Thursday, January 28, 2010

This morning I felt the urge once again to kayak out to The Whale Zone. By 8:00 am I was stationed at my usual place and hoping for a close encounter. By 10:00 am I was getting a bit cold and decided to come in. On my way in I had the good fortune of crossing paths with a herd of about 30 Pacific Common Dolphin and was able to enjoy their peaceful swim past my kayak on to their way north.

By the time I got in I discovered I had been out for 3 hours and felt every bit of it. This kind of exercise is of course much more demanding in the winter. Thought it is hardly cold here, the morning breeze from the north can be chilling.

After cleaning my gear I decided to get on the computer and record some notes on previous whale sightings from a few days ago. As I began to write I heard the distinct “whamp” of a whale breaching or lobbing (synchronicity: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection). It was quite loud so initially I thought it couldn’t be but believe me once you have heard that sound it will never be mistaken for something else. I went outside, grabbed my binoculars and went on to my bodega roof. At first I looked out to sea expecting to see one at a distance, but then right in front of my beach and no more than a ¼ mile out at most I saw a blow (and heard it too). Then I heard the “whamp” and saw a large splash right behind it; two Humpbacks! They were either in combat or it was a male escort showing off for a female. I watched for a while as they continued swimming south with one (or both depending on the dynamic) tail lobbing about every 2 minutes for 4-6 lobs. I was torn between watching and photographing. I decided to run for my camera and see if I could get any shots from shore. I got to the bluff within minutes and was able to get these shots. They are not particularly good but the whales were quite a distance away by then and the camera was trying to figure out just what the hell I was trying to capture out there in the vast blue Sea.

Sighting a blow. you can see the ripple behind this whale where the other is ready to "pound" (?).

Big reentry splash. Could never be mistaken for a Manta, Marlin or Mobula.

I really lucked out on this shot. He is not diving forward, he is lifting 30+ tons of body into the air tail first and "whamping" the surface.

Almost an ID!

Ironic that I was just in that exact place not ½ hr before and if I had waited just a little bit I would have had an encounter for sure. Ah well!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dark and windy today....but grand nonetheless. Here are some pictures (not mine, internet) of that critter I was talking about in the last post. It is a gelatinous zooplankton of the family Salpidae. It is a multicellular animal related to The Tunicates and is indigenous to this area. Their large numbers at this time are yet a bit of a question though phytoplankton "blooms" are certainly implicated. One of the many interesting things about these creatures is that they have the beginnings of a central nervous system and a very primitive symmetry which may have evolved into the more sophisticated Vertebrates later.
This information was sent to me by Brigette Mercier in Canada, a dear friend and part of my "family". Brigette, her husband Jean-Luc and their sons Antoine, Tristan and Quentin have adopted me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Check out my interview during the fundraiser on The Schooner Talofa,

I had a premonition this morning that there were whales about so I followed my intuition, got my kayak gear together and was in the Sea before the sun rose. Premonitions are tricky things; one is never sure whether they are worth acting upon. However, if you don’t then you truly might miss something. I have a tendency to follow up on premonitions and can say honestly that at most maybe 10%-20% have been valuable or rewarding. I believe that is a pretty good return on any investment regardless of whether monetary, spiritual or otherwise.

Well, no whales this morning but some interesting things “otherwise”. First off I kayaked into a good sized group of Mobulas and was treated to their aerial antics and the sight of hundreds underneath my kayak. The Sea was very flat so I was able to lay back, close my eyes and let the rising sun envelop me. After a bit I realized that the water was once again full (and I mean full) of these ½ to 1 inch larvae of something; the jellies I spoke of the other day. I don’t think they are jellies at all but they are zooplankton that I think are in fact the larvae of some more sophisticated marine creature. When I stuck my hand in the water literally dozens of the collected in my palm…..and they pulsated! I am once again amazed at my good fortune at having been a biology student all these years because down here I am in one of The Worlds great laboratories. I still don’t know what they are but it is entirely possible that I may find the answer on The Net, we’ll see.

I came in just as the wind started up and felt satisfied that my premonition had born fruit.

These are my kids. An investment with an invaluable return.

My first born, Kersti and my son Zack, born 2 ½ years later, and now my two dearest friends.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Went out today for my 3rd attempt to find and ID some Humpbacks. Unfortunately the first really good day to go out, being today, there were no HBs in my area. Yesterday one of my pescaderos saw 4-6 in full action (breeching etc) just 2 miles up the coast, and of course everyone has been seeing them everywhere. Ah, you denote a trace of frustration or perhaps even anger but no, it is what it is and after all, I was once again on The Sea with my amigo Vicente, the skies were clear, no wind, I am healthy and living in Shangri-La. It would be shameful if I were to be anything but thankful for my good fortune.

