Isla El Racito Sea Lions – 3/9/2020

We sailed a couple of hours north and headed into Ensenada el Pescador where we eagerly looked around for the large sea lion colony which the guidebook said was located south of Punta el Pescador (Bay of Fishermen).  We dinghied around Isla El Pescador and around the point but couldn’t find any sea lions. 

The kids decided to swim to Isla El Pescador (Fishermen Island) to explore and while they were there Andrew talked to one of the Panga boats who told him the seals were south at Isla El Racito.  Mark, Julie, Andrew and I decided to see if we could find the sea lion colony.  It didn’t take long to find the low-lying rocky island covered in sea lions and birds.  As we approached the many large males barked at our presence, but also eagerly entered the water with the females and juveniles to see what we were up to. 

We donned our snorkel gear and slipped into the water, wondering if we would be welcomed or not.  We were very quickly greeted by our inquisitive friends who glided past us, while the ever-present males occasionally chased them off if they got too close or we did.

The great thing about the location is that it is so shallow you are in at the most 2 metres of water and at times less than a metre.  It was amazing.  We decided to return to our boats to gather the kids and bring them for a snorkel.

While Max and Ava have generally not wanted to snorkel with the seals, the fact that the Love and Luck girls and Tristan were going was enough to sway them to as well.  We gathered all our gear and loaded up the dinghy tied on to Love and Luck who motored and anchored close to the sea lions.  Andrew bought a dive tank with a regulator.  Tristan and I put on dive belts and sat at the bottom with the tanks and regulators hoping the sea lions would approach us, unfortunately you really need the whole BCD for it to work and we spent most of our time clutching large stones to weigh ourselves down.  We quickly gave up on that and opted to just snorkel with them instead. 

I had researched that sea lions are more interactive if you spin and twist and turn in the water, Julie had told the kids this and it was quite funny to watch them all somersaulting and spinning in the water.  I watched Ava hanging upside down and a nearby sea lion did the same thing.  The kids found one sea lion with a scar on her face who quite happily came close to the kids for a better look.  The was one very large male who had obviously not done so well in a fight and had an injured tail flipper which he seemed to be keeping out of the water and laying very low

Eventually we returned to Love and Luck for a motor back with lots of excited chatter about our fantastic time with the sea lions.

Before heading to the Bay of LA in the morning, Julie and I tried to find the pathway between the two bays, on a morning walk.  The walk wasn’t so exciting, but we did have a beautiful sunrise with the dark clouds looming above.  The photo was not so great.

Isla Partida

Post and Photos by Tristan Deeley

When we sailed (well, motored) into Isla Partida there was much excitement for everyone, me and Dad especially. The water was the bluest we’ve seen in the Sea of Cortez, and it wasn’t long after anchoring that Mum, Dad and I went for a snorkel off one of the points east of our anchorage. The first thing you will notice in Partida is the swarms of grouper. Dad suggested a few other terms, perhaps plagues of grouper, but whatever it is it’s almost unbelievable. At any one time you can see around 200 grouper, maybe more, all decent size and all very curious. When you turn, they follow, and when you dive down they stare. For me, the best measure of the sheer numbers of delicious fish would be when I saw four golden grouper in a line, one after the other. Leopard grouper only have a 2% chance of mutating into golden grouper, and those that do have the new pigmented skin aren’t very well camouflaged, so to see four in a row is insane.

I swam out in the deeper water, maybe fifteen or twenty metres, and was immediately greeted by two turtles coming up to the surface right in front of me, followed by a shiny black mobula ray. The stingers got pretty bad, though, so we tried over on a point to the west of the anchorage and were just as surprised.

I had a shovelnose ray come up off the bottom to swim around me when I dove to take a look, but I couldn’t get too many photos because when I rose to the surface Mum was frantically calling me over, shouting “Nudibranchs, Tristan!”

