Due to the virus our week 6 group was depleted, but those who stayed were from England and Virginia. We all had a fabulous time out at San Basilio. It was relaxed, beautiful as ever, and full of the wonders of life both on and off the sea. Here I will add that the beauty of this particular part of the Sonoran Desert is simply put dazzling. Walking among the lushest desert on earth (Sonoran), beneath the largest cacti on earth (Cardon), and next to the richest sea on earth (Sea of Cortez) is a pleasure that for me grows with each and every year I come here. This week we had extremely satisfying dessert walks which are reflected below.
The wind which has hounded us all year was still in place and we had yet another day with rain making this by far the most rain we have seen in our 25 years here. The normally brown and barren looking islands now all have a green sheen and a new look which though unfamiliar is most wondrous. We had grand pods of dolphins and fish boiling a the surface this week. We have seen more brown and blue-footed boobies this season than ever, but strangely not one shearwater or storm petrel which is highly unusual. The whales are still here, still feeding, still pooping those rich nutrients into the sea and still seem most content. I will add that although some individuals have been in the area for most or all of the season, many still look thin as they did when they arrived. It seems these last few years have shown us more thin whales than we have seen before, and while this does not bode well for their future, it sure it good to see them feasting in these mostly quiet and safe waters. It also makes me wonder how late they will stay here this year. Things could be well set up for them to stay far longer than anything that is usual. It is my hope the food holds out and the whales gorge themselves here until their protruding vertebrae get covered by their blubber. Then of course they will have to move on to the other food sources they are familiar with as productivity winds down here which it inevitably will.
We saw a most amazing tail on a blue whale this week, with more than 1/3 of it missing from what seemed like an old injury. We named that whale Luna, and Luna was travelling right beside our old friend White Eyes. Those two highly unique flukes emerging from the sea near to one another and within a minute or two of one another was a sight I will never forget. White Eyes has been around for a while now appearing on both sides of Isla Carmen then disappearing for a week or more and then re-appearing again here or there. Luna can be seen below and White Eyes in an earlier blog from this season (Week 2 or 3)
We had great walks in the desert this week and some of us had wonderful snorkels at San Basilio. It was such a healthy and relaxing last week. We will stay part of this week, probably go out to sea for a short day and head home a little early under the circumstances we find the world currently in. Here in Baja we feel safe and we took our last guests to the airport yesterday. With our accommodation all paid for, our boats and car rentals all paid for and our fridge full of food we are very tempted to stay here a bit longer. But alas we changed our flight home for 5 days earlier than planned with great ease. The agents were easy to get in touch with and really helpful so we are now set for later this week to come home.
The station is now being packed up, the fecal samples transferred to a more permanent freezer here in Loreto and we are taking some days to rest take long walks on deserted beaches and gather our strength for the trip home and whatever we face when we get there.
Thanks to all for following what has been a great 2020 Baja season! I will do a season ending post soon with numbers of whales and more. The blue whale numbers will be healthy for the first time in the past 3 years I’m most happy to say.
More fairly soon, Michael