Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Whale Tales

Tina and I took an Eco-Tour to see the gray whales in Laguna Ojo de Liebre. A bus took us from our RV park to the lagoon.
We pass the salt flats where sea salt is harvested by evaporation. That is a huge pile of salt.
The salt company exports tons of salt that has a variety of uses, most of it not for eating.
 A beautiful morning with calm waters.
These are the boats, called pangas, that are used for the whale tours. Our guide is waiting for us.
 Climb in and don a life jacket.
And we speed away to find the whales. Gray Whales migrate down the west coast to these waters every year to have their babies in the warm shallow water.
We saw tons of birds on this trip, many new to me, like these Brant Geese (I think). I will leave most of the birds for a separate post, because this one is crowded with whales.
After many pics of open water and the backs of heads, we finally saw a whale spout. And suddenly there were many whale spouts.
 This is my best picture of a whale spout.
I also have a bunch of pictures of whale backs. You see them while the whales are doing their rhythmic breathing. They make 3 to five short dives, surfacing to breathe before doing a longer deeper dive.
 Sometimes they are just resting on the surface like this one.

When you see the tail flukes, it signals a deeper, longer dive.

This behavior is called spy hopping. 
 They poke their head above water, hovering with the eye exposed.
It is believed they do this to look around above the surface. They were probably curious about who was looking at them.
One of the highlights of the trip was this newborn calf swimming with its mother.
 The guide said this big baby was less than a week old.
 Mom (on left) and baby rise at the same time to breathe in this pic.
This magnificent whale came up close to the boat and played with us awhile.

 And good-bye!
 We left to let those other tourist get some pics.
On the way back we passed thousands of birds...it is a bird sanctuary as well as a whale sanctuary. I think these might be Royal Terns.

 Wouldn't this make a great jigsaw puzzle?
 Beautiful protected sand dunes...no dune buggies here.
 Guess who's on the salt barge? An osprey on top, and ...
 a sea lion!
 More sea lions.
 And we watched a pair of ospreys courtin'

 Or something...
Hope you enjoyed. Sorry I couldn't post all 500+ photos I took. The two videos refused to upload. Tina and I drove on down the road a ways, and tomorrow we'll find the beach where Beth and Mitch landed.

Land of the Boojum Trees

On our way to the next campground, we stopped for lunch in El Rosario at Mama Espinosa's, famous for crab and lobster burritos.
 I had Burritos de Langosta (lobster). Prices are in pesos.
 They lived up to their reputation.
 Beth had a lobster omelet, and Mitch had a meat burrito.
This is Mitch after tasting the hot sauce...muy picante.
After lunch, our route began climbing into the mountains,...
and into another world...the world of the boojum trees.
Boojum tress, or, cirio, are a type of cactus, but there are no others like them anywhere in the world.
Some say they resemble an upside-down carrot, but I think they look like a skinny Christmas tree, and their yellowish tassle of flowers on top look like a crooked star.

Boojum trees can grow to 50 feet tall and over 500 years old.
This other-world scenery becomes even more fascinating as we enter the Catavina boulder fields. Around and among them grow several types of cactus.
We have passed many signs warning of a "vado" ahead. A "vado" is a ford where water crosses the road. On the road to our campground we crossed one that actually had water in it.
We stayed at Rancho Santa  Inez, a large open camping area with a view of the surrounding hills, desert, and boulders.
This sign calls this area "Valley of the Boojum Trees"
In 1767, the Jesuits established a mission in the area.
Our campsites
Palms, cactus, and boulders.
Whatever dies in the desert is left for other desert animals to clean up.
Open areas invite you to walk among the cactus and rocks.
There is a wide dry wash that made a good place to walk the dogs.
A lot of good sniffs out here.
You can tell there is water here, not far beneath the surface.
We seem to be alternating between desert and seaside. Today we will split into two groups for a few days. Mitch and Beth will go on to seek out another beach, and Tina and I are going on a whale-watching adventure. We'll catch back up with them soon.