Yes I am still saying awesomeness

It is Friday and nearing the end of this two week photo voyage we have been on. The pure awesomeness that I described during the first half of the trip has been exponentially achieving new heights of awesomeness every day.

We are on day 11 of our trip, and we have already seen 11 different species of cetaceans. I would have felt grateful to experience seeing 11 different species of cetaceans over the 3months I will have spent in  baja, but to see 11 in 11 days and have very good looks at all of them is more than amazing. ! have also acquired two new species of sea stars for my collection, as well as a paper nautilus.

Yesterday Alberto and I went diving at San Pedro Martir in conditions I can only describe as salp soup. The water was murky and the water column was completely saturated in gelatinous membrane. There was this mysterious, but overwhelming majestic feeling swimming through jellys in the dark water with the rocky bottom completely covered in plant life. It felt strange like something you could only feel from looking at a picture in a magazine, not something that you would actually experience. This could have been thoroughly enjoyable and serene if it were not for the extreme numbers of sea lions swimming with us and having their curiosity grow the longer we were in the water with them.

We did not end up staying down too long, but I believe it was good that we got out when we did because I don’t think either of us knew how bad we had been stung by the hydroids in the water. I am currently completely covered to the point of blistering on my legs. Last time we were out diving I got stung on the lips and it made my tongue numb, so I am thankful to only be stung on the arms and legs for now.

Short finned pilot whales

Short finned pilot whales

The afternoon intentions were “at sea” with “…sperm whales…???” written next to it. So although I did not get my hopes up too high to spot a sperm whale, I had been looking forward to this afternoon of the trip all week long. The first thing we spotted on our at sea afternoon was something much more exotic to the area than sperm whales, killer whales. Off in the distance we could see the large dorsal fins rising out of the water, but as we got closer the view was a little more confusing. The killer whales did not seem to be traveling in a particular direction, and there seemed to be something else in the water with them. We got closer only to realized that there was a pod of 10-11 sperm whales in the water and that the killer whales must be trying to attack one of their young. Away from the group charged a large male sperm whale, traveling at such a rate he created his own bow wake while smacking his fluke on the surface and headed straight towards the pod of sperm whales and killer whales. The sperm whales then formed a rosette with all of their heads facing towards the middle and the young sperm whale protected in the middle [much as musk oxen do].It was not long after we showed up, and the adult male sperm whale charged the killer whales that the killer whales left the area.

Image

After the killer whales “retreated” or “gave up”, the sperm whales came out of their defensive positioning it was easy to see that it wasn’t a young sperm whale at all, but a very small baby. There is no way to know how long the killer whales were there harassing thesperm whales before we arrived, or the full reasoning on why they left, but I don’t think there has ever been a photo cruise more content with the swift departure of killer whales.

Image

Off in the distance we began to see fins breaking the surface, which turned into an extended visit from a pod of short finned pilot whales, traveling with some bottle nosed dolphins in the mix. With all of the larger baleen whales we have been watching this trip, it was pretty amazing to see 4 species of toothed whales within an hour. The pilot whales stayed for as long as the light did, getting close to the sperm whales who stayed in the areaand allowed us to get continued good looks at them all. The sperm whales did not seem impressed with the visit from the pilot whales, but how were they suppose to know the sperm whales were having a stressful day?

sperms

watched a blue whale as the sunset this evening. Tomorrow is a new week.

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