We did come across two Bryde’s Whales early in the morning but they are very elusive and difficult to ID so we gave up on them. They are one of The Great Baleen Whales and sometimes reach the size of a Humpback. I have dove with them before but I have never successfully seen them underwater (my new criteria for a “close encounter”). Note the almost exaggerated scimitar like dorsal fin.

Soon after that we came across this masked Booby sitting on a shark buoy. I have come to love these Sea Birds. They are SO FREE!

One of the very evident things out there today was the literally millions of these zooplankton (sorry, too lazy to identify) that have been showing up all around the East Cape. Vicente declared them “loco” which I have come to realize means out of the ordinary (is that not perfect?). This picture of course does not do them justice but use your imagination.

Finally on our way in we came across a good-sized herd of dolphin that was feeding in a school of sardine. I asked Vicente to take me through them and I know I will never tire of watching dolphin ride a boats bow wave, never.

So there you see. An unproductive day research wise but for my soul....ambrosia.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This past weekend was the benefit sail for my Whale Work. It took place on board The Tall Ship Talofa out of Cabo San Lucas. The Talofa is a brigantine schooner owned and operated by Cactus & Betsy Bryan who have generously conducted a sail each year to help me out with funding. I am now in a position this season to go out in search of my Humpback population at least 18 times, and that is good. We are due for a bit of a blow for the next few days and then maybe I will begin looking. While I have been gone my neighbors have reported seeing a number of Humpbacks in the area. We ourselves saw about 5-6 on the sail Sunday. It was altogether a delightful group of people, the weather was beautiful and there were some didgeridoos on board to serenade the Humpbacks (being as they are great appreciators of music). I was interviewed for articles in two newspapers and one TV spot. I will be interested to see if, and how, my message got across and of course how I appear on TV.

I will post the articles and let you know where you can pick up the feed on the video. I had two wonderful surprises on the sail also. The daughter of one of my dearest friends (Rick Buckholts from the “old days”) Lena Buckholts, showed up after having not seen her but once in the past 20 years. What a treat. She and my daughter Kersti were playmates during those heady days of the 70’s in Northern California. Another delightful surprise was to see Michelle Castro ( favorite friend) on board and carrying a new soul in her body. What a day!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not much to report but I did want to show this photo taken by my friends at the “Big House” about 2 weeks ago.

It is a Mobula. It is in the same taxonomic Family as the Giant Manta but a different Genus and considerably smaller. These do not get much larger than 6-7 feet across while The Giant Manta may get as large as 20 feet across. They are both utterly harmless and a treat to watch. Both are found in these waters but I have never seen a Giant Manta except at a great distance. I have seen literally thousands of Mobula and dove with them a number of times. One time I actually had an underwater camera with me and the following shots were taken that day.

Alan (my good buddy who dove with me that day) and I estimated that their numbers that day must have been in the hundreds of thousands, truly an amazing experience to be “with” them underwater. I joke about having had the feeling I was part of the great “Mobula Mind”.

I saw another Humpback this morning from the bodega roof and after some serious procrastination (feeling lazy) actually got out to the whale zone but far too late to intercept. I did however draw in a Masked Booby that did a REALLY close fly over my head. Could not have been more than 6 feet, way cool! Then just a bit later either a Brown Booby or a 1 year old Short Tailed Albatross flew over my head (maybe 10 feet). I’ve never seen either of those birds before so it was special. I came in shortly after.

Sunday is my benefit sail out of Cabo, looking forward to an adventure!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bare with me, my hotmail & my gmail accounts are interfering with each other.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sunrise of The New Year
So here we are at 2010. Only a number really and based on the birth of one man in one culture….interesting to say the least. Nevertheless, it is a way of marking time and this past “year” has been quite something. Suffice it to say that for me it has been both delightful (in the grandest sense of that word) and crushing (grandly there too). Not at all unlike it has probably been for a majority of The Planets People.

I attended a party last night at my neighbor Carla’s here in El Cardonal just as The Moon was coming up from The Sea of Cortez (sorry, no camera). A beautiful sight and a reminder of the ancient relationship between this wonderful planet and it’s accompanying partner The Moon.

For the past 5 years I would be waking up in Ensenada, Mexico this morning after an always eventful evening at Hussongs Bar. I liked to stop in Ensenada on my drive down here because I like the town and I love the New Years revelry at Hussongs. By the way, for those who drive down here, do avoid the crossing at Tijuana and make your crossing at Tecate….literally a world of difference in every sense.

So, a couple of pictures to share. I took these this morning.

It was a full moon last night and this morning it was still going down so I turned to The Northwest and got a shot of that too.

Traditionally I have put up a new Earth Flag and Flag of Mexico each year when I got here. Since I have been here all year I waited until this morning to put them up because I would usually get here by the 4th and I love tradition.

I would like to say something really profound but all that really comes to mind is simply, may you be blessed by whatever Gods/Goddesses you believe in. May they be kind to you and give you inspiration.