Friendly Gray Whales, Thresher Sharks, And Finally Some Krill
Our week 5 guests hailed from: New Mexico, North Carolina and right here in Baja California
The week began with high winds. On day 2 we went to the famed gray whale lagoon of Magdalena Bay, and met the friendliest of mother and calf whales. We all watched in awe as this pair of gray whales visited and were petted, rubbed and coddled by at first 2 and then 4 different boatloads of thrilled on lookers. The whales happily switched boats and stayed right up on the surface for 45 minutes. Our guests all petted then, rubbed them and even tried without success to pluck barnacles off of them. We watched how they close their blowholes just the split second before they go back underwater, and saw their whale whiskers from a mere 2 feet away. We massaged around their eyes and their blowholes and the pair of whale were as gentle as they could be, and seemed to absolutely love all the attention and contact. One was left to wonder why these whales allow such closeness with us in these protected lagoons, and almost never exhibit such behavior once exiting the lagoons, and beginning their long and at times treacherous migrations up to the arctic.
Finally on day 3 we were able to go out on the beloved Sea of Cortez and see the giant blue whales each and every day for the remainder of the week. The big news was that we finally began to see phytoplankton blooms on the surface and a bit of krill near the surface. Plus we saw our first whales near Isla Coronado, and on the north side of Isla Carmen. So things are changing and the whales are moving around a bit more now. We had fabulous phosphorescence on 2 days we came back after dark. Green trails in the wake of the boat had everyone screaming with delight.
Whale numbers are slowly on the rise but still remain low for the year. Dolphin numbers are high as we continue to see them in higher numbers than in many years. Days are now warmer with many of them in the 80’s. With the reports and images we have seen it appears that a number of blue whales are coming here only for a day or two and then departing, while others even some old timers are staying for weeks on end. It is interesting to imagine how these decisions are made and what the communication might be between these giants that lead to this whale staying and that one leaving. These things we can only imagine.
The final report of the week must be about the thresher shark encounter we had. I encourage anyone who does not know what a thresher shark looks like to look them up and see the images of them. Their tail is incredible, and deadly. They kill much of their prey with it by stunning them. This tail can be swung unbelievably fast and with immense power. We slowly approached the thresher which was on the surface and could see it’s long tail wagging back and forth behind the dorsal fin. The shark allowed for a very close approach and then without warning unleashed it’s tail with a loud thwack against the side of the boat before vanishing! The shark was about 4-5 feet long and the tail at least as long as the body. The tail came across the body to strike the boat in what can be described as an extremely rapid whiplike motion. We were all utterly amazed and thankfully 3 of us on board got a video of this encounter.
Please stay tuned for our last 2 blogs in the next 2 weeks, when I truly hope will discover and identify many more new blue whales.