Shovelnose ray

It has been Mum’s long and fairly unsuccessful goal all year to find nudibranchs. She mentions it every time she goes snorkelling, and on the two times I’d seen one this year she’d been very jealous, so Isla Partida was kind of a dream come true for her. Along the rock ledge, you’d often see several clumped close together, and probably fifty during a whole snorkel. They’re pretty strange-looking things, but provide great excitement.

I decided to try and swim through a pass to the other side of the point, on the outside of the anchorage where the current was ripping through, and was rewarded within two minutes when I saw an octopus sitting on a rock. He was missing a few legs but that didn’t slow him down too much when he decided to swim away.

Mum was very jealous again, of course, so we took the dinghy around to where I’d seen it and Mum and I jumped in and spotted two octopi on the same rock, who quickly changed colour from brown to bright turquoise. I feel a little bad for the number of photos I took, but it was okay, because when they decided I was too much of a hassle they just swam away, giving me some video to shoot.

On our snorkel we’d also seen someone from another boat spearfishing and hold up a decent-sized kingfish, so Dad and I got up at 7 and went trolling with rods around the point. Dad kept reminiscing on last year, in this very anchorage, when he’d caught 4 kingfish in the same day. After a couple barracuda and a needlefish, we hooked our first kingfish, and after that it just… kept happening. We did several laps over each school and caught 9 kingfish. I was having a bit of trouble with lures, so only 2 were mine, but the next morning when we caught another 9 to freeze, I’d swapped out for a squid lure and five of the fish were mine.

We snorkelled a few more times, seeing more octopi and nudibranchs, as well as cool other fish and some pretty big arrow crabs. It was a shame when, after three days or so, the green water came up from further south and we lost all the clarity. All in all, though, it’s probably been my favourite spot in the Sea of Cortez so far.

Catcophony of Noise

written by max deeley

A big thanks to Heidi for allowing us to use her photos again. After our Celebrity dinner party with Love and Luck, we began planning our next party. By the end, we had decided on dressing up as cats, a fact that excited the cat lovers in our group. Throughout the week we were planning the party; Tristan, Ava and I sewed our cat tails and our cat ears. Ava had decided she would go as a panther, Tristan was an orange alley cat, and I was a white Siberian cat.

The night of the dinner party came, and we dressed on Love and Luck with nail polish for claws and sharpies for whiskers and noses. Sally was the first to be dressed as a cheetah, followed by Lucy as a black cat and Heidi as the Pink Panther.

When everyone had been properly prepared, we took pictures, posing in many, lithe catlike poses. After we completed the picture taking; everyone was satisfied with the amount of pictures of themselves that were taken, we moved onto dinner, and then a movie.

As the movie ended, the last thing we talked about was who had the best costumes for each of the three dinner parties so far, and we had reached a decision with; Tristan winning the Descendants party as Harry Hook, Sally and Ava tying for the win in the celebrities party as Ariana Grande and Avril Lavigne respectively and finally with me and Lucy tying for the win of the cat party.

Pandemic Pandemonium

written by Ava Deeley

I need to start by saying a big thank you to Heidi Vannini for letting us use her fantastic photos.

Staying on the boat for months on end during COVID-19 can range from endlessly tiring to completely and utterly boring and sometimes so upsetting you can break down crying for an hour or two. Luckily, with the help from our good friends on Love and Luck and Arena, they’ve managed to make this year pretty awesome.

We often got bored with the same day-to-day activities; school, swimming, playing board games, so we decided to create some pretty cool ideas.

Months ago, Tristan and I had a wonderful idea to coordinate themed days of the week, for example Fancy Friday, where we put our British on and dress formally. Though we only did two days of the week, we managed to get everyone (minus Max) to participate on Wednesday. We called it Wacky Wednesday, or Weird Wednesday, whichever you preferred.

Everyone dressed up in the craziest combination of clothes, did their hair in the weirdest style and slipped their funny earrings on.

Honestly, I felt underdressed.

In Refugio, at one of the beaches, Love and Luck had the idea of going camping. So we did. I have to admit I was nervous, what with snakes and scorpions.

