Saturday, April 28, 2012

This is a recent crop circle. I find it strange that a phenomenon of such interesting possibilities is relegated to the media “freak bin"......then again, maybe not so strange, eh?

Mid February to Mid April had been quite a time for good friends, parties and delightful conversation. Here’s a pic of my son Zack, me and friends at John and Nantz’s beautiful home just north of me. Great party!

                     Nantz, Zack, me and Alan 

This group of charming ladies came by Shangri-La to add their feathers to my “spirit tree”. For those who come to visit, you are welcome to add your own feather.

Susanna, Patrice, Nantz, Cary, Sara 

 This is the way the “spirit tree” looks at this point. It is a new tradition for me, and allows me to imagine the spirits of my friends wafting in the breeze.

 On April 11th I took Nantz, Patrice and Sara out to help me spot Humpbacks. We came across two in front of Boca del Alamo and I got two ID’s, one a really good one.

 HB# 22 12

Then we spotted a large number (4-6) blows further out and they appeared to be Humpbacks, maybe Blues. We high balled out to about 7 miles and discovered a large group (20-25) of Sperm Whales. This was only the second time in all my searches down here that I have found Sperm Whales. They come here regularly but are not seen often. I had seen 4 Sperm Whales in 2007 but was not yet confident enough to dive with them so I didn’t, but vowed that the next time I would. Well, after a few photos I decided to go in and had what has to be yet another premier experience swimming with The Whale People. Vicente figured I got within 20-30 feet of the group but once again the water was not clear enough to see them underwater so I could only glimpse their backs, dorsal and flukes as I swam along. There was also a little bit of chop and the fact that there were at least 20 whale bodies around me stirred the water up a bit.

Close up with some Sperm Whales

My spotters, Sara, Nantz, Patrice

I went out again a week later but saw no Humpbacks. I did however see another Gray Whale, and a Bryde’s Whale. The Grays rarely come in here but The Bryde’s Whales are quite common.

Gray Whale #5 12

Bryde's Whale

Figuring that the season was over I was surprised to see a Humpback breaching directly in front of my place. I grabbed my camera and got this shot, not good but I felt it was a good-bye wave from The Whale People until next year. Fantasized that it was my old friend “Odin”.


Some weeks ago my good friend Alan Pomeroy swam with a group of “spiraling” Mobulas. I had never seen that but I could imagine how cool that must have been. Well, The Gods looked upon me favorably once again and I ran into another “spiraling” group on the 21st. I had gone out to The WZ to see what was happening and there was NOTHING. However, there were some Mobulas swimming nearby and as I watched them I noticed that they seemed to be circling. Now, I would have not paid much attention to that if it hadn’t been for Alan’s story. I paddled over and damned if they weren’t spiraling below me. I dove over the side and became part of the Mobula spiral for a while. Seeing as I was not a Mobula I was not in the competition for a mate but there were no hard feelings on either side.

Took my last turn out with Vicente on the 22nd, nada. So I’m done for the year. It was not a particularly good year in numbers, only 22 ID’s, but to be with my whale friends at all, is a gift and I cherish and appreciate it more than you know.

This morning, Sat. 4/28, I woke up with the intent to kayak out to The WZ. I got to the bluff and saw that there was more of a swell then I usually kayak in and as I turned to go back to my trailer, I said, “no, I will go out, if I stop now, I’ll stop again next time and I will weaken” (I know, I know….obsessive). Well, I went ahead and even made it out to The WZ, damn glad of it!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

My extended family from Quebec were here for a month, and as always it was wonderfully pleasant. We were able to ID a Gray Whale and some Humpacks while they were here and even got in a series of dart games at the newly opened cantina in El Cardonal. We left rather early but the music did not stop until the last revelers left around 7:30 in the morning. A bit jarring, the cantina is only about 150 yds from our place, but it has not been repeated so far.

Gray Whale # 3 12

Brigitte at the wheel

The day The Q’s left my daughter Kersti and husband Bill came in. They have not been here in ten years so there were some visible changes in the town (paved street, sidewalk, new store etc) but they fell right into The Baja groove and were ready to experience everything.

First on the list for me was to get them in the water with some whales. Neither had been out with me before so the whole “whale experience” was new to them.

Kersti and Bill

The day started with yet another Gray Whale (#4 for the season) and then a search for some Humpbacks.

Gray Whale # 4 12

We were gifted with the appearance of three adult Humpbacks about 7 miles out from Punta Pescadero. Their intro was dramatic, a double breach of two males side by side, totally clearing the water not 100’ from our panga…..and then the show started! Apparently it was either two males vying for a female (it is after all breeding season), or three males testing each other. We followed them for a good two hours and then I asked Kersti and Bill if they wanted to go in. Both said yes without hesitation, so we suited up and twice went in as close as we could get, which at one point, was no more than 20’. They seemed to be curious about us and totally benign as always. Turned out that Kersti has always been afraid of deep water (we were in about 1000’) and this was a major test for her. I was very proud of them both.

Kersti and Bill after whale swim

This is a pic of HB# 15 12, one of the three we dove with.

HB# 15 12

Just as a note, my friend Alan Pomeroy came across a Whale Shark on the 28th and took an extended swim with it…..congrats, Alan!

The day Kersti and Bill left, my son Zack came in for the week. He was here two years ago and had the full on “Whale Experience” with me then. A somewhat similar “competitive” event as Kersti and Bill witnessed with the addition of about 40 dolphin. On the 31st we got a radio call while on a grid search that there were two Humpbacks near Los Barriles, 15 miles south. We hustled down there but felt we had missed them until I spotted two kayakers in the area. We stopped and asked them and they pointed SE and said they saw them there about 20 minutes before. I asked Vicente Jr. to take an angle on Punta Colorado and we began the search. V Jr. is an “Eagle Eye” like his dad and about ½ hr later he spotted them.

HB# 16 and 17 12

We couldn’t get an ID on them because it was a mother/calf pair and she would not fluke up and leave her baby at the surface. I got a good series of flank shots and then asked Zack if he wanted to go in. he did and we were once again able to get relatively close but not enough to see them under water. We too took a hike to the pictographs, did 3 WZ kayak trips, worked out on the beach and did some fine visiting.

It was a very special time having my kids here, I can’t believe I was able to keep up with them.

Kersti and Dad

A few days ago while taking some compost out to the desert I spotted a large raptor in the branches of a small tree about 30’ from me. Even with the cataract I could tell that I had not seen this species before. I walked closer and was treated to the beauty of a Harris’ Hawk. This is the first one I have ever seen.

Harris' Hawk, not my pic

I went out on another grid search yesterday with Susanna, Steve and John. ID’d a Humpback off of Punta Pescadero and then went out deeper. No luck so started north and got a call that there was one still there. Was it the same one? Yes, but then we see it change course to intercept two other Humpbacks moving south. Soon all three are together and once again we have evidence of some “combat”. Some tail lobs, trumpeting and lots of flank collisions. Also two more ID’s…..a good day! Here are the two "combatants"

HB# 18 12

HB# 19 12

Picture below is me and Steve swimming with one of The Humpbacks