Sunday, February 26, 2012

Guide Report: Feb. 21-25

Trip Report: February 21-25
Campo Cortez
By:  Maria Aguilar Murillo


Semana del 21 al 25 de febrero:

Dolphins Playing with the Whales
Este grupo tuvo mucha suerte! No tuvieron casi nada de viento en los cuatro dias aqui. Tmabien mucha suerte con los apareamientos, tuvimos muchos y bastante cerca y uno que otro delfin que se acerco a la embarcacion para endulzarnos el dia. Hubo pocas mamas con crias pero al final se dejaron ver, tocar hubo quienes hasta pudieron besarla. Algunos de los clientes disfrutaron de paseos en Kayak y caminata en el bajamar, buscando pulpos, almejas y cayos de hacha.


Week of 21-25 of February:

This group had good luck! They had almost nothing of wind in the four days here. Also, they had good luck with viewing mating, we had many and quite close and also a dolphin that approached the boat to sweeten the day to us. There were few mothers with calves, but in the end did get to see them and play with them. there were those who were able to kiss her. Some of the guests enjoyed kayaking and hiking at the low tide, looking for octopuses, clams and callo de ahca (razor scallops).

Gray Whales Mating
Pink Floyd-Male Gray Whale
Grey Whales Approaching Pangas

Low Tide Walk-Octopus & Eggs

Kayaking the Low Tide

Friday, February 24, 2012

Linda & John's 5 day air trip

Linda & John Henry who joined our Feb. 09 air trip were kind enough to share some pictures from their trip to Campo Cortez & San Ignacio Lagoon as well as their comments listed below:

Comments from the Henry's:
Hey guys – we posted our comments on Trip Advisor Reviews but wanted to just pass on a note to you as well.  We miss Maria and Maldo and Chris – and the whales!  Still in the Whale Zone that all you guys put us in, and we’re there happily.  Please pass on our thanks and best wishes to the delightful and exceptional human beings there are the camp.  Those lovely, genuine people are your greatest assets.  Maria’s smile is the brightest light on the planet.

All the best,
Linda & John Henry
Encinitas, CA

Our Aircraft: Cessna Grand Caravan

Cool Cessna Citation took us down to San Ignacio Lagoon from Ensanada. 
It landed in the dirt in the middle of nowhere.  We took a 45-minute bus ride from there to where we stayed.
(We got to Ensanada by bus from a San Diego hotel.)

John & Linda at Airstrip

Our little home away from home for 4 days and nights.  Talk about being on the beach!

Solar Cabins
Out of the Wind

Linda Relaxes in her Cabin
Pretty cozy, huh.

Linda got to spend about an hour with this baby.  He kept coming back for more touches, hugs, and kisses.   Can’t blame the little guy.

Gray Whale Calf
Gray Whale Mother

Little baby and big mama.
Mother & Calf

Linda’s hands, just before she kissed that little baby.
Gray Whale Calf only DAYS Old

Sunrise looking out the door of our hut at low tide…in a few hours, the view changed to high water.  Something accompanied by this scene can’t be duplicated….the tantalizing sounds of countless Brant Geese who winter here and myriad other shore birds all busy having breakfast and talking about it to any who listened.  Magical.

Sunrise in the Lagoon

Gray Whale Census: Feb. 23, 2012

....this is a bumper crop of Gray Whales at San Ignacio Lagoon....

Gray Whale Census from San Ignacio Lagoon
Date of Census:  February 23, 2012

Adult Gray Whales:  242
Gray Whale Calves: 106

Total Gray Whales:  348

.....What can you say?  This is a HUGE number of Grays in the lagoon....this season we are seeing record numbers of whales in all of the lagoons and out in the pacific moving up and down the coast.

Census Report: February 23, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guide Report: Feb. 17-21


Week of 17th to 21st of Feb.

Weather: High's mid 50's to lower 70's

               Lows mid 30's to mid 40's

Our first trip with this group was on the 18th of Feb and it was a great day for observations. There seemed to be a high count of males in the observation area (4 miles in length for viewing out of the 20 miles that make up the Laguna). The males were very interested in the females. Two males will pursue one female all over the laguna until it is time to mate. It seemed that most of the mothers and calves were not present that whole day. On occasion a set of a mother and calve pairs would glide closely by our panga. However, they did not want to play that day. On the 19th, we had success with friendlies!! We had found our dear friend "Valentine" and the mother "Valentina" :) We played all morning with them. You could see the excitement on Valentine's face when he approached the boat with great anticipation. He began spy hopping immediately to see which panga he would go to visit first! With the rules and regulations at the Laguna San Ignacio you can only have two panga per set of friendlies. This helps keep down the overwhelming presence of boats while viewing these gentle giants. Valentine could barely hold back the feeling of excitement. He would cruise right up to the boat then return to Valentina as the he would roll over the fluke (tail) and back of his mother. One observation that I noted right away was that Valentina had Valentine in the "kiddie pool" (what I call it) a few days prior to this day on the 19th. The "kiddie pool" is the area on the southwest side of the laguna which is behind a sand bar with lighter current for new born's to take swimming lessons with their mothers. Then, when the calves are ready, the mothers will bring them out to stronger current and will give them a ride on their backs when they tire out. However, this day on the 19th Valentine was swimming quite well next to his mother out towards the mouth of the laguna! Ah, they grow up so quick :)

