of a massive pod of sperm whales. They were uncountable but we had to come up with a number. We agreed on somewhere between 40 and 150. They stretched for miles in small groups of 2 or three. It could have been close to ten miles, but truly the distance was hard to tell as they were all moving just as we were. The likelihood is that there were somewhere around 100 of them. We had one bull that swam right at our panga and actually rubbed up agains the side of it depositing a piece of his skin on the boat! YES it was intimidating, an exciting and to be honest an anxious moment. The sperm whale encounter ended with a group of short finned pilot whales on the edge, in itself an exciting encounter with about 25 in the pod. This was a truly fantastic day.
The next day brought us a repetitive breaching humpback whale just off the towering cliffs of the north side of the Coronado Volcano, the same lonely blue whale from the week before and then perhaps the highlight of the whole season. On our way in just the day after the sperm whale encounter we happened upon 8 orcas! Two males, two young and four females with perhaps a juvenile male mixed in there made up the pod compostion. In all their beauty there they were! They were quite curious toward us and in particular toward my underwater video camera hanging form the end of a long extension pole. Everyone had great looks at these kings and queens of the sea and I was able to capture some very beautiful underwater video of them and as well to photo identify all of them above the surface.
We end the 2 weeks with the wind howling the strongest it has all season long. We question if we will see any more blue whales this year but are confident that there are grand sightings ahead in our last 2 weeks even if the beloved blues prove in fact to be gone.
Stay tuned for more next week.