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White Shark Expedition 2017 Trip Report

You just never know what to expect from Guadalupe Island. Of course it is almost guaranteed you will see great whites, even though I hate to use that word when it comes to wild animal encounters, because there is never any guarantees. But with the amount of white sharks in the area during this time of year, the chances of encounters are very high. Plus, that is why I always choose September for the month we visit Guadalupe. The sharks are in full force.

ariel 1.jpg

Of course the big question is always, how many sharks will we see? I have had some lean seasons out there, where we only saw a few white sharks, during our three day trip. Don't get me wrong, having the chance to see even one white shark is still an honor. Because any trip where you have great whites hanging around is always a great thing. But when you have experienced 15 plus white sharks on an expedition, you realize how special this place can be. And that is what I want for everyone, opportunities for our friends who travel with us to see as many white sharks as possible in the short time that we are there. 

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Well this season, we had an EPIC trip. It was an amazing group of people, and we had white shark, after white shark, show up to our boat. In fact, today I got the email from the observers/researchers that were aboard our boat. They recorded 24 different white sharks that had visited us this season. 24 is a new record high for us. 24 WHITE SHARKS! That is a lot of white sharks during a three day period.

Last season we had 21 different white sharks visit us. Which was a new record for us then. Sadly, it was only two days, we lost the third to a hurricane barreling down on us. Who knows what that extra day would of brought? Of course we will never know, but it is nice knowing there are a lot of white sharks in the area. 

white breach.jpg

So back to this season. Upon arrival, we had sharks within minutes of dropping our anchor. Once the sharks arrived it was non-stop all day, the sharks were on fire. They were breaching on the hang baits all day, with a lot of close passes by the cages, which was great for everyone. Those encounters provided a lot of opportunities for every type of photo and video our friends were hoping to capture. Face shots, side shots, multiple sharks, breaching shots. Most were half breaches, but there were a few full breaches as well. A bonus added to the shark action was; the seas were calm, the sun was out and the visibility was amazing. It was a dream. 


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I even had time to break out the drone and record the whites breaching on the hang baits as well. It was crazy. Guadalupe Island delivered this season and the encounters were everything that we all hoped for.  I guess it is good that you never know what you are going to get when you show up to a place, because, surprise is the spice of life. Makes me anxious to find out what is in store for us next season?


White Shark Photo Gallery

Two Months of Craziness...with the SDM crew.

 I apologize for the long waits for my blogs. When I committed to my goal of blogging my entire season, I knew it was going to to be a tough goal to accomplish. But damn, I didnt realize how hard and exhausting it really is to do. Especially while trying to accomplish everything else as well. You know, marketing, email writing, hosting, editing images and videos and spending time with my family.

Of course I admit, it was easier when all I did was record videos. But I have gotten deeply into photography as well. Something I had not concentrated on for a very long time. But I fell in love with it again and I have been enjoying my time behind a shutter. The thing is, I am not just shooting underwater wildlife, but also topside animals as well.

Coati

Which is why I changed the name of my blog from "Notes from a Shark Junkies Journal." to "Notes from a wildlife junkies journal." Because I am shooting everything now. Every type of animal that flies, runs, crawls, swims and hops. I haven't quite gotten into bugs yet... but if they are birds, reptiles or mammals, I want to shoot it. Of course my true passion is the ocean and everything in it, especially sharks. But I am enjoying the land life as well.

This new direction is exhausting though. Because of my addictive personality I am shooting all the time now. When I set off on a dive trip, I shoot all day in the water. Then when I return to port, I clean up, refresh the batteries and cards, change lenses and set off to find more animals to shoot. It is fun as hell, but it has been physically taxing. 

The SDM crew

The SDM crew

Anyway, on to my blog...for two months I have been on the road; traveling, shooting and diving with the SDM crew. I haven't done anything like this since we filmed Summer of the Sharks back in 2006. That was a road trip doco I filmed with my bro, Andy Murch. However this time I did it with my loves, which was amazing. The trip was full of fun, craziness and of course headaches because yup, you're traveling with your loves. So here is a quick recap of what I did during my time on the road;

 I started my adventure on June 17 in Mexico, where I took a group of happy crazies, to swim with American crocodiles off Banco Chinchorro. This is an annual trip we run through SDM diving every summer. As usual, when I bring people to a place, I am always a mess, worrying about whether the animals we advertise will show up. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry for very long. Upon our arrival, we had crocs swimming up to our boat. And when they arrived, it was on. They stayed the entire two days we were there. (we lost our third day to a storm that rolled in.)