Due to low tides in the afternoons we would spend some time walking and exploring the bare laguna floor. In these low tidal hikes we would find scallops, clams, oysters, hermit crabs and even an occasional octopus!! Along with various other sea stars and plant life. We had high winds blowing in about a steady 15 to 18 mph with gusts up to mid 20's. We are very flexible about waiting out some of the stronger winds to help create a more enjoyable viewing experience. When tides are high, we love exploring through the mangroves in search for tricolor herons, marble godwits, white ibis, spotted sandpipers and SOOO many other beautiful birds by panga. Once again, a trip that I will always remember!!
All the best,

Christopher Match

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mangove Transplants

Mangrove Transplant Project: Laguna San Ingnacio, 2012

This is a recent project that we at Campo Cortez have been taking part in in order to grow more mangroves in the lagoons due to man-made and natural destruction.

Catalina and Esla, our camp cooks run this project at the camp all year round. The goal is to grow from seeds sixty to seventy thousand red mangroves to be transplanted in the Lagoon region.

Adding Dirt & Seeds to Grow Bags 

Red Mangroves Sprouting

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guide Report: February 13-17, 2012

Report from San Ignacio Lagoon
February 13-17, 2012
Campo Cortez

Week of 13th to 17th of Feb.

Temp.  Highs: Upper 60's to mid 70's
           Lows:  Upper 30's to mid 40's

    We had an amazing time during this week!! We had made friends with a baby we called Valentine and his mother Valentina (whom we found on Valentines Day). We had friendlies circling the panga everyday!!! When you look into the playful eye of the calves (babies), it holds so much joy and tranquility! The guests we had at camp had such joy in there hearts and I believe it really helped to reflect back at
Valentine. We enjoyed star gazing through the early hours after sunset each night. Simply just as amazing as our day whale watching. That was my first trip this season that we touched every single day and
sometimes each session. Correct Whale count to come shortly. We are behind so far, compared to last years numbers. However, the whales are having a blast playing with us and teaching there young the ways of
life :)

Guest Photos-Kayaking

Photos from Alexa Boyes
from our Feb. 9-13 5 day air trip

Some kayaking photos with Guides Chris and Maria

Kayaking the Estero in front of camp

Guests return to base camp

Chris - Camp guide and kayak addict

Singer as well?

Camp guides Chris vs. Maria

Camp Guides

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guide Report: February 9 - 13, 2012

Camp Update & Whale Report 
by Naturalist Christopher Match

Week of Feb 9th to 13th

Whale count 136 on the 9th of Feb

Weather High: Mid 60's to High 70's

             Low: High 30's to Mid 40's

  Well the whales were friendly right off the bat for most of the
group on there first whale watching experience in Laguna San Ignacio.
After having a day of rain and high winds the night before, it simply
cleared out for there morning whale watching. The winds reached as
high as 28 mph at times and barely even a slight loft of air at other

We enjoyed kayaking through the mangrove maze in between whale
watching sessions with the sunshine helping to create a crystal clear
view in the water as herons squawked and searched for food. For not
being able to guarantee a chance to touch the whales. The experience
keeps getting better and better each day.

All the best,

Christopher Match

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gray Whale Census: February 09, 2012

Gray Whale Census
February 09, 2012
San Ignacio Lagoon Gray Whale Census

Adult Gray Whales:  103
Gray Whale Calves:   33
Total Gray Whales:   136

Guide Report: Week of Feb.4-9

Week Feb. 4 to 9th

Weather: Highs with 80's through mid 60's throughout the trip.

               Lows in the upper 30's to mid 40's

We have well over 125 gray whales in the laguna right now and growing!! The "panga" (the motor boats we use for whale watching) at times have been surrounded by whales with the moms and babies circling around as well with bottle-nose dolphin swimming close to the boat. Our group was split into two pangas for a ninety minute whale watching experience that lasts a life time. We had the pleasure of meeting a "friendly" (whales that will swim next to the boat and your able to touch). A mom and baby circled around the panga for quite awhile as we waited with excitement for a chance to maybe touch this beautiful creature of the sea. Once known as the "devil-fish" through the locals years ago. We were shooting photos as fast as we could, in hope to capture this moment in time. Then the mother nudged her baby closer to the panga and became almost at arms reached. The anticipation grew. As we splashed the water and sang at the top of our lungs in hope to convince the whales to come closer. The baby brushed beside the boat as everyone that was close enough reached out there hands and had an opportunity of a life time. Finally!!! We were able to touch the baby whale as the mother swam close by the panga . As we looked into the eye of the baby whale, such joy passed through the entire boat. It was such a tranquil feeling that I know I will never forget. The mother then came close for a back scratch as well. What did it feel like? What was the whole experience like? There's no exact way to express the feeling in words. You will just have to find out for yourself. :)