We had two tents, one for the four of us girls and one for the boys. We brought some brownies, and they brought cookies, and we snacked, laughed and sang around the campfire. Eventually it came to the time when we had to put the fire out and Heidi, Sally and Tristan went looking for a water source to drown the fire.

After about ten minutes and one snake they eventually came back, and we washed our dirty feet (really, they were disgusting) and climbed in the biggest tent where the six of us then played games for the next hour or two.

The boys retreated to their tent and the rest of us quickly ran out with a few torches to go to the bathroom. It was slightly unnerving to pee in the bushes when you’re worried a snake’s going to jump out at you, but I was alright because my sisters were there, singing loudly in the dark of night.

We stayed up late whispering and giggling to each other, tucked under blankets. I’m positive we woke the boys up multiple times because we were laughing so much.

In the morning Heidi started to make a fire with the help of Sally, and we crowded around it making small talk as we began to slowly wake up from our drowsiness. It was an awesome night with my awesome fam.

Since arriving in La Gringa, Love and Luck and us have had Friday night dinner parties. We dress up to a particular theme and eat dinner together, play games based on the theme and role-play as the characters we’ve chosen.

The first dinner was based on a movie trilogy called Descendants, by Disney. I was Audrey (the daughter of Aurora), Max was Gil (the son of Gaston), Tristan was Harry (the son of Hook), Heidi was Jane (the daughter of Cinderella’s fairy godmother), Sally was Mal (the daughter of Maleficent) and Lucy was Dizzy (the daughter of Drizella). 

The second dinner party was my favourite, a celebrity dinner party. Heidi was Taylor Swift, Tristan was HRVY, Max was Harry Styles, I was Avril Lavigne, Lucy was Katy Perry and Sally was Ariana Grande. A lot of makeup was involved.

Dinner parties haven’t been the only thing that’s new. We’ve been creating music videos, dances, plays, participated in beach clean-ups, and taken underwater pictures while snorkelling!

These friends have made this pandemic more bearable and I’m so lucky to have them all in my life; I wouldn’t trade them for the world!

Animas Slot – 2/9/2020

We anchored in the small inlet, ‘Animas Slot’ and decided to go for a snorkel around the rocky island located in the northern part of the bay.  There were lots of delighted exclamations from Andrew, ‘Its so big’, ‘there are so many big ones’, I’ve never seen so many before’ in relation to the hundreds of coral trout (grouper) that we snorkelled over.  While Andrew took imaginary shots at all the fish, I delighted over the two large turtles I saw, a black one and I have no idea what the other one was, both very large, but neither hung around long.

When we got back to the boat Tristan went with the Love and Luck girls to snorkel the same area and he too came back very excited over the sheer number and size of grouper.

In the late afternoon while Andrew and Tristan went trolling for fish, I decided to see if I could find a path up to the ridge on the southern end of the bay.  It was a bit of a steep, slippery path, dotted with lots of coyote droppings, but I was rewarded with a wonderful view over the bay.  Turns out if I had looked at the guidebook, I would have known exactly where the path was and that it continued to the neighbouring bay.

I walked down to the northern end of the beach and around the headland as it was low tide. Ah what I hate are those creepy roach like bugs that scatter as you walk over the rocks, they give me the heebie jeebies, and they were everywhere. Andrew and Tristan picked me up and on returning to the boat we spotted a coyote on shore; we went in the dinghy to have a closer look, but it quickly scurried away.

Isla San Marcos – August

We spent most of August anchored at either Sweet Pea Cove or at Caleta de los Arcos.  Although we did make three trips to Santa Rosalia to reprovision, which was our first time inside a supermarket since the beginning of April.  While there looked to be a few hikes on the island, we spent most of our time here trying to do 6 weeks of school in 3 weeks, so that we could head north and not need internet, needless to say, Max and Ava were extremely busy.

One of the many sea caves on the left on the right is the beach entrance for the hike up to the cross on the hill on the left-hand side.

On our first snorkelling trip we found a sea cave with its own skylight, resident stingray and beach complete with a chair.  We later saw local pangas (boats) using the cave for a bonfire.

