Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – Isla San Jose and Islas Los Islotes

Hello whalewatchers,

We started the day with a great sunrise at Punta Colorado on Isla San Jose this morning. After breakfast the group went ashore for a walk in the arroyo trail to observe desert plants and birds. We departed Punta Colorado and went east into deep water. We had great conditions again with light winds. The crew spotted some Peruvian pygmy beaked whales that are only found in deep water. Unfortunately they don’t stay at the surface very long, so we just got a look in the distance. We spotted a blue whale next–we have seen blue whales in four different locations within five days. That doesn’t happen every trip.

Blue whale on the surface

We travelled south and arrived at Islas Los Islotes for a snorkel session and a skiff ride with the sea lions. Everyone enjoyed the snorkel. The reef fish at this spot is one of the best places to snorkel in Baja. We ended the day with anchoring in Ensenada Grande at Isla Partida where we will have our back deck buffet and Margarita Night. We will spend the night and then head south to La Paz bay to visit the whale sharks.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 21st, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – Isla Santa Catalina

Hello whalewatchers,

It’s been a perfect day in the Sea of Cortez! We started with a walk on Isla Santa Catalina among the giant cactus, and then provided the chance to get underwater with a snorkel session. The weather is fantastic with calm seas, no wind and sunny skies. We then travelled west towards the peninsula hoping to find some whales, dolphins and any other wildlife. We came across a mega herd of common dolphin, estimated at about 2500-3000 dolphins! We spent some time with them and then continued west.

Fin whales in Sea of Cortez

We started to see some life with more dolphin and birds. Capt Mike saw a spout out about 5 miles, so we went that way and the further we went, the more whales we found. We spent the rest of the day with blue and fin whales, and they were all in the same area. It was fantastic whalewatching with great looks at both species. A highlight was four fin whales crossing the bow. The lighting was perfect and you could see the whales underwater.

We finished the day with chicken coq au vin and it was delicious!

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 18th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – Isla San Francisco

Hello whalewatchers,

Our trip north into the Sea of Cortez turned out to be a wonderful ride and we arrived at Isla San Francisco just after breakfast. The group went ashore for a walk and then came back and went for a snorkel. The garden eels were a hit as usual. We had a great lunch of “Cheeseburgers in Paradise” as we travelled up the San Jose channel looking for whales. We came across a single sperm whale, which we had to wait for an hour and 10 minutes for it to surface again. We saw it in the distance and got a look at it fluking. We decided not to invest another hour waiting so we went further north. We saw a single humpback whale and then some more sperm whales. We spent the rest of the afternoon with about 12 sperm whales, with four calves.
We ended the day with an awesome sunset.

Surfacing sperm whale

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 17th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – offshore Cabo San Lucas

Hello whalewatcherss,

We all enjoyed the good conditions and great whalewatching this morning! There were humpback whales and a blue whale in shallow water. We saw all the familiar behaviors: flipper flapping, breaching, fluking, and a cow and calf traveling together.

Diving humpback whales

We are headed north for dinner and then travelling up in to the Sea of Cortez tonight.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 16th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – offshore Bahia Magdalena

Hello whalewatchers,

We spent the day off Bahia Magdalena today and watched a few humpbacks early. We saw an occasional school of tuna on the surface with royal terns associated with the fish. After lunch we saw a pair of black-footed albatross. The further south we travelled, the more the ocean warmed and cleared. We started seeing a lot of life: birds, sea lions, turtles and loads of common dolphin.

We saw a Brydes whale and had really good looks at it. We went a little further and then we saw two blue whales. One of the whales was fluking, so we stayed with that whale for an hour. Then the second whale joined the other whale and they both were fluking. We had great lighting and another hour with those two blue whales. It was a great way to end the day with blue whales, a nice sunset and fresh swordfish for dinner.

Photo by Rob Nawojchik

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 15th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – Laguna San Ignacio, day 2

Hello whalewatchers,

We have great conditions this morning to start our day! We plan to get four panga trips in today with two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Last night we turned the generator off and had some silence for a while. We were able to hear gray whales breathing around us. The stargazing was great as well.

Close encounter with a curious gray whale!

Here is a photo of a close encounter with a cow and calf and one of our pangas. Our longtime friend Frederico was the lucky panga and shared with the other two pangas so everyone had a close encounter with a whale in good conditions.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 14th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – Laguna San Ignacio, day 1

Hello whalewatchers:

(Photo by Claire Sansom)

We had a windy transit from Isla San Benitos to Laguna San Ignacio, but here were lots of gray whales in the entrance to the lagoon to greet us. Everyone had an opportunity to take a panga ride to visit the gray whales this morning. A few people had a close encounter with a cow and calf, and everyone else had good whale watching. After lunch with the wind increasing, we decided to take advantage of the high tide and make a trip into the mangroves. The trip into the mangroves was a success with lots of birds seen. Everyone enjoyed their visit. In addition, the group went ashore and looked at the dead gray whales on the beach. We have a group of veterinarians with us this trip, and so they were interested in seeing the whale. Here is a photo of a curious whale approaching the bow of  Searcher.