As we returned to the cabins that make up a beautiful camp called "Cortez" we saw local fisherman searching the laguna floor for fresh scallops, clams and oysters. During the low tide as we entered the cove that is lined with red and white mangroves we saw two coyotes in search for the same food. One coyote was lucky enough to find an eel as the other searched for an octopus to eat. We returned to the camp. As we walked along the endless skyline of white puffy clouds that were held by the busiest sky that I've ever seen only to be greeted by the warm friendly staff that had made margaritas for us!

Definitely an afternoon that will forever live in my mind as a truly remarkable day. The experience awaits for you!!


Christopher Match

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gray Whale Census: February 07, 2012

Ok, we're now about on track for the same counts as last season. But things change in a day when it comes to the whales arriving and leaving the lagoons, but this is still on track for great season and the friendly whales are in force this season. 

Gray Whale Census:  Februrary 07, 2012 : San Ignacio Lagoon
Adult Gray Whales:  87
Gray Whale Calves:  38
Total Gray Whales:   125

Gray Whale Census: January 25, 2012

Here's our second census of the season and once again as you can see the numbers are fantastic for January. This is great for whales, but our human count is down by about 40%.....

Census: Jan. 25, 2012 - San Ignacio Lagoon
Adult Gray Whales:  73
Gray Whale Calves:  41
Total Gray Whales:   114

Gray Whale Census: January 20, 2012

This is the first official census of the 2012 season. And based on the numbers it looks to be one of the BEST seasons for a potentially large migration for this year.....yes i said this last season...but the numbers are up from last year

Census: Jan. 20, 2012 - San Ignacio Lagoon
Adult Gray Whales:  52
Gray Whale Calves: 23
Total Gray Whales:  75

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jan- Feb 2012 6 Day Bus Trip by: Noly Lira

We began in sunny San Diego and soon crossed the border into Tijuana, its name believed to be derived from the Yuman Indians. When translated: it means~ "near the sea." Baja is known for its many hidden treasures. The sandy landscapes of the Vizcaino Desert being one of them. Once we arrived at Campo Cortez, located within the Vizcaino Desert Reserve and Whale Sanctuary, we settled into our assigned cabins and prepared for our first run of the morning, in search of the majestic nomads we traveled so far to see.

Before long, our sharp eyes that had been patiently and very eagerly scanning the horizon in hopes of a glimpse of these graceful traveling giants, were not disappointed. We had what is known as a "friendly" first trip out. Very exciting! Everywhere we looked we could see the whale blows, spy-hopping, breaching, tail sailing, fluking, logging, all known behaviors.

This is early in the season yet. So many in this one lagoon. Just think how many more are still close by and on the way. Many calves in such a close proximity. We were fortunate enough to even witness the mating rituals and bubble blasts - nursing of the "pickles" (nicknames for very new calves). Many with folds and rolled flukes. So new to the lagoons.

The weather was stellar. One day of local fog, that cleared away almost as fast as it came in. The temperatures were comfortable and mild. After a wonderful day on the water, we would meet outside our cabins to star gaze at the glittering sky and discuss the highlights of the day.

We had many other friendly wild life encounters. From the local, shy coyotes to the many migrating shore birds. The incredible amount of migrating birds was breathtaking, such as the Ibis and Brandt Cormorants. Other colorful sea life entertained us. The dolphins loved to bow ride off the wakes of the Panga boats. This dolphin porpoising behavior, coupled with the sea lions, were cause for many smiles. The Gray whales, were clearly not the only travelers passing through the lagoons.

On the way in and out of the Vizcanio Reserve, we have the pleasure of visiting the town of San Ignacio. The historic mission and the cave paintings are available to visit and are a photographers dream. Such detail and history. We were very fortunate to visit Casa Leree.
Its owner, Juanita, is a wonderful lady who has the most meditative garden in the area. She displays local history and local artisan creations that are a must see. Upon arriving and departing, our groups visit the San Ignacio Bed & Breakfast Inn. Terry and Gary Marcer, proprietors of the Inn, prepare fantastic meals and provide a place to rest before our last leg of the trip. Do your self a favor, get a hold Terry's home made jams; she runs out as fast as she makes them.

The lagoons are definitely a place of majestic beauty and grandeur. This special place creates memories that will last a life time. I hope that if you are fortunate enough to experience the magic of these lagoons, when you return to your daily grind you will reflect upon these shared moments and unwind, decompress, and recall the time you spent with the whales!

Until next time,