Friday, March 16, 2012

Vicente Lucero and Urmas, 2012

I’m starting my blog with this very recent picture of my “pangero” Vicente Lucero and me. This is our 8th season together as “The Dynamic Duo” of The East Cape. We have encountered and ID’d over 250 Humpback Whales, some of which were world class pictures, and thereby are the standard for that whale, at this time. We have had only one “recapture” (a whale identified by us in more than one season in our grid ) during our work so far. Here he is, HB# 12 12, ‘Odin”, and here is his story (taken from my book that is in review).

The Saga of “Odin”

The first whale I ID’d in 2008 was an active and playful male Humpback that gave Vicente and me a grand and long show of exuberant surface behavior. I figured he was a juvenile male of no more than two years old. He gave us a number of “flukes up” and became HB# 1 08. Later that year my son Zack adopted him and named him “Odin”.

In 2009 I again ID’d Odin (my first “recapture”) and saw him 5 more times during that season… time with a “girlfriend” that he had to fight another whale to keep, and he did. Once again his overall surface behavior was exceptionally playful and vigorous.

I didn’t see Odin in 2010 but lo and behold….and MUCH to my surprise, he showed up again last season (2011). The Humpbacks who travel here to Mexican waters during the winter breeding and calving season have 4 different and widespread locations within our waters to congregate, therefore “re-captures” are rare in exactly the same area from one season to the next. I also had the pleasure of swimming with him for a short while without even knowing it was “Odin” until I got his flukes picture up on my computer screen later. I informed Zack and Jorge about the encounter and it was agreed that this was indeed pretty amazing.

Then this season, 2012, yes, Odin shows up yet again! He was alone but just as active as ever, he’s a real showman! He is now also HB# 12 12, being my twelfth ID of this season. Zack is coming to visit in a few weeks…..will we dive with Odin? Will my son Zack have the unique opportunity to “meet” Odin, Eyeball to Eyeball?

"Odin", flank shot, 2012, HB# 12 12

The 4th sighting of “Odin” was a special day in a number of ways, not the least of which was seeing my dear friend Christine Lee Gist again. A delightful young lady with a deep affection for “The Whale People” and a quick, inquisitive mind….what better company on a grid run? Before the day was over we were treated to a large herd of Pacific Common Dolphin surrounding our boat, at least 2-300, along with two Grey Whales (rarely seen in The Sea of Cortez) and 4 Bryde’s Whales…..damn fine day!

Grey Whale, notice splotchy coloring and almost no dorsal fin

Grey Whale "fluking up"

Grey Whale fluke shot, GW#1 12

Bryde's Whale, note shape of dorsal fin

I should add that we had also gone out the day before and seen NOTHING…..perseverance furthers, no?

Here’s a nice shot of my extended family from Quebec (Tristan, their middle son, is in Norway as an exchange student right now). I have been honored by being adopted by them as a member of the family since 2010.

From left, Quentin, Antoine, Brigitte, Jean-Luc

I went out on a search last Monday with Vicente and came across this Blue Whale about 6 miles out.

Blue Whale, B# 1 12

He/she was not particularly cooperative so my ID shots are not good, but this one is not bad. I haven’t seen a Blue Whale in my grid for the last two years so it was a real treat.

I have had some real nice opportunities to kayak out to The WZ in the last few weeks but have not had any whale encounters. I have seen lots of dolphin, turtles and Mobulas, but no whales. The other day I came across 4 or 5 Vaquitas that let me get within 20 feet but then dove away. They are a porpoise rather than a dolphin, and are quite rare, found only in The Sea of Cortez I believe.

The pictures below are not mine but express certain feelings that I entertain at present.

I call this "Lament"

And Yet!!

There is a GREATER reality, is there not?