We also visited the island to check out the ranger station. This was a great opportunity to check out the wildlife on the island. The island is pretty much just a huge mangrove. It is thick with marshes, small estuaries and trees. Here I found a few different bird species, two iguana species and some mating land crabs to photograph. 

When the trip ended I hooked up with my family (June 22), and spent the following two weeks (on a mini photography vacation), hanging out in Playa del Carmen with my son David, who lives and works there, seeking out loggerhead sea turtles to photograph. I didn't score any though. We shot an Atlantic green and a bunch of hawksbill sea turtles, but no loggers. I have photographed one before, but I am not happy with how those images came out, so I really want to reshoot it. 


During our  time, me and the SDM crew, (my wife Maritza, Sophia C. and my boy Gabriel), rented a car, (a small little box car, we dubbed the Red Ruby), and went on a road trip through the Yucatan. We visited Rio Lagartos, Coba, Punta Lagua and Tulum. We were in search of birds, monkeys and Mayan ruins. It was a lot of fun and we photographed a lot of animals.

Pink Lakes

Rio Lagartos was an amazing place to visit. We hired a boat and went out birding. This place is a birders paradise. It is also known for it's Pink lakes. These lakes are where flamingos get their color from. The salty minerals turn the plankton and the shrimp pink. The birds eat the shrimp and that is how they get their color. Pretty wild. The lake itself is beautiful and the wildlife here is all time.


 Birding in the Yucatan


The highlight of this road trip was visiting the wildlife preserve to seek out spider monkeys and howler monkeys. These animals roam free throughout the forest. The best time to visit the reserve is at dawn and dusk. That is when the spider monkeys are easiest to find. Many of the fruit trees they enjoy are close to the reserve entrance. So we found them pretty quickly. The howler monkeys however are not. It took us two hours to find them. When we did, it was unreal

SDM crew, Maritza, Gabriel, Sophia C., and me.

SDM crew, Maritza, Gabriel, Sophia C., and me.

The howler monkeys have this crazy loud roar. If I was walking through the forest and I heard that roar and I didnt know what animal made it. It would scare the crap out of me. It is loud. The howlers are small but thick. They look like mini gorillas. Beautiful little guys.


My boy David coming in from a day at the office.

When our time in Playa ran out, we said goodbye to my son David and made our way to Isla Mujeres (July 7), for our annual whale shark expedition. We have been bringing people to swim with whale sharks here since 2005. I have experienced some amazing moments with these sharks and this year was no exception. The sharks were on fire. We arrived at the right time and had hundreds of sharks all around us. Always an amazing time. Thankfully the governing body that manages the whale sharks gave out less permits to the operators and there was not as many boats out there. Which is so much better for the sharks.  So many of these sharks have been cut and banged up by boat propellers. You would think they would require all boats to have prop guards. But sadly, so far nothing. 

Whale Shark Gallery


After we said goodbye, we headed home (July 14). I was only there for less than 24 hours, then I boarded a plane and was off to Churchill Canada (July 15), for our annual beluga and polar bear expedition. It was an amazing trip, the water visibility was not the greatest due to a colder than normal winter with record snow fall. The snow melt mucked up the river. But despite the poor vis,  we did find some areas with decent visibility , plus we had hundreds of belugas and that always makes for an amazing time.

My bro Thomas seeking out wildlife.

Everyday we went out in search of polar bears and other wildlife. (the birding in Churchill is insane). We were driving around for hours trying to find bears. Sadly, we didn't find any while driving, it was a bit early in the season for them, but we did find one while out on the boat. Seeing that one polar bear made everyone's trip. He was a big battle scarred male, with blood on his face. It looked like he just got into a major scrap.  Bears are just freaking awesome. Next season, when we go back to Churchill, I am going to spend a few more days with them. I want some quality bear time. 

Beluga Whale Expedition

The trip ended and I reluctantly left Churchill. I took an early morning flight to LA (July 23), and met up with my wife, Maritza and my girl Sophia. We hooked up and jumped on a plane (July 24), bound for Fiji and Tonga. 12 hours of flying is tough to deal with but so worth it when you climb out of the plane and your in Fiji. 

