Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Local fishermen "rescuing" an entangled Humpback Whale

Two weeks ago yet another whale “rescue” took place here in Mexico. Again, a migrating Humpback had gotten entangled in a drift net near Loreto, where just last year my friend Michael Fishbach had rescued “Valentina”. Unfortunately we can expect more of this as the “engineered” need for more fish food prompts longer and longer drift nets and long lines. It is also the reason I carry 2 knives and a good pair of heavy weight shears in case we run across an entangled whale during a search. I always have my dive gear on board so, if necessary, I’m in the water.

HB# 5 and 6, good day!

On the 12th I went out with my friends Phil and Luise and we got ID’s on Humpbacks # 5 and 6. It was a beautiful day with lots of dolphins and Mobulas all around.

Dolphins riding our bow wake

We were all ready to dive with the critters but since it was early in the morning and wind chill can get you after a while we didn’t. I try to go in for a swim with the day’s last whale encounter so we can blast right away to the beach, home and a hot shower. I’m getting old I’m afraid, I didn’t even use to think of that!

Had a bit of a fiasco with my water pumps last week. First my main pump from the cistern started to leak, then my trailer pump. I fixed the trailer pump and decided to have my friend Jose Martin fix the leaks on the main pump. Well, he ended up breaking the front casing on the pump. After all was “said and done”, a ½ hour job and about 75 pesos of material ended up as 3 days without water and 435 pesos of materials. Does it ever ALL work out just like we wanted. Rhetorical question of course!

Here’s a little treat for you. Check out this artists creativity. Be sure and see the whole gallery to the end.


Garden Sculpture gift from Phil and Luise

Phil and Luise brought this beautiful piece of Cholla Cactus driftwood AND this equally beautiful and fine whale vertebrae to me as a gift before they left. I have placed it near my favorite sitting space and added the Komodo Dragon (a gift from my dear friend Rebecca Kress) as a guardian. Now I have decided to invite visitors to bring a favorite feather that they can hang on the cactus to remind me of my friends as their spirits dance in the breeze in front of me. Thank you Phil and Luise, a delightful gift and very thoughtful indeed!

My Quebecois are back!

My extended family from Quebec have returned to their home here on our land and are busy enjoying Shangri-La. It is such a delight to have them here, I am blessed. Jean-Luc, Brigitte and I kayaked out to The WZ twice last week and though we saw no whales we were treated to a major herd of Pacific Common Dolphin that swam through us in groups of 20-30 at a time. All together there must have been 100 or maybe even more. It was such a sweet image to see Brigitte sitting sideways on her kayak, legs dangling in the water and her sweet voice laughing with the pleasure of the moment. Jean-Luc dove in and was swimming amongst them for a good half hour. I love to see them enjoying the critters as much as I do.

On the 26th we went out in Vicente’s panga for a look see. With us this time were two of their three sons, Antoine and Quentin. Tristan is in Norway as an exchange student for the year. Within 15 minutes we spotted whales out about 3 miles and found two groups of two. For a while we went from one group to another to get the most immediate shot. It turned into quite a chase but after a couple of hours we had two more ID’s and were deep into the southern end of my grid. One was a calf and wouldn't fluke up and one simply didn't "cooperate" in fluking up.

HB# 9 12

HB# 9 on his side (one fluke up) with a dolphin just above his head

As we were returning north we got a radio call that there were two Humpbacks well north of us near Boca del Alamo. We hustled off and found them very close to shore and in front of San Isidro. Turned out to be a mother and first year calf (born here this year) and the first of the season for me. The mother would not “fluke up” because her baby was too young to dive deep so I didn’t get a fluke ID on her but did get a good series of flank shots that are very valuable for further study.

Mama, HB# 10 12

Calf, HB# 11 12

Yesterday morning, Feb. 28th, I was starting some water to my garden and I heard some heavy whapping sounds coming from the Seaward side of my land. I climbed on my bodega roof and there was a male Humpback doing a series of powerful tail lobs just outside the reef line (1/8 mile out). It was too cold and windy to go out for an intercept but I grabbed my camera, ran the 100 yds to the bluff above the beach and got this lucky shot.

Breaching Humpback, about 600' off shore

He was clearly signaling to all around, “I am here and ready for action” (that being wooing or fighting….or maybe sharing a song!). Shortly after this picture a Caracara (the true Aztec Falcon in the legend that became the symbol on The Flag of Mexico) flew by and I got this shot. Great way to start your morning, no?

The Caracara

Friday, February 10, 2012

HB# 4 12

On the 31st of January my good friend Leon Springer and his family came to see me here in El Cardonal. I had suggested long ago that they join me for a day of whale research and the timing seemed right. We had a very small wind window but early in the morning they arrived, the Sea was flat and we started our day. Vicente had hurt his back and was visiting The Curandero (same one I went to some weeks past) so our pangero was another of Cardonal’s fisherman, and good friend, Antonio. We went as far south as Los Barriles without seeing much besides some cavorting Mobulas but I kept hoping we would be lucky and find some Humpbacks. We followed my usual grid as far as Boca del Alamo and then started our run in…..ah well, we tried. And then, as has happened before, but not often, Antonio spotted two Humpbacks ahead of us. We were treated to a VERY CLOSE breach by what I suspect was a yearling (didn’t get a picture, not prepared), lots of pectoral slaps, roll overs and flukes up. I got two fine ID’s and everyone was happy to have had “The Whale Experience”.

Here’s a quote from a Yiddish Proverb that is somewhat appropo:

You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.


The other day I woke up to this sunrise and rolled over to get a few more Z’s. Then I thought about having heard a few days before that there were Humpbacks spotted near Los Barriles…..and a hunting pod of Orcas also. Cold morning or not I had to go out to The WZ. I put on heavier gear and launched my kayak just as the sun came over the horizon. Once again, great exercise, but no action. It did make me reflect however, on how important it is for me to get my butt out of bed when the whales call and do what I can to be there if they are interested in an encounter. As always I felt real good after the trip even though the Sea was a bit choppy and I got a bit cold.

On the 4th I went to Cabo to see an Opthamologist about a continuing vision problem in my right eye. He said the cataract there had enlarged sufficiently to need surgery soon. I’ll wait until after the Whale Season and then see how that’s all going to play out. Regardless, it is a major bummer but not at all surprising after more than 10 years of living with the Sea/Desert/Wind.

I am not sure I mentioned this before but I have been contemplating writing a book about my adventures at Sea and particularly with The Whale People. On my 70 birthday in November I decided the time had come to start. On the 6th of this month I finished the first draft. It was pure joy writing it, now comes the editing, picture choices etc and finding a publisher. If any of you know a publisher or editor that might be interested in seeing it, I am prepared to send some chapters for perusal anytime.

Moon Rise over The Sea of Cortez from my roof

On the 7th was the full moon and I got this shot off the top of my bodega roof. The next morning I took a walk to the beach and ran across my fox friend who hunts the area around my place in the early evenings and mornings. He is so beautiful and does a good job controlling the feral cats that abound.

Desert Fox, not my pic

Just two days ago I went out with Vicente (his back is much better) but had no luck finding whales. We are entering the beginning of the peak of the season that lasts until mid March so plenty of time for getting ID’s. If I stretch my funds I may be able to go out a few times in April too. Sometimes April is very good.

I’d like to leave you with this short clip. It was sent to me by my daughter Kersti. I am certain this is a voice that is a gift from The Great Mystery. I can just imagine how much my “Whale People” would enjoy this!