Sunday, April 25, 2010

This picture is for Quentin

I had my annual meeting with Dr. Jorge Urban the other morning to talk over our research experiences this season and to submit my 2010 data to him. As always it was a meeting full of stories, information and lots of laughs.

Basic news; the East Pacific Humpback population looked real strong this year to everyone. Many whales and in excellent health as well as being vigorously active (lots of breeding). We now estimate there may be as many as 22,000 HBs in The North Pacific as a whole and that’s good.

The special news is that my dream of this area being designated as an MPA or MMPA (Marine Protected Area or Marine Mammal Protected Area) is looking stronger than ever. While in Jorge’s office, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho dropped by for a meeting with Jorge. Senor Bracho is The Coordinator for Research and Conservation of Marine Mammals for The Institute of Ecology for Mexico. I was making a case for “my whales” to Jorge and his assistant Ursula and so Lorenzo sat in. After making my points he thanked me genuinely for my work and said he would do what he could to make that happen. Jorge gave me a smile and a nod to indicate that we looked good for an MPA if not an MMPA here.

I am passing this on to all of you because without your help over the past 6 years none of this would have happened. Your kind and often generous support made it possible for me to go out to the whales and collect the data needed to authenticate this area as an important breeding/calving area. What I have done is the result of your love for The Whales, Our Planet….and yes, for me. I cherish that.

May The Great Mystery bless you,

ps: I now have the data sheets back from last year and will be sending the photos/data to those of you who adopted some of the 2009 whales

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This is a synopsis of my season this year that I send Dr. Jorge Urban at The University in La Paz; also some photos

Humpback Record 2010
El Cardonal Grid
Urmas Kaldveer, PhD., MioSah

This is the first year I have been here through the whole of a season from fall to spring. I was seeing Humpbacks traveling in the grid by mid-November in numbers large enough (2-5/day) to warrant a trip out to the grid. I went out twice during the month, once on the 14th and a second time on the 22nd. This resulted in 3 good IDs.

Due to weather conditions I was able to go out only twice more in January.

Jan. 14th 2 HBs (one ID # 4) and on the 18th no whales were encountered.

February, as usual, was a good month, best ever!

Feb. 1st, 14 HBs
Feb. 10th, 4 HBs
Feb. 17th, 7 HBs
Feb. 18th, 3 HBs
Feb. 20th, 4 HBs
Feb. 28th, 5 HBs

March was also very good with 30 encounters

Mar. 1st, 8 HBs
Mar. 4th, 5 HBs
Mar. 5th, 8 HBs
Mar. 14th, 2 HBs
Mar. 18th, 1 Blue Whale
Mar. 23rd, 2 HBs
Mar. 26th, 4 HBs

By April my research funds were expended but 8 encounters took place before the money ran out.

April 5th, 6 HBs
April 10th, 2 HBs

All together I had 80 encounters and I believe possibly 50 good IDs. There is no question but that this was the best year since I began the study in 2005. In fact, this year I had twice as many encounters and good IDs as any previous year.

As of the writing of this report, April 19th, I am still seeing HBs passing through the area almost daily. Usually mothers with calves but also groups of 2-4 males, displaying breaching, tail lobbing and pectoral slaps with great gusto!

An interesting note: at least 90% of my whales were moving south even at the beginning of the season.

In general the whales looked very healthy with mothers nice and rounded and calves with plenty of vigor. Males too showed excellent outward appearance.

It has been a very gratifying season because of the numbers, the health and the numerous times I have been in the water with them. I am somewhat concerned nevertheless, because a change in numbers this great, moving south etc raises the obvious question as to why? As we begin to approach a time of greater Oceanic change mitigated by Global Warming and Climate Change I am very sensitive to “Red Flags” in the biosphere. I would be extremely happy if it is all obsessive and unnecessary concern, but I think there is valid reason to be vigilant.

I sincerely hope that this data is of value. I am committed to the preservation of our migrating Cetacean friends.

Urmas Kaldveer, PhD
El Cardonal, BCS, Mexico

Here are some non ID photos to enjoy

My dear Brigiitte and Jean Luc who "adopted" me this year into their family

After my Whale Shark dive....satisfied!