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 13th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – Isla San Benito

Hello whalewatchers,

We arrived at Isla San Benito at daylight. There was rain in the forecast and now we are seeing that the forecast was correct, but we had a great sunrise with rainbows! Everyone had a good hike with plenty of wildlife. Most of the adult elephant seals have left to feed, with a few returning to the island to rest. Lots of weaner pups hauled out, and a couple of males still hanging around.

There was a good sighting of Guadalupe fur seals. A group of 12 seals were together in one area. And ospreys were spotted on their nests.

Guadalupe fur seals @ Chris Shields

After leaving the island we came across two Laysan albatross and two black-footed albatross. The shearwaters and auklets were abundant as well.

Black-footed albatross @ McGrath

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 12th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #3 (Mar 9-20, 2019) – offshore and Isla Todos Santos

Hello whalewatchers,

We departed last night on trip #3 and everything went smoothly with our immigration check in Ensenada. We travelled out to Islas Todos Santos and came across a small group of long-beaked common dolphin. It was our first look at wildlife! The current status of elephant seals at the island is that all females have left their pups. It’s time for them to go back to the feeding grounds. There is only one adult male left on the beach. Two weeks ago, there were 12 females with pups and a single male.

There are several harbor seals with pups on the beach and in the water. There are lots of brown pelicans on the nest and we got a look at a peregrine falcon on the highest peak. We left the island and saw several northbound gray whales. We spent some time with a group of four so everyone could get a look at their first great whale of the trip. We found another group of long-beaked common dolphins, about 500 animals. We spent some time with this group in great conditions with calm seas and clean water.

The birdwatching was good as well this morning.  We saw lots of Cassin’s auklets and black vented shearwaters. We continued south and anticipate arriving at Isla San Benito after sunrise.
Captain Art and Team Searcher

Afternoon update:

We had some unusual rain today but a very calm ocean. We had a rare sighting of five Cuvier’s beaked whales. They were at the surface multiple times and within a 100 yards of the boat. It was the highlight of the day!
Traveling overnight, we will arrive at Isla San Benito after breakfast tomorrow.

Searcher at Anchor – Isla San Benito by Lee Morgan

Capt Art and Team Searcher

March 11th, 2019|Trip Reports|

Tour #2 (Feb 22-Mar 5, 2019) – Sea of Cortez

March 1-4, 2019

Greetings whalewatchers:

We arrived in La Paz bay this morning and the activity of the morning is swimming with whale sharks. The water was clear and the whale sharks were cooperative. Once they were located there was no issues with getting good pictures. Divers and observers got great looks and photos at close range.

After completing the shark portion of the morning we cruised over to Los Islotes for some birding and sea lion watching, as well as a round of snorkeling to finish out the day. It was a busy day and a good time was had by all. Capt. Buzz and Team Searcher

Greetings whalewatchers:

Our day at San Jose started with a hike and snorkeling. Everyone enjoyed good views on the hike followed by good fish interactions underwater. At lunchtime it was time to pull the anchor and go whalewatwching. The weather was calm and so we decided to swing outside Las Animas and explore along a steep submarine shelf. Dwarf sperm whales are known to inhabit the area but are only seen on the calmest of days. This was one of those days. With several pairs in the area there was good viewing. Including a cow calf pair (pictured). We were also surprised to see a small group of the rare pygmy beaked whales along the same drop off.
Capt. Buzz and Team Searcher

Dwarf sperm mother and calf pair

 

Greetings whalewatchers:
A beautiful sunrise greeted us and started our day at Isla Santa Catalina. Hiking on the island was the first order of business followed by snorkeling and “Krazy Koastal” skiff rides. Now it was time to pull the anchor and go whalewatching. We headed the Searcher farther up the Gulf towards Monserate and Carmen islands. There was a little more breeze this afternoon. However, when we got to the area between the islands we were greeted by the blows of fin whales and blue whales. We spent the remainder of our day in this area enjoying the large spouts and some good looks at these massive mammals.
Capt. Buzz and Team Searcher

 

Fin whale

Greetings whalewatchers:

The pristine anchorage of Isla San Francisco was the starting location of our last days’ activities. There were two hike destinations this morning. One on the hill behind the anchorage and the other across the salt flats across the island. Snorkeling and beach walking were next up, followed by lunch and whalewatching while heading down the coast towards Cabo. The ride downhill was quite pleasant and late in the afternoon we saw a cow calf pair of fin whales. This is the last report of a memorable trip aboard the Searcher!
Capt. Buzz and Team Searcher

Isla San Francisco anchorage

March 8th, 2019|Trip Reports|

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