Anyone been whale watching in Mexico?

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  • corimi 3 Dec 2009 14:21:36 1,311 posts
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    Just wondering if anyone had been whale watching in Mexico, preferably towards the north west?

    I've found several companies websites who operate around the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez, but it's hard to get a handle on which ones will be decent as most of the websites are pretty similar, in a limited way.

    Ideally two days whale watching would be good, don't mind whether it's an organised trip or 2 day trips. The goal is to see humpbacks above anything else, we're heading out in mid - late Feb next year.

    So, it's a long shot, but thought I'd ask in case anyone could recommend something!
  • Jeepers 3 Dec 2009 14:24:26 13,181 posts
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    I've not been myself, but get a secondhand copy of The Log from the Sea of Cortez, by Steinbeck. It's a beautifully written record of the trip he made their with Ed Ricketts (the inspiration for Doc in Cannery Row etc.).

    It'll set you up well for the trip.
  • otto Moderator 3 Dec 2009 14:28:00 49,314 posts
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    I've not been whalewatching down there but I've been a few times in Canada, off both coasts. Saw fuck all in the Pacific (one ageing Grey Whale doing nothing for an hour, yawn) but off the East Coast we saw loads and loads and loads - a pod of a couple of dozen humpbacks splashing around, diving under the boat, breaching, just amazing; Sperm Whales too and Minke Whales.

    I would say that two days is far too long, if you get someone who knows what they're doing then you'll see more whales than you'll ever want to see within about three hours; and if they don't know what they're doing then you'll sail around for two days doing nothing except getting hot, sunburnt, seasick and bored.

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  • corimi 3 Dec 2009 14:28:02 1,311 posts
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    Brill, thanks Jeepers - I'll definitely check that one out, it sounds great.
  • corimi 3 Dec 2009 14:31:32 1,311 posts
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    otto wrote:
    I would say that two days is far too long, if you get someone who knows what they're doing then you'll see more whales than you'll ever want to see within about three hours; and if they don't know what they're doing then you'll sail around for two days doing nothing except getting hot, sunburnt, seasick and bored.
    I had planned a couple of days in case we didn't see anything on the first day, but I guess if we could find a good operator we could go out once and move on after that.

    It's really tough to tell who's who - some of the companies only have PO box addresses in San Diego, but could be great regardless.
  • corimi 3 Dec 2009 14:33:22 1,311 posts
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    otto wrote:
    off the East Coast we saw loads and loads and loads - a pod of a couple of dozen humpbacks splashing around, diving under the boat, breaching, just amazing;.
    This sounds stunning :D Were you off Newfoundland?
  • otto Moderator 3 Dec 2009 14:34:58 49,314 posts
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    Well you can play it by ear, you shouldn't normally have to book these things far in advance; book it the night before, if you don't see enough on your first day out, then book it again for the following day.

    Web research should be able to tell you who the good operators are (should be other discussion forums where people have done this I'd hvae thought?)

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  • sirtacos 3 Dec 2009 14:36:53 7,280 posts
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    Try to see whether the agency has previously been hired by companies like the BBC, National Geographic and so on, and whether they have any professional (i.e not tourism-related) experience, such as being used in scientific expeditions. Those are usually good indicators.

    You're looking for people who love what they do, who have a vast amount of knowledge of, experience with and respect for sea life, and who love sharing their passion.

    The company you choose could make the difference between the most awe-inspiring moments of your life and a shitty two days on a boat being treated like cattle and staring at a vast expanse of grey and the occasional seagull. So research it well.
  • sirtacos 3 Dec 2009 14:37:29 7,280 posts
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    Of course a lot of it comes down to luck, but the right crew will usually lead you to where the action is.

    Experience: I spent 12 days on a boat in the middle of the Pacific and the shit I saw there was amazing. I give full credit to the crew, who were awesome.
  • otto Moderator 3 Dec 2009 14:40:20 49,314 posts
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    corimi wrote:
    otto wrote:
    off the East Coast we saw loads and loads and loads - a pod of a couple of dozen humpbacks splashing around, diving under the boat, breaching, just amazing;.
    This sounds stunning :D Were you off Newfoundland?
    We got the best results off Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy (pics 1 2 3 4 5 6), but we also saw lots of whales off the north coast of Newfoundland (1 2). In the Bay of Fundy there were several pods and they were all feeding and messing about with each other and with the boat, but not breaching (lots of tail slapping and fin slapping though); off Newfoundland there were more species - the sperm whale diving was really impressive - and we saw humpbacks breaching in the distance, very impressive, but too far away (and weather too shit) for good photos. But there were loads of them, you could see them out to sea as you drove along the coastal road.

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  • corimi 3 Dec 2009 14:47:17 1,311 posts
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    Wow, those Nova Scotia whale photos are amazing. Hope we can get any where near that close.

    Sirtacos, that's a good point about finding the more research experienced companies. Google seems to yield quite a lot of touristy stuff that looks slightly suspect! Next stop is to trawl a loads of guide books of the area, hopefully that'll give me a better steer.
  • corimi 29 Mar 2010 15:28:45 1,311 posts
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    Just wanted to update this - we managed to see some humpbacks as planned - thanks for the pointers all :) We used Ocean Friendly Tours in Puerto Vallarta which is run by an oceanographer. I'm glad we did as that area is pretty touristy and there were a few bad looking operators around there - herding people on to larger boats etc. Our trip only had about 12 people and was really educational as well as awesome.

    It was mating season so we saw about 17 humpbacks in all, males jostling with each other as they chased a female out of the bay - pretty dramatic stuff! Some pics here - http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=whale&w=51146070@N00 Not as clear as otto's (some need cleaning up too), but captured some pretty cool moments all the same.
  • sirtacos 29 Mar 2010 16:08:21 7,280 posts
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    Cool pics! Glad it went well.
  • otto Moderator 29 Mar 2010 18:12:35 49,314 posts
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    \o/

    /whale noises

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