Patience In The Wind – Lunging Humpbacks-baitballs And More
WEEK 4 was a grand group from Florida, Maryland, Nevada, California and Germany.
Patience was the very first virtue this group needed as the winds were not kind to us at the beginning of the week. We snuck in two very bouncy days in the wavy sea which were followed by two super windy days where all we could do was go see the Gray whales, and take a lovely mountain hike. As Michael picked the group up at the end of this hike he was able to arrive early and photograph the endemic to Baja California Xantus Humminbird’s, feeding on some of their favorite flowers in a wet canyon.
Finally the winds broke and we spent many hours at sea on Friday and Saturday, and we were rewarded with wonderful sightings, some of which the below images will reveal. One big highlight was seeing a bait ball of sardines so thick that thousands of birds filled the sky above it, and dove again and again to have their fill. We spotted a pair of humpback whales making a rapid dash toward this frenzy. Unlike blue whales, humpbacks can diversify their feeding strategies to include hordes of small fish, and with krill a bit sparse this season these humpbacks showed us that very clearly. We arrived at the bait ball traveling with the humpbacks, and they proceeded to freely lunge and fill their bellies with the sardines the minute they arrived. This show was amazing and a couple of the attached images will show everyone a bit what it was like. The number of birds was astounding. We left an hour later and the whales were still there but clearly feeding more below the surface.
On our last day we had a grand blue whale which surfaced every 6-7 minutes and which I recognized from some years back. Turns out this whale was last seen in 2010, which make for an eight-year absence! With a large clear hole on the outer right lobe of his or her tail fluke, this whale put on a grand show pulling it’s fluke out of the sea almost every time it dove while allowing us close approaches. We want to name this whale and all ideas are welcome. You will see the distinctive fluke in this weeks images, and the hole must play a role in naming this whale. Like almost all blue whales does not have a name. Our group tried but could not come up with a really good name.
As the daylight waned on our last day we met two fin whales, watched the sky turn stunning shades of pink and orange and headed back with the last few miles being in darkness. Soon bioluminescence appeared in the sea and got so thick that we were able to stop the boat and stimulate the lit up green plankton with our hands. Then just before reaching the marina the bioluminescent water filled with flying fish. These fish surged leaving green trails behind them, then leaped from the sea as flying fish do, and somehow retained the bioluminescent great color as they flew through the air low over the sea. There were so many of these flying fish that the whole seen was almost surreal to all of us. What a great way to end Week 4! Although whale numbers are still down for the season, we are managing to have some very good weeks full of interesting sightings on both land and sea. Enjoy the below images which are truly the blogs highlight for most of you, and stay tuned for next weeks report as the 2018 season is now more than half done.