Baja California and the Sea of Cortez has to be one of the greatest whale hotspots on our amazing planet. Famous for the curious gray whales on the Pacific side and blue whales in front of the desert near Loreto.
In 2015 I went on a 12 day live-aboard trip down this incredible coast, leaving from San Diego, passing into San Ignacio lagoon and then around Cabo san Lucas and into the Sea of Cortez. On this trip we saw a total of 13 species of cetacean, including so many large whales like Blue, Fin, Humpback, Gray and Sperm. We also saw Orcas and many species of dolphins.
However, the highlight for me was an encounter with a Bryde’s whale inside the Sea of Cortez. I was with the inspiring friend of mine, Mark Carwardine on this trip, a well known professional photographer, zoologist and writer of whale books. We were following a couple of Bryde’s whales for a while. They are well known, like their other rorqual cousins such as Minke’s, fins and sei whales for being very fast and sometimes difficult to whale watch due to their dive times and speed.
All of a sudden one whale breached not far from the boat, a behaviour certainly not unheard of, but rarely seen in this species.
Everyone was so excited and Mark and the captain told us in decades of whale watching in this area they had never seen a Bryde’s whale breach before.
I have done thousands of whale watching trips and have only seen similar whales, like Minkes and fin whales breach in atrocious weather where you can barely stand up, let alone take photos. But this was beautiful calm weather. We all stood poised and ready in case it did it again. My arms started to ache from holding up my heavy camera. But we were not disappointed as the whale breached a further ten times! It was a very special encounter and one I will never forget and don’t think I will ever repeat.
We also saw so many dolphins on this trip, including many leaping bottlenose and common dolphins. This area is very special indeed.