Islas de Revillagigedo

Narrative Trip Report

1. Introduction
2. Cabo (Whales and horses)
3. First Dive and the Boiler (Whale song and mantas)
4. Geronimo and the Birds (Debbie's booby)
5. Roca Partida (Wow)
6. Isla Socorro (Fusiles y delfines)
7. Humpback Whales (Snorkeling and reseach)
8. Final Dives (Blue water and Isla San Benedicto)

Photo Gallery

Mother and calf humpback, Isla Socorro

7. Humpback Whales

Humpback whales were everywhere, at every dive site.   I was tickled just to have wintering humpbacks about, tail lobbing, doing caudle-peduncle throws, breaching, and slapping their great pectoral fins on the water.  The ever choppy sea and the distance to the whales made photography difficult, but this didn’t trouble me.  I was happy just to be there and to hear them sing.  After the dolphin encounter I declined a second dive at El Acuario  and went whale watching with Geronimo and a number of other divers.  There were half a dozen whales in the area, but we focused on a mother and calf pair in the bay to avoid the chop.  Not surprisingly, Geronimo was a skilled whale watching captain, respectful of the animals despite the sometimes insistent badgering of his passengers.  The pair of whales wanted nothing to do with us.  A few hearty divers leaped into the water to snorkel, but the whales were long gone by the time they hit the surface.  Nearby, a pair of adults fluked one after the other, lovely white tails raised above the surface.

Earlier the same day, we found ourselves anchored in a sheltered bay with a solitary whale not far from the boat.  I slipped into the water with several other snorkelers, quietly making my way in the whale’s general direction.  No luck, and we were soon called back to the boat.  A few minutes later, a whale surfaced 50 yards away and interrupted our dive briefing.  Snorkels plunged into the water again, but I held back.  This time a much larger whale came up and began diving with the little one. One lucky diver saw the shimmering white bands of two pairs of pectoral fins pass underneath him as the mother whale took her little one far away from us. I’d wanted to come home with at least one good fluke shot to compare with the catalog of Southeast Alaska whales in the hopes of a match.  I was wholly unsuccessful,  but I like to think that I’d seen some these whales before.

One afternoon, two whale researchers tied up alongside the boat for some relaxation and a few complimentary beers.  I snuck over to take a look at what a real whale researchers' boat looked like.  It mostly looked cramped, with totes of food and equipment (I seriously thought about stealing the potato chips) and a few rough wooden planks for seats.  I didn’t envy them riding the inflatable through the every-present waves to watch the whales...(okay, maybe I envied them a little...).  The researchers were working for the SPLASH project and said that about 600 humpbacks winter in the Revillagigedo Islands; many of them hang around Isla Clarion, the only island of the archipelago that we did not dive.  Other researchers in their group were recording whale song, altering it, and playing it back to the whales to see/hear their reaction.

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