Posted by: onboardtourswhales | November 14, 2018

Dolphin Dream Come True

November 1, 2018

Recently I joined a friend for a short trip to Mazatlán Mexico. My first trip to Mexico was to Mazatlán 30 years ago (besides Tijuana as a kid on family trips down the west coast) and I remember going through culture shock and not seeing, not even being aware of whales or dolphins in the area at the time. Preparing for this trip I did my research and was keen to go out on the water with Onca Explorations and Oscar Guzon Zatarain; a local knowledgeable, experienced Marine Ecologist Scientist, dedicated to sustainable, responsible, respectful of the ecosystem ecotourism, citizen science, educating and engaging the local fishers, community, visitors, and cetacean entanglement and stranding response. Our attitude going out on the water was no expectations, just happy to be out on the ocean, soak up the warm sun and water, and see whatever the sea reveals.

On several previous research projects there were possibilities to swim with free wild dolphins and whales, but hadn’t happened for me. Yet. As we headed out on the Pacific Ocean I asked Oscar if any Humpbacks whales had been sighted yet, they are a recovery success story. He said no, then bam! two Humpbacks came up exhaling on the horizon!! The first sightings of Humpbacks of the season in this area!! We were all elated, took photo identification photos, and noted the environmental conditions and behavioral sightings data. Then I asked Oscar about turtles in the area and bam! we start seeing Olive Ridley turtles resting at the surface throughout our trip.

As we headed further offshore a group of 4 Bottlenose dolphins came to our boat, we slipped into the water but they didn’t stick around, were not interested in us so we got back in the boat and continued west. It was a good practice swim in snorkel gear and protocol. Oscar spotted Spotter dolphins in the distance, who can be ‘friendly’, but this group was swimming away and we got information on the radio from fishers about Spinner dolphins further out, so we went about 25 miles offshore. Having sailed the Pacific, being out of sight of land doesn’t bother me. This was a fun cruise but not a party boat, an intention to learn about and connect with sea life, along with plenty of water, soda, snacks and lunch.

I had checked the tides and we arrived where the Spinner dolphins were at 11am, right at the peak of the low tide, and then slack water as I had hoped. Through the years I have experienced the most incredible, magical encounters with cetaceans during slack water; the brief hour when a tidal cycle has finished and before the next tidal cycle begins, the currents are calm and ocean waters can seem like lakes. I have seen the most surface active and unusual behaviors by cetaceans during slack water, and it makes sense as they are not using energy to go against tides and currents, or utilizing flood tides to travel. Oscar estimated the community of Spinner dolphins we met with were over 2000 animals. It was beyond a Wow!!!! Seeing these dolphins everywhere I looked, as far as I could see took my breath away. We went into the water and several dolphin came and checked us out, and many kept coming by for almost an hour. Oscar and boat crew Dive Master Israel (my snorkel partner) filmed for dolphin identification and data. You can hear clicking vocalizations on my GoPro video:

Dolphin are graceful agile masters of the sea. I hummed to see if any response (I think musical sounds can be universal communication), nothing obvious to me from the dolphins but a fish came by!

Just being, floating in the warm crystallizing clear blue water, while the free wild dolphins chose to dance by us, a personal lifelong dream came true, and long lasting natural high 🙂

Ethereal sun lighted Pacific Ocean and Spinner dolphins

First Humpbacks of the season!

First Humpbacks of the season!

Old Town Cathedral

Old Town Celebration

Old Town Square Gazebo

Malecon Mermaid Sunset





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