We spent a couple of days exploring Fiji. We rented a car and drove around the island. The birding is great here, which I loved, but I really wanted to photograph a fruit bat. They are commonly seen here and are huge animals. They have been nicknamed the flying fox.  After a couple days of seeing the land and scanning the skies for birds and bats, we flew to Tonga (July 28), for a week of humpback whales. I was able to photograph a lot of bird species in Fiji, but sadly no bats.

Birding in Fiji        


Tonga was epic. There are so many whales here it is crazy. I have been to other places for humpbacks; Salt Cay, Baja, but really there is no comparison. Don't get me wrong, Salt Cay and Baja are really good and very special places. But Tonga is mind blowing. There were so many whales, lots of moms and very friendly calves. And that is because we arrived early in the season, the big migration of whales had not arrived yet. I also added a new shark species to my seen it life list. The zebra shark. I have seen one in an aquarium , but that was a captive shark and it does not count.  

The main reason we went was to see if we wanted to add Tonga humpback whales as a destination for us to take our friends to...and hell yea it is! The whales are unreal with great visibility, the reefs are beautiful and the island just rocks. This is a new home away from home for us. I can't wait to get back there. 

Tonga Gallery


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A huge highlight for me on the Tonga trip was watching my Sophia in the water with these beautiful whales. She is so much fun to hang out with and dive with. Every moment with her is a privilege. She was a total mermaid on this trip. She never wanted to get out of the water. She was trying hard to improve her free diving skills and set a personal record of 6 meters. Which was insane to see. I was on fire!

Fruit Bat

Fruit Bat

On our final night in Tonga, they took me to a small island to see is I could find fruit bats. Our host Darren swore they see fruit bats fly from the island at dusk. So we walked around the entire island without seeing a single bat. However right at dusk, fruit bats began emerging from the interior of the island. hundreds of them began flying around. I was not prepared for it and I did not have lights to photograph the few bats that came close to us in the failing light, so I took a few proof of life pictures.  I am more determined for next season to bring lights to get some good images of these big beautiful bats. 

Sophia C. with the crew from BAD divers.

We ended our time on Tonga and headed back to Fiji (Aug. 5), for a few days to hang out with Mike and the crew from BAD divers. It was time to introduce Mari and Sophia to the Fiji bull sharks. This was my Sophie's first real shark dive. She was blown away. She was super cold, so she only did one dive but she rocked it. She was very comfortable around the sharks and blew everyone's mind. She is the youngest diver they have ever taken on their shark dive, which was really cool. Another nice little personal memory for her (and us).

Fiji Dive Gallery

We ended our trip on the other side of the world and jumped on our plane bound for California (Aug. 9). We scheduled a few more days in California to visit with friends and my Cali. cousins before we flew home back to Texas (Aug. 14) to relax, catch up on emails, work and more importantly spend time with our  families.


As I write this and post the images and videos, I am finding it hard to believe this all happened in a two month period. It feels like a weird dream. Everyday was amazing and special, and crazy, and hard, and frustrating all in its own special way. I am very happy the two months are over, but also sad that they are over. I have been home for a week now and I have already forgotten how exhausting the travel life is. All I can think about is dropping everything, packing up my gear again and getting back out there to seek out more craziness with my crew. September looks like a good month to make that happen... So why the hell not?

Thank you all for reading. 
 

 

 

 

My 3 Month Adventure Begins with a bit of Crocodile Diving

I am on a three month long adventure right now. Mexico, Canada, Fiji, Tonga and California. It is going to be a wild roller coaster ride. Totally looking forward to the run. I officially kicked it off in Mexico; I arrived on June 17 to take our group of adventure divers to Xcalak Mexico for our annual crocodile expedition off Banco Chinchorro, MX. Of course, we got there and received the news all divers hate to hear. Storms blowing in and the port is closed. So we all silently kicked and screamed, and begged the weather gods for a break. The forecast for our week was not looking good. We had a storm front that had stalled and was causing hell over the caribbean. It was not looking good for our week of crocodile diving. 

