Thar She Blows




This morning we were rousted from our beds bright and early for our great whale adventure.  Bright-eyed and bushy tailed we were not as the entire night before we bobbed around the Sea of Cortes like corks in a wine barrel.  Kept us awake a lot as I insisted on a full-opened door and the splashing of the waves and the groaning of the ship was not helpful for sleeping.  

After breakfast, we were herded onto buses and we took a 2 hour drive from the dock at wherever we were to where we were to embark on pangas for our whale outing.  Each panga carried about 9 people plus the boat operator and one staff member from the ship.  We headed north into the wind toward the mouth of the lagoon where the Pacific Ocean met the lagoon.  I’m sure I could have described that much better but I don’t know how so there you have it.  We headed north to the Pacific Ocean…maybe that is clearer for the dear reader.  

 

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Pangas at the dock.

But I digress. 

When we first embarked, nary a whale was seen but as we moved north, there were a few blows noted.  And just as suddenly as there no whale sightings, we saw many blowing, then many breaches, then many whales.  OMG.  It was thrilling to be on the water with these majestic and kind creatures.  We were lucky to have for our guide, a Mexican from Colima that is an underwater expert and he seemed to possess a sixth sense for the whales.  They taught us how to notify each other where we saw these beasts of the deep.  The bow was twelve o’clock.  The right side of the boat was one, two, three o’clock.  The stern was six o’clock etc.  Very useful to help us look in the right location.  There was so many whales we almost didn’t need the system.  We easily saw 50 whales today.  Perhaps some were duplicates, but who cares?  There were great numbers of them.  Glorious experience.  Up close and personal.  But a quick note.  It is very difficult to catch the sea life on camera because the boat, and hence I, was rocking.  Secondly, the sea life doesn’t send out a memo.  They just appear and disappear just as quickly. Having said that:

 

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The whale picture I didn’t get.

Whales do this thing called spylooking.  They poke their heads out of water and peer around their location.  It reminded me of an “up pariscope’ type of moment.  Once they took in their surroundings, they sank out of sight.  And of course they breached though the scientific community is uncertain to this day what drives that behavior.  Sitting in a small boat and seeing one of these huge 40 ton mammals breach takes your breath away.  We cheered each time.   You get so close to them that it makes you realize how really small you are.   And while it is not scientific, our guide said that boats with small children get visited much more than boats with just adults.  And that “theory” got tested today because we had Addie, an 8 year old girl on board our panga.

Low and behold, a whale came very close to our panga.  Then it went under our boat and I got so excited to see it on the other side, I fell over backward and landed on my derrière on the floor behind our row of seats leaving my left leg hooked on my seat and I’m pretty sure the left leg is now longer than the right.  The nice lady whose foot I may have landed on, helped me get up and as I made my way to the right side of the panga, the whale came right up to us and visited. Before visiting,  it blew and Rayman got slimed.    As it nosed up to the top of the water, I very briefly touched it as I was splashing to keep it interested per the instructions from our underwater expert.  OMG.  The barnacles on it’s back were about the size of a chocolate chip cookie (2 to 3 inches in diameter).  We were the only panga today that had a close up and personal encounter today and we were the only panga with a child on board.  Our underwater expert guide assured us that this was usual in his experience.  Isn’t that fascinating?  How do they know?  They must have a way to communicate perhaps by spy looking.  Who knows?  No one.  

The rest of the day was spent in an afterglow.  

One thing I must mention.  As we approached the Pacific Ocean, the water got rougher and rougher.   The swells got higher and higher.  Much relief was felt as we headed back to the dock.  My tummy was feeling queasy.  Once we disembarked we all went to a local restaurant to have lunch before we then went back to the pangas for another two hour bout of whale watching.  On this ride, we saw a mother and it’s calf.  So cool.  This time we went south and did not see as many but the it wasn’t as crazy either.  The waves were much gentler and I am happy to report there was no barfing by anyone.  Seems fairly remarkable to me.  

After four hours in pangas, we jumped on the bus and took the two hour ride back to the ship.  It was a very long day.  Dinner was buffet tonight and boy, was I glad.  Get it, eat it, vamanos.  

As we were eating our tour director informed us that we would be experiencing high seas tonight with heavy winds as well.  I found the ship Doc and got a pill to take so that I don’t get seasick.   So, I’m fortified.  And the window will remain shut tonight.  

It’s time again to dream of whales.  

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