Thursday, March 4, 2010

Whales Tail


Are you starting to see another pattern to the titles of our posts? Yesterday evening Terri and David from Angel Fire, New Mexico arrived at the door of the Arctic Fox to announce they had put together a trip needing 5 passengers on a panga with Fernando to go see Blue Whales, and if we wanted to go, we should meet them at Puerto Escondido at 9am this morning. We’re game! Especially since the start time wasn’t as early as yesterday’s fishing panga.


So at 9am off we went with Fernando, the boat captain, Terri, David and Don from Montana on a 22-foot panga to chase down Blue Whales. Turns out Fernando, originally from Mexico City, but living here for 25 years working with the whales, knows everything there is to know about Blue Whales, in addition to being a good boat captain. He informs us Blues are the largest of all whales, and the Sea of Cortez is one of an extremely small number of places where they can be seen near shore. Some of them hang out here between January and March each year, and Blue Whale babies are born here in small numbers. Unlike Orcas, which have several resident pods near our home and with which we’re somewhat more familiar, Blue Whales mostly live and travel alone, except to mate, and when Mom and Baby stay together for 7-8 months. Blues are baleen whales eating only krill.


As usual, we sent a couple SPOT messages noting the GPS coordinates of our locations on the water, so if you’re interested, check out the SPOT locations in the side-bar on the right side of this blog. We went about 20 miles south just off the shore of the village of Agua Verde, a place we visited on a day trip last year, and almost immediately located a lone Blue Whale, so tracked it for a couple of hours. THAT GUY WAS BIG!!! Fernando estimated he was a somewhat small Blue, only about 80 feet, but when his back broke the surface, it looked like an 8-story building lying on its’ side. Blues have a ridiculously small dorsal fin for their overall size, and mottled blue-gray-white skin, and their blow holes look enormous! This one would surface 7-10 times about 45 seconds apart, then show a tail fluke and dive deep for the next 7-12 minutes.


After following this one, we headed north about halfway back to the Port and came across a Mom and Baby. At first they were spread apart about half a mile, but eventually came together and swam in synchrony. Even the baby, at approximately 1 month of age, was already 20 feet long – having started out at about 12 feet. Fernando says these guys drink 40 gallons of Mom’s milk daily and can gain 5-6 pounds of body weight each hour – good thing they don’t need a wardrobe!


After 6 hours on the water we were back at the Port and headed to our next “engagement” – curry dinner with Carl (our sailing and fishing buddy), his wife Chris, and a dozen of their beach friends, including Tom and Cindy with whom we shared cocktail hour night before last. Chris’s curry is a killer chicken curry – delicious, spicy and served over rice with great chutney on the side – yum! We also had fabulous Yellowtail Poke (usually made with tuna) for an appetizer, courtesy of Dwight – the first time Cathryn can recall ever enjoying raw fish!

And last but not least, as we were enjoying our curry dinner, who should show up driving their motor home down the beach looking for a new spot but Doug and Jill, the Canadian friends from Penticton who we met last winter and shared a couple of evenings with last month in Los Barriles! They parked next to our Arctic Fox, and we’re looking forward to catching up with them again tomorrow – another reunion!

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