When we woke the following morning however, the weather was beautiful. The port was still closed, but the sea was flat, the sun was shining, and there was only a slight breeze. We tried to get the port master to open up the port but they stubbornly refused. So we all sat there, looking out into a perfect ocean, not quite understanding why we were not allowed to go to Banco Chinchorro. They finally allowed us to go out and do some local diving, but the crossing to Banco (which is two hours by boat) was still forbidden. But thankfully that changed.

Somehow in the middle of the second night, the storm that was threatening to end our week of croc diving was gone. The prayers to the weather gods seemed to have worked. The port master also cleared us to motor over to Banco Chinchorro for our crocodile trip. 

The crossing was amazingly smooth, and we got over to Banco Chinchorro in record time. As we were unloading the boat at our fishing cabin, the first crocodile swam in and it was game on. Over the next two days we had 12 different crocodiles come and visit us. Of course the star of Banco Chinchorro is Gambit. He is a 9 foot crocodile and a solid player. He knows the game and is so well behaved. Such an amazing animal. It took a while but he finally graced us with his presence.

Gambit

Gambit

We had two good days of weather and crocodiles all day long. Banco Chinchorro was on fire. However the weather gods decided that enough was enough and on the evening of our final night, the winds and the rain hit us. It blew hard all night and when we woke up in the morning, it was still blowing. We decided that it would be best to pack up and head home. We knew the ride back was going to be rough, the wind was picking up and the swells were building. So instead of spending one more day with the crocs, we said goodbye to Banco Chinchorro for another season. Despite only having two days with the crocs it was an amazing trip. The crocodiles performed like rock stars for us. It was an amazing show.

Photo gallery

I also took advantage of my time at Banco and we visited the ranger station on the island. I was able to photograph three new species of birds to add to our birding photo portfolio as well. 

My time in Mexico continues on…Next blog, my days spent at Xcalak, photographing wildlife and my hunt for the loggerhead sea turtle.

 

Confessions of a New Birder!

Green Parakeet off Mcallen, TX.

Confession time…I have become a Birder. I know, I know, it sounds like a terrible thing for me to say. But it is true. I am officially a Birder. Not exactly the blog people expected on a shark diving page, especially after such a long break from posting blogs. I was supposed to write up a blog about our kick ass Socorro trip, and our Bimini dolphin trip, from back in April…which I haven't done. But those are coming (I think?). For now, this is the why and how I have morphed into a self-professed Birder.

When I got back from our last two trips, we had just sold our house and had to move into our studio apartment. We down-sized from a 3,500 sq. foot home, to a 700. We decided to change our lifestyle completely, into a travel more, buy less friendly lifestyle ( more on that crazy downsizing later). Anyway, that was a huge undertaking and a big freaking pain. So I had to take a break from traveling / blogging to do what I had to do, - move my family and stuff from point A to point B. 

Well, the dust of that has settled, and I got back into the mind set of documenting the journey…however, I was finding it difficult to write about my last experiences. The reason is, I am always moving forward, so it was hard to sit down and go back to those moments and share what I was feeling when I was on those trips. I have shared some images and short videos on our FB and Instagram pages, but I haven't written anything about them. And they were both such amazingly great trips. But like I said, it is hard to go back because I am so zoned out on what I am doing right now. 

The month of May was a blur. I have been home here in Texas. No diving, just moving and lots of unpacking. The no diving part kills me. However, I made the most of it… during my 'no traveling' down time, I have been helping my 11 year old daughter, Sophia C. with her photography. She has decided she wants to be a wildlife photographer when she grows up. Specializing in underwater wildlife, of course. So I used this time to help improve here photography skills (and mine). So every morning, we visit our local wildlife and birding centers to seek out animals to shoot.

SOPHIA'S PHOTOGRAPHY

It was during this time that I found out something extremely special about my hometown area. We live in one of the greatest birding hotspots in the world. I always knew birders loved visiting the Rio Grande Valley. What I never realized was how special this place really is. There has been over 600 species of birds documented in the state of Texas. Of those 600, more than 500 can be found here in the RGV. 

So with this new information, me and my Sophia have decided that we want to photograph as many of them as possible, in between trips, when I am home. So we set a goal of photographing 500 LRGV (Lower Rio Grande Valley) bird species. This is something that will take us many years to accomplish. But this is a great project that me and my Sophie can do together… it will help my Sophie (and me) with learning how to shoot wildlife better, and the best part, I get to hang out with my girl all the time. 

