Sunday, November 09, 2008

Whales and Dolphins of the Gulf of California

Spring 2008
This magical place called the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) is home to over 30 species of whales and dolphins. It is absolutely one of the best places in the world to come and see everything from the largest whale (shown here, a blue whale surfacing) to the smallest (the endemic Vaquita, a tiny porpoise that lives in the extreme upper Gulf). So what are you waiting for? This is the place and the time is NOW!

Approaching 60 feet this fin whale is the second largest animal on the planet, after the blue whale shown above. Here in the Gulf there is a unique population of over 400 resident individuals that live in these waters year round. How can you tell that it is a fin whale? Easy, the right side lower jaw is white where the upper is dark.

Even from a distance and not fully out of the water that white lower jaw is easy to spot!

Short-finned pilot whales are often seen in large pods here as well.

With their bulbous heads and huge, rounded dorsal fins (especially noticeable in adult bulls), pilot whales roam the entire length and breadth of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez.)

What a pleasure to see them in glass-flat conditions, here just north of Santa Rosalia.

A head-on look at an adult male in clear waters!

A joyful bottlenose dolphin gives us a look as it leaps in the bow wake.

Long-beaked Common Dolphins happen to be the most common of all dolphins here in the Gulf, and we often encounter them in our travels. Notice the two remoras attached firmly to the flank and belly of this leaping long-beaked!

Side-by-side and racing along the ship. I particularly love the reflections!

Motion blur on the bow while surfacing in tandem.

So perfectly hydrodynamic! Notice how this dolphin is "lifting" the water as it gets ready to surface.