Friday, March 6, 2009

Sea of Cortez - Production Adventure 6

Good friend Captain Greg Grivetto of Horizon Charters is on another eco adventure and this time in the company of the BBC as they film their much acclaimed series,“Last Chance to See”. Biologist, naturalist, writer - Mark Carwardine and esteemed actor Stephen Fry host this series and will be aboard aswe search for blue, sperm and humpback whales.

For the next two weeks he'll be sending us his "notes from the field":

After yesterdays interlude with the squid of Santa Rosalia we were back on "whale focus" today and started off early with an agitated humpback whale. The whale was being ruthlessly pestered by a pod of bottlenosed dolphin and a pair of sea lions that appeared to be playing "Lets see who can get under the big jumbo swimmer's skin!". Their tactic worked, as every couple minutes the whale would wildly swing and thrash it's tail in an attempt to, "Get those damn pesky flies outta my face!".

The coup de gras, which worked quite well, was a sudden spectacular full body aerial breach that occurred only 100 feet off the starboard side of Horizon! After that, no more dolphin problem...I think they took the hint.

We spent the next few hours drifting in wait as one of Lindblad Expeditions vessels was anchored in the exact locale that we wanted to occupy. The nerve, in a place as large as the Sea of Cortez, couldn't they find someplace else to go? Anyhow, it worked out fine as the BBC needed some down time to film simple shots around Horizon.

The early afternoon was very cool as we made our first landfall in 4 days at the Ancient Whale Bone site on Isla San Jose. Fossilized whale bones, turtle shells, dolphin skulls and clam shells embedded in sandstone decorate the landscape. The surrounding sandstone cliffs are beautiful in hues of brown, tan, red and orange. Mark Carwardine had wanted us to arrive on site before sunrise to take advantage of the beautiful colors that emanate from the rock during the explosion of sunrises first light. Unfortunately, due to the time it took us to make the long 170 mile traverse from Santa Rosalia, we weren't able to make it in time.

Large Sally Lightfoot crabs scurried from rock to rock while crewmember Kyle spotted a puffer fish and large amberjack as he gazed into the water along the shore. It was unfortunate that we had such a short time at Isla San Jose, we all could have spent additional time there.

Shortly after departing Isla San Jose I placed a call to another eco tour company that was whale watching in the San Jose Island Channel. A quick chat provided information on a large pod of sperm whales moving southerly through the channel, so we were off in search of the cousins to Moby Dick. Within the hour we had alongside Horizon 10 of these deep diving champions, seemingly unaware of our presence. The calm of early evening provided a surreal aire to the scene as we cruised alongside our black wrinkle bodied hosts. Another Sea of Cortez encounter that will not be forgotten!

Tonight we travel south toward Gorda Banks, with hopes of finding more charismatic humpback whales. From what I've been told, the film team already all the footage necessary to produce their show...the rest is gravy to an already amazing meal!

Until Breakfast,

Captain Greg

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