So there it is, I have officially become a birder. We will be documenting this journey as well. Both me and Sophia will be co-writing in a new LRGV Bird Blog we are starting. Sharing the images, videos and more importantly the journey, of our own Big Year. Here we will share, her progress as a wildlife photographer and the countdown from one to 500 birds of the LRGV. Hope you guys will enjoy, again sorry for the long break in between blogs - and thanks again for following along on my ever evolving craziness of a life.

Humpback Whales - Our last night and day on Island.

March 11, 2017 - Three weeks of HIGH, High’s and LOW, low’s. Salt Cay is a one of a kind place. It truly was a learning experience for me, when it comes to patience and dealing with the ocean, wind and wildlife. I love this place; experiencing and learning that, no matter how big an animal is, if they do not want to interact with you, they will not. 

It is crazy, when I arrived on Salt Cay, I had these high expectations and dreams about what I thought was going to happen, but of course when you are dealing with wild life, everything you think or hope happens, goes directly out the window. But it's what makes these encounters and moments so special when they happen. Because if it was easy, the magic would completely disappear and it would just be a zoo, and there is NOTHING special or magical about zoos'. So we took what the gentle giant gave. 

Of course the weather played a huge factor in our time here. Every week the winds would kick up and kill our chances of seeing whales, or getting to areas where the whales would hang out the most. So we had to make due with searching for whales in areas where the sightings were few and far between. This is course was completely out of our control, but when you have people with you, all seeking out top encounters, you hurt for them. 

I had an amazing time here. In fact, I am really going to miss this place when I leave. I am going to miss the pace; donkeys in the streets roaming free, magical sunsets, starry nights, great friends, locals just making it through their days with a smile, and doors that never had to be locked, which is such a rarity in today's world. Salt Cay is amazing and whales are magical animals and when they allow you into their world, there is no greater feeling... I am more than sure, I have found a new addiction.

Humpback Whale Expedition- HELL YEA...What a Great Day!

March 1, 2017 - WE HIT THE JACKPOT…Finally. So after three days of bad weather and no whales, we got our great day. We ran into a breeding group of four humpback whales. There was three males, all trying to win the affection of a female. We spent an hour and a half with this group. They were fighting with each other, all of them in hot pursuit of this female who looked like she was enjoying the attention. 

I was on fire. Everybody got to spend quality time with the whales. We jumped in with them over and over to watch the show. The weather was still tough on us. Towards the end we had to leave, the swells were building and white caps were everywhere. So we called it a day. The ride home was just so great. I was exhausted from swimming and smiling ear to ear. Everyone was tired and chattering away. I love that feeling I get when people see the animal they came here to see. It is the absolute best.

 I really wanted our friends to have an amazing experience but this exceeded anything I could of hoped or dreamed of. I was so happy for them - and for me. My anxiety finally got a break. Yes the ocean was kicking our asses and because of it, we had not gotten opportunities to see the whales. But we paid our dues and we were rewarded for our time out here. The ocean gods gave us this amazing gift. What a great day. Of course we still have two more days left to find whales...damn, there goes my anxiety again.

Today's Images from our Session. 

Humpback Whale Expedtion - I have hit a low!

February 28, 2017 - So the last three days have been tough as hell. The weather has just kicked our asses. The wind for the last three days has been coming out of the east. Sadly all our great whale encounters have been from the east side of the island. So, needless to say we have not been able to get out there and see if we can find any humpback whales. 

We have been out looking for whales but they just have not been there. I have reached a low point emotionally with this. It is hard taking people out there to see a wild animal. It is rewarding when the magic is happening and everyone is having the time of their lives, but when it is not…it is really, really hard. We have made the most of our time. Some of us have gone diving, others have explored the beauty of this island. Don't get me wrong, everyone is having a good time, each in our own way. But WHALES are on everyone's mind.  We - need - whales. Sometimes you can want something so bad, it feels like you push it away. I have seen that happen to good friends of mine, so maybe its just my turn to have that happen? Just not sure???

(a few stills from our dive.)

So, I hit a wall today, emotionally. From January 1, it has been go-go-go and we have had to deal with a shitty winter/weather season so far. It really feels like its been one, after another. I am frustrated and feel like complete shit and just feeling terrible like I let everyone down. I know that it is the weather and I can't do a thing about that, but I still feel as if it is totally my fault, because I brought these people here. They trusted me and they came here to this place to swim with whales. It is just tough. 