The largest cave in the area complete with its own beach and skylight.

We did spend a second day snorkelling to explore other caves.  One of the caves had a current running through it which would take you from the entrance through the cave to the exit.  Some caves were large enough that you could dinghy or kayak through.  There was one small cave which had an abundance of bait fish and with the light shining through them it looked magical.

The area surrounding the caves is home to many stingrays, starfish and stonefish. 

You really don’t want to step on any of these guys!

Andrew and Tristan amused themselves with spearfishing.  One day Andrew tried to befriend a pelican sitting on our dinghy and even named him Mr Percival. (if your Australian you may remember the book ‘Storm Boy’ who had a Pelican called Mr Percival)

While most of our time was spent on school, we did celebrate a few birthdays, the kids put on a play on Love and Luck one evening and marshmallows were toasted onshore on another.  We were all sad to say goodbye to Arena, who are off to San Carlos for a month or so to do some boat repairs.

Isla Granito Sea Lions – Refugio

13/9/2020

We anchored near the southern end of Isla Granito while Love and Luck dinghied over, so we could snorkel with the Refugio sea lions.  I’ve got to say the water wasn’t particularly clear and lots of stuff, maybe sea lion excrement was floating through it.  The smell was nauseating, turns out the cause was a couple of dead sea lions decaying on the island.  We did snorkel with the mainly male populations, but there was an edginess to the feel of the snorkel that we haven’t felt elsewhere, perhaps the abundance of males.  The water was so murky that you didn’t see the sea lions until they were really close.

Max didn’t want to get in and went back to the boat while we continued around the island.  Every 10 meters of so around the island we saw small family groups of sea lions with a male or two and several females. We didn’t swim with them but did watch their antics.

When we got to a small bay on the northern end of the island, we discovered many females and juveniles with 4 or so males.  These guys were curious and swam out to see what we were doing.  We decided to snorkel with them.  After a while they came closer to us for a look.

Aren’t these two cute? They soon joined us when we went snorkelling.

They look so zen don’t they?

What was funny was every time you turned to swim back to the dinghy, they would follow you and you would turn around and they would freeze before scattering, it was like the game, ’What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’  They were a little like meercats or prairie dogs and they would pop their heads above the water to see what you were doing.

Ava snorkelled with the sea lions and they followed her back to the dinghy.

We had read that sea lions are more interactive if you tumble, dive and mess around in the water. Ava tested this theory, unsure if it worked but they definitely watched with interest.

We continued around to the western side of the island where we found the youngsters who provided great entertainment.  The big male bull would swim around barking and the youngsters would scatter until he turned his back and then come back to the rock in front of us to watch us.  They are like puppies or young kids, two of them had a piece of rope that they kept playing tug a war with or wrapping around themselves, while the mothers napped, perhaps enjoying the peace from these mischievous pups.

These guys had a piece of rope that they were playing tug a war with and then wrapped it around themselves, they reminded me of kids playing with the paper from their Christmas presents.

We followed the noise of what sounded like a combination of a lamb bleating and a kitten meowing to find a baby sea lion calling to its mother for food.  She reclined back and let him feed while ignoring the cacophony of noise from the colony.

This baby made quite a fuss until mum gave in and fed him/her

14/9/2020

After our experience yesterday I was keen to go back and swim with the sea lions in the northern anchorage, this time with some battery on the underwater camera.  Andrew, Ava and I set off to meet Love and Luck in the northern anchorage.  The water was clear, and the sea lions entered the water and swam out near the dinghies while we donned our snorkel.

The northern beach on Isla Granito, where the ratio of males to females was much lower.

Love and Luck went to the colony on the south end of the bay to start with and we went to the north end.  A male occasionally came up and barked at the girls/juveniles if they came too close to us or maybe just to express his dominance.  We got quite close and there was one particularly beautiful grey sea lion who would either stand on her tail or lie on the sand and let us get quite close to her, probably within 30 cm.  She was very photogenic with her long eyelashes accentuating her big eyes and thick black whiskers.

