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Sea of Cortez ~ Nautilus Gallant Lady ~ June 12-19 2021 Trip Report

Reported by: Cindi LaRaia

Sea of Cortez ~ Nautilus Gallant Lady ~ June 12-19 2021 Trip Report

Great fun in the Sea of Cortez!

This is mostly a snorkel trip with some diving! In search of aggregating mobula rays, cow nose rays, hundreds of dolphin pods, bottle nose and common dolphins.

Also possible sightings with Humpback whales Fin whales; chances to see whalesharks, and the very elusive ORCAS!

We left Cabo San Lucas heading up into the Sea of Cortez. We will have 2 days with Aereal support to help us find the wildlife!

The Gallant Lady has a large, rigged hull zodiac with partial cover from which we would spend 8 hours a day in search of wildlife.

We were lucky with one of our guests as a professional wildlife videographer/ photographer who had 2 drones which helped us zone in on the wildlife!

Out first day was a dolphin day! We had many opportunities to jump in and swim madly with and after the different pods of dolphins! Huge pods with sonar, clicking jumping squealing dolphins with babies, are so darn cute. What a workout.

Learned a lot about how best to snorkel sideways to get there as fast as possible. Also fin type is important, free diving fins work best!

Day 2, we had Aerial support, wind came up they had to end the aerial support a bit early. Another big dolphin day with great interaction! No Mobulas spotted as yet.

We had a wonderful scuba dive at Reillina rock. Loaded with fish of all sorts and a big male sea lion!

Day 3, very close to LaPaz! Juan knocks on my door at 7:15am, mobulas jumping all over!! Yahooo!!! Grabbed our stuff and ran onto the zodiac. We all in the water for nearly 1.5 hours before breakfast!

Simply amazing! A beautiful huge school of the smallest species of mobula at least 100 of them! Stunning to see this aggregation as they do their mating dance! Some of our group were beautiful free divers; seeing them glide down amongst them was a site to behold! I must learn how to do this! An excellent start to the day! Everyone was able to get great video and images!

Our first morning we found the mobulas!!

We will meet the ultra-light at 11am.

This was a long wonderful day; full of fun, lots of swimming getting in and out of the rib. After the plane left the drone found us schools of cow nose rays, after several attempts we finally got lucky and able to stay with them and get images! Yay!

Day 4, we started our day with mating turtles and 3 humpback whales. Bonus, we got the spotter plane back, he located a whale shark, yahoo! This was a small juvenile in shallow water near the shore, green water, he was feeding. We all got in with plenty of time in and out of the water. Then low and behold we found another whaleshark near by even smaller, a real baby! I have never seen one this small, they were both feeding. A joyful day.

Then Carlos our bird man (drone flier) located a large Mola Mola the size of our zodiac!! Wow, very exciting, the Mola Mola went down so we chose to stay with the whale sharks.

Cow nose rays are a bit skitterish, not able to get close!

The mobulas start jumping again in the evening as the sun starts to get lower in the sky, about 5:15 is the magic hour. If more than one or 2 start jumping we have a good change to find them in aggregation. Several attempts in and out of the boat we got them, a huge group of the bigger mobulas this time! Whoopy!! So beautiful!

Cow nose rays!

Day 5, early start at 7:30am near LaPaz! The mobulas gather early in the morning and later in the day!

We found a huge school near shore early. This school was massive at least 1000. They started in about 20ft of water, went deeper with free divers then slowly came back up. This school was massive and stayed with us. Making beautiful circles and chasing each other, an amazing sight to behold.

The free divers took peoples cameras down to video this massive aggregation, they said it was like a giant funnel of mobulas. They could not see the bottom of them! WOW!

A stunning morning in the sea of Cortez.

We had heard Orcas were seen the day before near Cabo Pulmo! We met a researcher on the water she verified it and said they were moving north. We decided to skip the dive - pack another lunch and head over 40 miles south in the rib with the Gallant Lady searching further away! We were stoked!

Trying my best to visualize the big Panda dolphins……. Sadly we missed them. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.

It’s all about luck and being in the right place at the right time.

We also saw 2 beautiful striped Marlin at the surface, one was blue, they change color depending on the situation!

Bull sharks in Cabo Pulmo

Day 6, today we made 2 incredible dives at Cabo Pulmo.

Our group had the first dive on the shipwreck with the famous bull sharks. They were awe inspiring. The vis not great, soon as we jumped in we had 2 dark lurking shadows come to escort us down to 45 ft to the shipwreck. They slowly came into sight, beautiful bull sharks!

We had 6 different bull sharks, a big pregnant female, large male and several juveniles. The amount of fish life is mind blowing, literally thousands of yellow snapper surrounding the wreck. Giant groupers that swim with you, a beautiful bright yellow grouper; a ginormous amberjack hunting in this school exploding the fish! Wow! What an amazing dive!

Our second dive was at El Baho de Los Meros. A series of reef fingers with sand in between. Thousands of yellow snapper and yellow pork fish so chill, put me into a state of Zen! I was in a hypnotic state. Lovely small fans and gorgonians. 2 free swimming moray eels, a turtle and a school of cow nose rays to top off this amazing site!

Cabo Pulmo, a tiny village and a 17,571-acre Marine Protected Area (MPA), is one of the most successful national marine parks in the world and arguably offers the best diving and snorkeling in Baja. It’s also home to the only Pacific coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. 10 years of protection has allowed this magnificent Area return to its glory!

This was a simply wonderful snorkel - dive week in the magical waters of the Sea of Cortez!

Thank you Nautilus Gallant Lady and crew for another wonderful holiday!

Cindi LaRaia