I posted March 1 in the video. That was a mistake, it should be February 28. Sorry guys. I got the date wrong. 

Being away from home, for going on two weeks doesn't help. Yes, I on a beautiful tropical island, yes, I am with very cool people, but being away from my family is always a hard thing to deal with. Hoping that today finishes up to be a better day. I really need it. Sorry for the low today, but it is, what it is. Not always sun and rainbows.

Humpback Whale Expedition. The New Adventure Begins... FInally!

February 18 - We arrived on Salt Cay. I was excited to finally get on the island. Nervous as hell but happy. When you get to a new place you never know what to expect. I mean, you have ideas and dreams of what it will be like, and you hope and dream it will be amazing, but you just don't know, until you touch down and see the ground. SO it gets me real nervous for my friends who travel with us. Love the hell out of the people who travel with us and I want them to have an amazing time. So until I see where we will be spending the week, and until we see the animal we are hoping to encounter. I am an emotional mess.

We landed and the first thing I noticed was this tiny little airport. It was as small as the airport off Cat Island, Bahamas. And, as my good friend Daniel Botehlo once told me, “the smaller the airplane, the smaller the airport…the best diving!” So based off of this, I was thinking we are in store for some epic shit! At least I hope we are.

We drove through town and Salt Cay lives up to its name. It is filled with salt ponds. This was once an economic salt producing powerhouse, that dates back all the way to the 1800’s. Salt Cay was once the economic hub for the salt industry, distributing all throughout the Caribbean and the americas. All that remains of that industry, are the historical buildings and salt ponds, which pepper the island.  And donkeys! There are donkeys all over the island. They used the donkeys to carry the salt to the long boats that would come in and pick up the salt. Now they are left alone to freely roam the island and be cute donkeys…enjoying the life their ancestors obviously did not have, as beasts of burden.

We got to our Villa, and were blown away with not only the house, but the view of the ocean, sunsets and sunrises here are just the best. This is not going to suck hanging out here for the next few weeks. So, so far, so good. Lodgings are a check! Humpback whales…we will see? Tomorrow is our first day in the water.

February 19 - Our first day on the water. We went out looking for whales. Sadly the whales are late this year, which is unusual for this time of year. Normally by now, there are a lot of female whales with newborn calves hanging around. However this year, the mothers and babies are late? Most of the whales that are here now are horny young males, all seeking out females to mate with. So it was difficult getting close to them. We could see breaching whales and we would approach them, but when we did, the whales would run (or swim away, if you want to get sciency on me.)

SO despite our efforts we did not get any encounters, other than breaching whales in the distance. My stress level is through the roof right now.

February 20 - We went today and hit the freaking jackpot! There were a lot of whales today. It was still horny male teenagers and they were still kind of skittish, but they were a lot of them around and close together, which made jumping in for encounters really good. Even though, many of the encounters were brief, it was still great having the opportunity to get in and see some whales. We saw a mating pair, (from the boat) which was great. We also were able to jump in and see a bunch of whales courting and flirting. It was a great day. We left the water that day, really excited and hopeful for the week. All of us thankful for this great start to our week. 

Have to note that, the morning was beautiful, but the afternoon was tough, wind and rain came in and made the ride home extremely crappy. I was hoping it was just a passing storm and nothing that was going to stick around. Sadly it did and we were not able to get out the following day.

Humpback Whale Adventure Begins...Travel Day...ALL Freaking Day.

February 16, 2018 - Travel day. My stay at home was so short on this one. I was only home for a day and a half, before I had to turn around and head back out. That is the hardest part of doing this for a living. Leaving home and my family. It is never easy. 

Anyway, we left Texas and spent the entire day traveling (4AM to 9PM). Mcallen to Dallas to Miami and finally Providential, Turks and Caicos. Of course we still need to catch our flight from Provo to Salt Cay, but we do that tomorrow. Thankfully my camera, Vera got to ride shotgun with me on this adventure, so she was safe and happy.

Vera all safe and snuggled up next to me. 

Vera all safe and snuggled up next to me. 

Today we are hanging out in Provo, a 24 hour layover. Which is cool, it means we get to catch up with a member of our extended shark family. Our buddy Tracie lives on Provo, so we will be meeting up with her later for a few beers and my first Turk’s sunset.