Isn’t she beautiful?

Another day, another video of sea lions.

 Like yesterday as soon as you turned your back or started swimming off, they would all follow you and you would turn around to 20 or 30 sea lions staring at you.

My second favourite sea lion the brown one who was also quite calm and inquisitive.

We went back to the baby anchorage again.  The two particularly charismatic pups that had been playing with the rope yesterday were there in true rebellious form again, playing with the remains of the same piece of rope and briefly scattering when the male appeared.  I had bought a ball with me convinced that they would be interested.  They poked their noses at it a few times, but they seemed more interested in watching us or showing off with the rope.

These guys are definitely mischievous and seem to have no problem finding trouble while looking innocent, somewhat like children.

Andrew was rather insistent that we collect the ball and not leave rubbish, particularly as the kids had done a beach clean up the day before with Love and Luck.  Unfortunately, the big male was not impressed with Andrew’s decision to get closer to get the ball and charged, I jumped across the dinghy onto Andrew’s feet to avoid any chance of him taking a bite out of my ass, which provided much entertainment for everyone.

 As we left to return to our boat there was one very sizeable male sitting alone on a rock.  He was also sporting a very large gouge in his side, maybe he had once been the dominant male and was now on his own.  It was a bit sad to see the lone male, but he did sit up and bark as we passed by.

I’m glad we didn’t swim with this guy, he is enormous!

There are definitely not only grouper abound, but big ones too around Refugio, so much so that Tristan and Andrew had a limit of one each per day. So they had to choose carefully. Tristan has admired the golden grouper and caught a few smaller ones in the past, but his prize catch is the one in the photo below.

Refugio is situated on the northern tip of Isla Angel de la Guarda. Sunsets and sunrises (not that I saw any) transform the colourless mountainous landscape to one with a wide spectrum of colours with varying shades of reds, browns, pinks and even mauve.

The kids kept busy snorkelling, camping on shore, beach cleanups and had another quaran-themed dinner, the theme was ‘cats’ onboard Love and Luck.

It was too hot to venture too far into the interior of the island but we did explore some of the wind and wave worn rock formations.

Playa Coyote – July

Our second last day in the Bay of Conception we went to Playa Coyote to shop at the tienda.  While the tienda is very small and has limited supplies, they can get you things if you request it and we were able to order a few things and collected them the following morning after our walk.

Andrew and I went for an early morning walk before the temperatures reached 40 degrees along a private road in the northern part of coyote bay. After passing a couple of homes a small path branched off which we followed as it snaked up the hill offering fantastic views over Playa el Burro.  The path continues to the point and loops around so you can then see a full view of Playa Coyote.

A map for the walk is shown on the map below:

Wahoo Whale Sharks

First Encounter with Mexican Whale Sharks! – 4/9/2020

Whale sharks are both the largest fish and shark in the world. Whale sharks are filter feeders and they have no teeth, meaning they can’t eat you. That being said, their size is intimidating; they are ordinarily between 5.5 and 10 meters in length, though the largest recorded specimen was over 18 metres. One thing at odds with its size are its eyes, which are remarkably small. Whale sharks are known to spend from June to September in the Bay of LA area and can sometimes be seen as late as December. The whale sharks then migrate south to the La Paz area, where they stay until spring. Why do they spend so much time in this area? Apparently the water is nutrient-rich, due to upwellings caused by the coastline shape, currents and wind patterns in the area. Even if you don’t have your own boat you can visit the area and snorkel with one of the reputable tour boats that operate in the area.

Our first stop in the Bay of LA was at the northern anchorage, La Gringa, a popular spot for camping, fishing and spotting whale sharks. We headed there primarily because we had heard there had been whale sharks hanging around that area of the bay in the past few days.

La Gringa Anchorage

After anchoring in La Gringa, Andrew went off to talk to some of the other kid boats in the anchorage to find out where they had seen the whale sharks.  It turns out they had been swimming among the boats the previous few days. When Andrew returned, he spotted one in the distance, so he and I gathered our gear and went in search of them.  When we got close to one, I put on my gear, jumped in and holy crap, they are huge; you can’t help feeling intimidated even though you know they aren’t going to eat you, because they are ENORMOUS!!!!

