(Originally posted June 2010)
This is the third, and final post on the Baja trip I took in spring of 2009 (links for the previous 2 Baja postings are listed at the bottom of this post, in case you missed them). In this post, I will share some of my experiences with the blue whale, a pair of dwarf sperm whales, some manta and mobula rays, and some miscellaneous encounters.
The first images are of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), the largest creature on earth, with a length of ~100 feet! These huge animals have hearts the size of a Volkswagen … you could darn near stand up inside it’s heart! Our boat was a 100-foot vessel, and we had some closeup encounters that we could use to measure up to! We saw blue whales in both the Pacific Ocean (along the Baja coast) and again in the Sea of Cortez. We had hoped to see at least one blue whale during the trip, but managed to see ~12-15 of them! This first image is a blue whale as it “flukes”, lifting it’s huge tail out of the water to dive for food.
But one of our “extreme” experiences came when a blue whale surfaced on it’s side, just off the port side of our vessel. This happened quickly, and without warning … and there I was, on deck with my 100-400mm + 1.4x teleconvertor! Consequently, I did not capture any wide angle shots of the whale on the surface. But I did manage to get some pretty good closeups of the whale as it fed on krill that was at the surface:
Blue Whale feeds on the surface. Note the upper/lower mandibles of the mouth in this image.
Note the folds of the throat in this image, as the whale rolls away from us.
The blue whale experience was one of the highlights for us on the trip! And so lucky to have one right beside the boat … guess we were living right!
We also got to see a pair of Dwarf Sperm Whales (Kogia sima) near the end of our trip, in the Sea of Cortez. The 2 were spotted as sunset neared, making a beautiful sight for us. The Dwarf Sperm Whale is a bottom feeder, feeding mostly on squid. They have a unique lung system and are able to stay underwater for very long periods of time, up to an hour. When they surface, they will normally be at the surface for a very long time, trying to “catch their breath”. Here is my favorite image of the pair, just before they dove:
Other interesting creatures we saw included Manta Rays (Manta birostris):
and Smooth-tailed Mobula Rays (Mobula thurstoni), a much smaller version of the Manta Ray:
Mobula Rays feeding on krill at the surface. The small, pinkish “flecks” are krill jumping about.
A Mobula Ray jumps out of the water
Several species of Dolphins:
School of Dolphins arriving to ride our bow!
Dolphin bow-riding blur shot
Dolphin having fun with our boat
And we even saw a Sunfish (Mola mola) swimming at the surface:
I hoped you enjoyed your brief visit with me to Baja! If you missed one of the first two posts of this trip, you can view them from these links: