Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN-SPR 2018

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 55 of 83

56 | A gray whale rolls onto its side for a better look. It's hard to deny the recognition taking place in another intelligent animal when a whale looks at you from this distance. Swimming with whales is always such an incredible experience. One time, when I was headed to a nearby island in the southern Sea of Cortez, we noticed that there was a tremendous amount of feeding activity happening and there were lots of whales in the area. I haven't had a lot of luck just coming up on whales in the boat and jumping in to swim with them in areas where they're not accustomed to people: and I can't say that I recommend people do that—for the whale's safety or their own—but I jumped in just to get a sense of what was happening. Following feeding action like that with a boat always leaves you two steps behind, and so I just got in the water and had the boat back off and leave me there to see what might come around. There was so much activity in the area, and it wouldn't be long before I saw birds headed my way. Under the surface, the first thing I would usually see was a big school of jacks leading the charge. Right behind them would come the mobula rays, and when that happened, I knew there was likely a whale nearby as well. It was difficult because you're swimming hard to try to follow or just get a little closer to the animals and so you're always out of breath and it's hard to dive very deep. The water is absolutely full of krill and when you look into the light, the backlit krill are like a wall and you can't see anything at all. When you look down the light rays are just dizzying in the deep water and it's hard not to get a sense of vertigo bobbing around out there. At one point an open-mouth humpback emerged out of nowhere. It saw me and slapped its tail in a sharp turn, veering away from me. I figured that I had startled it, but I turned around, and out of the light rays emerged an adult fin whale and her calf just moving through like a train about 30 feet below me. Just so special. Eventually though, I realized that it wasn't a great idea to be a slow, awkward monkey floating around in all of that commotion like that. All of the other creatures could easily get out of the way of the feeding whales and there was too much motion in the water and bubbles and fish scales and krill and light for the whales or I to really keep track of each other. So I got out and flew my drone and got some amazing aerial images as well. SWIMMING WITH WHALES By Colin Ruggiero

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