One of the whale sharks feeding, you can see the white dots of plankton flowing into its mouth.

We repeated this a few times where we would spot one, drive near it and jump in as it passed by.  We decided to go back and get the kids and tell Love and Luck.  It took us a while to spot one and when we did our three teens put on their masks and jumped in; Tristan eagerly swam very close to it.  The first one they swam with was juvenile and curious.  He came back a couple of times for a look. 

Tristan, Max and Ava snorkelling with whale sharks

We continued to spot different whale sharks and the kids would jump in and swim with them.  I think what we learned today was that it is better if you find one to stay put and let them come back to you rather than jumping back in the dinghy and driving over to them.

Whale Sharks – 5/9/2020

A whale shark with remora attached to its head.

You may be wondering what all the little fish are that are attached to the whale sharks; these are called remora or suckerfish. They actually have a sucker pad on the top of their head, which looks a bit like the bottom of a sneaker, but is is actually a dorsal fin that allows them to stick to the whale shark. They are found on sharks, whales, manta rays, dolphins and turtles. Remoras eat dead skin, scales, faecal matter and parasites from their host. In fact, scientists are studying the remora’s sucker pad to develop new adhesive-free attachment methods.

After an uneventful morning, Andrew suggested I have a look from the boat for any whale sharks to which I scoffed I’m not going to be able to see them from the boat.  I glanced around and happened to look between the back of the boat and the shore and there was a whale shark.  I eagerly raced downstairs to change into swimmers, and Tristan and I grabbed our snorkels and fins. 

It was a juvenile whale shark and as it passed us it would turn its head to look at us.  It did a lap and came back around for another look.  Meanwhile, the mum snuck upon us and it wasn’t until she was nearly upon us with her big mouth looming that we noticed, there may have been a bit of squealing through the snorkel, by me.

The photo of Tristan snorkelling with a juvenile whale shark kind of gives you an idea of their size.

Ava joined us and kept asking “where is the shark?”, but it was right behind her and soon gave her a start.  Both Tristan and Ava swam along with the pair for some time watching them feed.

Julie had heard about the lazy river at the end of the La Gringa point where, at the change of tides, the water flows through a narrow lagoon and out along the beach.  The water level and flow are at their peak when it’s a full moon, which had been a couple of days earlier.  We packed up the dingy with shoes, noodles and towed Max and Ava’s surfboards (Max attached to his) behind us.  Max had a smile on his face and seemed to enjoy being towed behind.

We headed over to where the other dinghies were gearing up with their various floatation devices for the late afternoon event.  After anchoring and grabbing our noodles and Max and Ava with their surfboards we waded through the knee-deep water to where the current flowed and lazed in the water as it slowly carried us along.  A fellow cruiser gave a shout after being pinched by a crab and there was the occasional bump from a large rock when the water was just too shallow to pass over it easily.   A great time to catch up with friends, while watching different birds as we passed by.

We packed up an hour or so later after two rides on the river and towed both Max and Ava grinning behind on their surfboards.

lots More Whale Sharks!!! – 6/9/2020

After a huge cooked brunch for Father’s Day and a short nap, Andrew and I decided it was time to look for some whale sharks and there was one nearby.  The kids from both boats had swam over to it, Mark kayaked over and Andrew and I joined with our dinghy.  We were soon joined by another baby and its mum and all oohed and aahed over these gentle giants.

Look at those lips!

Throughout the chaos of 5 teens and 4 adults, one brown booby swam between the chatting teens without a care in the world.  It seemed completely unbothered about the splashing whale sharks or giggling kids, and it was only when Ava reached out to pat it that it finally decided to fly off.

Crazy booby

Eventually the whale sharks moved off and the kids swam back to the boats while the adults followed the sharks to their new feeding grounds.  We were so glad we followed as they were so interactive and stayed between the dinghy and kayak for at least 30 minutes, swimming between us while tilting their heads to look at you.  I photographed from the dinghy for a while before joining the others in the water.

