Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sooo....the benefit weekend in San Jose. Well, a disappointment at best. Nevertheless, I am of good spirits and prepared for the next step in my evolution here in Mexico. I have certainly been on this planet enough years to know that another lesson/challenge has presented what's new??

I have negotiated 6 more times out with Vicente and expect to get more IDs. I would like to have 30 solid fluke shots this season; it would be a record. Regardless it has been one hell of a season!

Hope you are all well and in good spirits.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The computer situation is not resolved yet but it's getting there. I am alive and well, the weather has been extraordinarily mild so the whale spotting has gone very well. I now have 26 really good IDs with a total of 33 encounters; this is good!

Big news is that I had my first ever underwater swim with a Humpback yesterday. I have been in the water with them many times, often as close as 15-20' but never underwater. It was a first year calf, maybe 20' long next to it's mother. Elizabeth and I rolled out together in front of them and waited for them to arrive at our position; tricky to say the least. Vicente was on deck pointing out their progress and at one point yelled, "Herme, now, now, dive, they are right below you." I did and there was the calf just below me and looking over it's left shoulder at me. We swam together for a few seconds and then it disappeared into the depths. Another dream realized here in whale world!

* Herme is Vicente's take on Urmas

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Started out the day on the bodega roof looking for my whale friends. Saw two maybe three moving north straight out from Cardonal. Had everybody mobilized in 20 minutes and we were on the track. Took us almost an hour to find them but we did and I got 3 good IDs. We are up to 28 now and that's real good for a season. We are all happy and satisfied.

Going to dinner at my Quebec friends tonight, then out again tomorrow morning. Jessica is flying out Wed. and Elizabeth the following week. Things will be very different when they leave, they have become family.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The last week has been a bit hectic. We have been out three times but each time the wind came up and spotting was very difficult. A little rough seas are fun, three days in the same week is not.

I have a presentation coming up on the 27th and the other day my computer crashed. I have back up files but not the presentation itself....thereby the "hectic". I'm going in to San Jose today to see what can be done. Amazing how much we have come to depend on our computers. It is a lesson for me.

Hope you are all well and I will post again when things chill a bit.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Again a rather special day. We went out the other morning and at 8:30 am we spotted a whale breaching and tail lobbing about 2 miles away. We motored to it to find that it was actually 2 Humpbacks with one being a very showy male apparently courting a female (behavior is about the only clue but not exclusively). He was breaching, tail lobbing, pectoral fin slapping and rolling about with great enthusiasm while the lady cruised sedately next to him. We were quite close and it was all really beautiful.

The minute I got the first fluke shot I recognized him. He was “Odin”, a whale that I ID’d last year and my son adopted as a contribution to my work; thereby the name. What is so very special about this is that this is the only whale that I have ID’d in one year that returned another year; in other words my very first “returnee” or “recapture” (on camera of course). The fact that it was my son’s whale made it all the more deeply meaningful.

I did not get a fluke shot of his paramour but may have an identifiable flank shot. After the pictures were taken we went in with them but were only able to get within 50-60’. Jessica, Elizabeth and I dove with Jean-Luc, a good friend from Quebec.

My very supportive friends down here in Baja have put together a benefit for me on the weekend of March 27th-28th. When these wonderful people put their time and energy into my work I feel as though the Gods themselves are smiling on all of us.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A very special day today. As usual we went out at 7:30 am and had with us Alan and Marilyn Pomeroy from Alameda, California. They are two of my very dearest friends down here in El Cardonal and also generous contributors to my work. Alan and I have been attempting to have "close encounters" with The Whale People for a number of years now.

Within 10 minutes of being out, Elizabeth spotted a blow and we headed for it. It was obvious from the blow and the back that it was a Blue Whale; always a treat. I got my IDs and then asked Elizabeth and Alan if they were ready to go in with the whale. No persuasion needed! We suited up and intercepted the whale but were not in the right place. The second time the same. The third time we were in the right place and Elizabeth swam hard to get as close as possible. Her efforts were successful. She got within 5-8 ft of it and dove just as the whale did. She was gifted with a sight of this magnificent creature diving down into the depths while she herself was also there. I was right behind her but did not see the whale underwater.

To see her expression as she assimilated the experience was a delight! Weather still holding so will go out again tomorrow. 23 HB IDs now and 5 Blues. Good year so far.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Really good day! Sea like glass, 5 great people on board and 2 HBs within 5 minutes out. Then a third whale joined them. Two good IDs and then it was time for a swim with them. Elizabeth and I suited up and gave three tries but no luck in getting close. Many interesting jellyfish though; up close and no threat. Beautiful!!

Then got the third ID and that really topped the day.

A couple from New York who have become heartfelt friends of mine over the past few years and who have a home here have once again generously contributed to my work for next year. To Leslie and Alex Cook....thank you from my heart. And they are not the only, I am blessed.

My two volunteers are an absolute delight to be spending time with. I am very happy!