That is my favorite part of the travel life. Making friends in different parts of the world. Like on our last trip to Baja, we over nighted on our way home in Mexico City and got to catch up with more of our extended shark family, Jero and Jorge who live there. On this trip, we are meeting up with Tracie. 

Speaking of sunsets. So we left the house at 4am and were up in the air at 6am. Flying to Dallas we got to see the sunrise, which was just awesome. By the time we left Miami for Provo, we were watching the sunset from the air. Both of them were beautiful, each in their own way. As I have always said, you can NEVER watch too many sunsets. 

So tomorrow we catch our puddle jumper to Salt Cay. This is my first time here and I am excited and nervous. I always get nervous before a trip. Nervous for our friends who join us on these trips. We are headed there for humpback whales and even though I know the whales are there, I am still nervous. Because there are never any guarantees with wildlife. Especially whales, because you can't chum them in. So its always a natural encounter. So until we see that first whale and until our friends get to jump in with them. I am biting my nails…the adventure begins!

Before my buddies remark... yes, since winter is over...I traded in the arctic blond look for a more summery look. 

Next blog, live from Salt Cay. Thank you again guys for reading and watching our blogs. If you like what you read and see, please subscribe to our channel and share this blog. That helps out so much. 

Baja Grey Whale Expedition - Just Damn! What an amazing adventure.

February 10, 2017 - We arrived at the airport in Reynosa, Mexico, to board a plane bound for Baja. This was a trip I had been itching to do for a long time. I had seen the images of friendly grey whales seeking out attention from people on boats and this was something I had to experience for myself. We were checking in and dropping off my gear, when the ticket agent dropped a bomb on me. My precious Vera was too heavy and had to go under the plane. I was devastated. My camera has always rode shotgun with me on all my trips and the thought of her being in the luggage where anything could happen to her just killed me. I felt sick.

We boarded the plane to fly to Mexico City, which was where we would pick up our connecting flight to La Paz. I watched them put Vera in the cargo hold, so I knew she was going with us. Of course I didn't see her in Mexico City, so the next four hours was murder on my soul. When we landed in La Paz, I watched them unload the bags but I didn't see her. Finally as the bags were making their way down the conveyor belt, there she was. I grabbed her off the belt and the box fell open. I quickly shut her before everything spilled out. I looked inside to see if anything was missing. Thankfully everything was there. I breathed a deep breath and relaxed for the first time since take off. The adventure could now officially begin!

We jumped in our rental car and took off towards San Carlos. It is a 3 hour journey though some absolutely beautiful landscape. Giant cactus plants, golden brown grass peppered the sides of the roads and rolling mountains and hills everywhere…Baja is defiantly eye candy.

February 11, 2017 - We headed out for our first day on the water. It was a beautiful morning. There was a lot of cloud cover, which is typical. But I knew as the sun rose throughout the day, it would burn them off. No words can truly describe how amazing this day was. I knew it was going to be special when I planned this trip, I just did not realize how special. You can talk about it and dream about…but until you are there, with your hands gently touching a whale. Just damn. I am not going to waste too much time writing about this day. Please watch this video blog I have shared, it truly sums up how amazing these moments are. Oh yea sorry about the shaky video at the end of my vlog. I was so on fire I couldn't contain my excitement.

February 12, 2017 - We headed out for another day on the water. Today’s conditions were not as good as yesterday. The clouds were thick and were drowning out the sun. But despite that, it was still a beautiful day. We went to the same area, but today the whales were not in the mood to play. There was more serious business going on. MATING! Everywhere we looked whales were trying to pair up. They were dancing and wrestling. Thrashing tails and lots of rolling. We watched this amazing show completely in awe. I finally brought out my drone. I was nervous and I wished I had more practice with it, because I hovered it over mating grey whales. We got to see this crazy ballet from the air. It was fun and I was excited that I got some footage. If I was a better pilot and shooter it would of been BBC shit that I documented. But sadly, it was another Eli production filmed in 3B (three beers and it looks good!). 

I had fun and am looking forward to next season already, becuase we will be returning to this magical place. This trip is definitely going up on our expedition page. I cant wait to get back there. 

Next Blog Report - Travel Day - Headed to the Turks and Caicos for humpback whales

GREY WHALE PHOTO GALLERY