In my efforts to get a photo of one eating, it turned to look at me and I ended up floating on top of its head with lots of squealing and “oh shit!” repeated several times; I was trying to keep very, very still, not to disturb it. It was over within seconds and I was deposited on its other side at eye level with another very large whale shark.  I think we were both shocked to be at eye level with each other and I found myself swept up on top of its head, too, all the while videoing my hands and fins as I tumbled around. I could hear the others laughing their heads off and was told later that it was very funny. 

These playful creatures would swim right up to our motionless dinghy and then circle it, watching you.  Sometimes they would swim under you, lifting the dinghy slightly as they went.

It was amazing!!!!!!!

We finished off the day by the five of us and all of Love and Luck by going on the Lazy River swim.  There was quite a large group of other cruising kid boats setting up dinner and a swim.  Tristan had decided to not come yesterday and seemed to enjoy all the shrimp that were swimming in the lagoon while Sally and Ava found a whole pile of snails and Julie and I managed to get a few scrapes from the rocks and oysters as we passed over them.  It was good to catch up with a few boats we haven’t seen for a while and cool off from the heat at La Gringa.

The Bay of LA has fewer than 3000 residents, but it does have a really well stocked supermarket called La Isla with fresh fruit and vegetables stored in fridges, drinks and alcohol and pretty much anything else you might need, including some things we couldn’t find in Santa Rosalia. The supermarket get its fresh produce on a Friday and it starts to make its way onto the shelves on Saturday, although each day more is added from the cold storage out back and we found that even on a Wednesday we were able to get fresh lettuce. You will pay a bit more than you would at a larger town like Penasco or Santa Rosalia, but you are in a desert. The store also sells internet for 20 pesos for one hour and you can sit outside and use it.

Underwater in the Desert

Tristan here! It’s been just about 5 months for me here in Mexico since I came to visit (and then was locked down with all the covid madness), and in this downtime there have been many opportunities for amazing snorkelling, even just over seaweed, sand and rocks. Combining this luxury (there’s not been much snorkelling for me back in Australia in the last year and a half) with a newfound interest in photography has yielded some pretty neat results. Mum, Max and I have been doing a National Geographic photography course on Love and Luck with my good bud Heidi, and ever since Mum told me I could use her underwater camera while I was on the boat I’ve been taking photos of fish, rays, crabs and shrimp almost every day. Figured I’d share a few up here to see.

 

Two varieties of Mexican Barnacle Blennies

 

The Barnacle Blennies are definitely a favourite of mine, because they are so small (their heads are about half the length of my pinky nail) and yet so aggressive, peering right out at the camera from the mollusc tubes they’ve claimed.

Another classic in the Sea of Cortez would be the mobula rays, as well as the regular stingrays as well, who always find some new way to show off for the camera.

 

P6180334  P6180332P6150276

These two mobula rays were more than happy to put on a show, though the regular stingrays have their own kind of charm.

 

Hermit crabs and shrimp are pretty easy to find in the shallows, and if you’re patient enough (and can hold your breath) they will come right up to the camera and have a look around; a couple that were a little more shy would be the Panamic Arrow crab, which waved its disproportionately long claws every time I got near, and the nudibranch which hid, almost invisible, in the weed upon the rocks.

 

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Hermit and arrow crabs, Mexican Dancer Nudibranchs and small shrimp make up just a few of Baja’s many colourful and exciting crustaceans and molluscs.

25-05-2020 - Mexican Dancer Nudibranch 2 20-06-2020 - Panamic Arrow Crab 3

 

Other than that, most of my photography has been largely experimental, finetuning focus settings and exposure for some really microscopic shots. A couple fish underneath that I have yet to identify, but they still held still for a photo anyway. Kudos to them for making it to the blog post.

 

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Tiny fish; their identities still elude me.

 

We are headed back out of internet range soon and hopefully near to another reef; the fish won’t photograph themselves!

-Tristan