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Snorkeling & Wildlife Photography
“Get closer, get closer!"
“In the overwhelming excitement of the moment, I forgot that Loreto, my guide, spoke no English. It didn't matter. In the water directly in front of us was a mature Blue Whale, the largest living creature on Earth, and the first live one I had ever seen in all my decades of diving the oceans of the world. And I was about to slip into the water with it."
Last year I was in an open 28 ft. dingy out of Loreto, Baja California. I had heard that Blue Whales had been spotted migrating to this area to feed on the upwelling of krill and to give birth. As if further confirmation was needed, rising out of the water directly in front of me were a pair of whale flukes that stretched nearly twenty feet across. As we crept in closer, the Blue Whale exhaled, generating a sound like an eighteen-wheeler locking up its brakes at fifty miles an hour.
I was so entranced by the sight I forgot to take a picture.
This year, based on our latest reports from National Geographic and the BBC, we have learned that clusters as good or better as those found off Mexico will be found in the clear waters between San Diego and Coronado Island. We will dive with the Blue Whales in an area 15 to 40 miles offshore between San Diego and Coronado Island.
A spotter plane will leave early in the morning and spend 3 to 4 hours performing its search while we leave with our experienced captain aboard his 29', 10 passenger, 350 HP boat toward the same area. If advised by our scouting pilot, we may proceed to a different location where the whales have been discovered.
During this time of year, many different marine animals arrive in Southern California to feed and breed. While we make our way toward our destination, we may have several opportunities to encounter other marine life along the way including Sun Fish, Mola Mola, Blue Sharks, schools of Tuna and more. We can then free dive into the beautiful blue waters with cameras in hand to capture these extraordinary visions. We will have a ball.
In the event our encounters with the whales are favorable, we stay out until evening. This will allow us to be close to the action, learning more about the whales' behavior and providing quality photography encounters above and below water with the shy Blue Whales.
The largest living things on Earth, with a small but slowly increasing world-wide population estimated at between 1000-3000 individuals, Blue Whales can reach nearly a hundred feet in length and weigh over a hundred tons. During last year's expedition, a magnificent Blue Whale cruised effortlessly directly in front of our boat. It was a good eighty feet in length - longer than any whale I had ever seen. It's not surprising when you realize that at birth they are twenty feet long and weigh in at two and a half tons.
Blue Whales are also noted for their low frequency moans and calls that are believed to travel over a thousand miles through the ocean depths.
In three weeks of daily searching we are likely to have enjoy the thrill of encountering numerous Blue Whales: not only solitary travelers, but mothers with calves, and sometimes groups of three or four. The trick is to think like a Blue Whale, and seek out the special spots where the richest upwelling of krill occur. An experienced guide, who has lived in the region all his life, is adept enough to read the cold waters and deceptive currents.
Blue Whales are very shy. It took days to learn how best to approach the wary giants with the boat, and to ease into the water with them. After two weeks, our technique had improved enormously. Learning how to anticipate the whale's pattern of swimming is a large part of being able to successfully interact with them and to photograph the Blues in their habitat. The entire experience contributed to the most challenging and rewarding wildlife encounter I have experienced to date. Do I plan to encounter the Blues again? Is Moby Dick pale?
Now equipped with the hard-won knowledge of how to locate and approach the Blue Whales, I plan to conduct three 9-day Blue Whale Photo Expeditions in June & July. Not by myself, of course. To maximize the exclusivity of this extraordinary opportunity, and to ensure that the whales' tranquility is not disturbed, I have decided to limit each expedition to only 4 guests only . As mentioned above, in addition to seeking out the Blues on the sea, we will also make use of a chartered spotter plane, performing an aerial search as well as providing a unique photo opportunity for our guests.
Who else in the world would lead such an expedition with only 4 guests only other than a photographer who is absolutely dedicated to wildlife photography? Be the first to join with me in this unique and unprecedented journey”.
- Amos Nachoum
Photograph courtesy of Amos Nachoum