Monday, April 12, 2010

It was a very special day today and important too. A lesson was learned by me that could very well aid me in my quest to communicate with The Cetacean Nation.

I woke early this morning as I usually do. The sun was not yet up and I could tell from the stillness that The Sea was tranquil. I did a turn around The Medicine Wheel as the Sun rose, thanking the Spirits of the Four Sacred Directions and asking them to let me see with greater clarity what it was I was too do to further my path to wisdom and service. The Whales of course came to my mind and I asked that The Cetacean Nation see me as a friend.

Without a second thought I suddenly decided that this morning I would kayak out to The Whale Zone and recommit to my work with The Humpbacks. With singular determination I ate a quick breakfast and within a half hour I was launched and on my way. It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky, no wind; a perfect kayaking day.

When I got out to the 2-mile mark I stopped paddling and simply enjoyed the utter stillness. At 2 miles out there is no sound but The Sea (unless some yo yo is revving their car, motor bike or jet ski of course) and I thought about my relationship to The Whale People. I asked for an encounter so that I might once again have the exhilaration of swimming next to one of these wonderful creatures up close under water (although I have now swum with many whales, only twice before have I swum with one under water so that I could actually see their entire body in motion). Believe me that is a very special treat!

I was then reminded of what my good friend and Huichol Shaman Tomas had told me. “If you are not sure of what you should do, ask yourself, what is my intent?” Upon reflecting on that I realized that I had come to wanting to swim with The Whale People so that I could TALK ABOUT IT TO OTHERS! I immediately recommitted to the original purpose, which was to offer myself as a human friend ready to exchange SPIRIT with them.

Feeling much better I paddled around a bit and then decided to come in over the reef and do some laps as I approached the beach. There was nothing that suggested any particular time to bail out of my kayak to start my swim but there was a moment when it just seemed right so I put on my mask and fins and popped in. I usually swim to my right so about every 100 strokes I check my heading (no question but I would swim in one big circle if I didn’t check). I had done 250 strokes and suddenly decided I would not wait for 300 strokes but look now.

Coming directly at me from The North and about 75’ away was a Humpback. I have never been in better position and geared up too! Then I saw there were two….mother/calf for sure.

Not my photo. This however captures the exact situation this morning. Thank you "Monica" from Hawaii.

The mother dove and gave me a flukes up about 50’ in front of me so I dove down but the water is just not clear enough here at this time of year so I knew she passed me below. I came up for air and there was the calf just getting ready to dive behind her. Down I went again to about 20’ and there it was right next to me (less than 10’ away) giving me the eye and letting out a little call (not distress) to it's mom. When I surfaced I quickly rolled into my kayak to see if I could follow them for a bit but they were moving to fast. I gave them my heartfelt thanks and a “happy holler” as they continued on their way.

Every decision I made this morning, walking The Medicine Wheel, when I ate, the launch, returning in, starting laps that put me RIGHT IN THEIR PATH, I feel was a gift from The Great Mystery.

Yes, I told another whale swim story, it is part of what I am supposed to do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Whale Season is coming to a close for me and it has been a good one. I went out last week with my very dear friend Christine Gist along with her, and now my friend, Linee from Vancouver. We ID'd 6 new whales for a total of 76 encounters and probably around 50 quality IDs this year. I am going out once more tomorrow with my friends Alan & Marilyn Pomeroy and hope to get some water time with the whales.

Linee on the left and Christine on the right of the picture

This has been my best season by far with almost double the number of encounters and IDs than ever before. What this all means we will have to see, certainly something is up within The Cetacean Nation. I had a visit from Micheal Fishback the other day and he said the same was true for The Blue Whales this year up around Loreto; I have only seen one however this year.
I am always sad to see my Humpbacks go but I send great love with them on their epic journey north.

It's all about food and having the metabolic energy to find a mate and reproduce. The food source for the entire Oceanic World depends on the plankton and they are governed by the water temperature, salinity & pH. Need I say more!