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  • Play with Gray Whales in Baja California
    words Interacting with the gray whales in their winter calving grounds of Baja California is one of those things that everyone should do First the recovery of the gray whale population in the eastern Pacific is a success story They survived the whaling era and they also survived a plan in the late 1990s to demolish much of their calving grounds for the purpose of making salt yes you read correctly Fortunately good sense and protests prevailed and these days there are something on the order of 20 000 or more of them in the eastern Pacific With the seemingly endless stream of bad news about the environment that dominates the media it s really nice to have the occasional happy ending Baby gray whale with eye closed in sheer pleasure of making contact with an equally delighted tourist Second even for someone like me who has spent hundreds thousands of hours around whales it s amazing how proactively friendly and inquisitive this species can be For example in one instance a female and her calf approached our boat luring all the happy giggly tourists to one side of the vessel leaning over to get a better look The calf approached mom stopped a few metres away She paused with purpose waiting until everyone was lined up on one side of the boat to greet the calf When the moment was ripe mom swished her fluke catapulting a Hokusai like wave of seawater into the air drenching everyone The amused calf and its mom with ridiculously evil sense of humour scuttled off for a wee giggle of their own then pulled the same scam on us twice more before we learned our sopping wet lesson and moved on Stupid humans Greetings gullible humans said the devious baby whale Experience Level

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/gray-whale-encounters-baja-california-mexico-2016 (2016-04-26)
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  • Humpback Whale Encounters | Vava'u, Tonga 2015
    better things to do I of course wish to spend as much quality time with the whales as possible so my mission is to apply 13 seasons of experience to maximise the odds of having positive encounters as well as to interpret and explain what the whales may be doing My trips are for people who want to observe interact with and learn about the whales not just jump in and snap photos at any cost Scenes from the 2014 humpback whale season in Tonga Experience Level These trips are for people who are comfortable being at sea on a boat for around six hours a day The boats I work with are large and comfortable but it s worth keeping in mind that just being on a boat every day and being jostled by waves and wind can be physically challenging The captains that I work with and I will do our best to find whales that are chilled out hanging around for easy encounters without a lot of swimming but whales do whale stuff Meaning that it s not unusual to be in situations that require swimming at the ocean surface with mask snorkel and fins carrying a camera if you have one Also getting in and out of the boat with speed is often essential in these circumstances In other words to get the most out of my trips it s best to be fit The better physical condition you re in the more you ll enjoy the experience Keeping up with whales doing whale stuff is key Reference Links for Background Reading For background information please see the following to my main blog posts from the 2014 season Heading Back to Tonga Humpback Whales in Tonga 2014 Part 1 Humpback Whales in Tonga 2014 Part 2

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/humpback-whales-encounters-vavau-tonga-2015 (2016-04-26)
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  • Blue Whales, Sperm Whales, Cetaceans | Sri Lanka 2015
    ve now spent 82 days on and in Sri Lankan waters Well I m heading back for more in early 2015 to stare out at the blue sometimes green water in search of cetaceans My trips for 2015 are full for the time being but please let me know if you re interested Sometimes people have to cancel for silly reasons like work sheesh and there s always 2016 Friendly female sperm whale Experience Level These trips are for people with experience being on a boat on open water waiting for possible but not guaranteed encounters with elusive cetaceans More importantly this trip is not for impatient people those with unrealistic expectations of guaranteed encounters or people who can t put up with a bit of hardship discomfort My itineraries are for only two people There are a host of reasons for this among the most important being safety too many people in open water at the same time is just asking for an accident and the fact that whales can be fast Really fast Like imagine Wile E Coyote getting smoked by the Road Runner fast Which means many people elevated probability of said people seeing experiencing squat which is not what I m about Cetaceans are also highly intelligent so having successful interaction on a consistent basis means you have to understand their behaviour temperament social activity and mood meaning you need to know what you re doing Pygmy blue whale Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda To date I ve had great encounters with pygmy blue whales Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus Bryde s whales Balaenoptera edeni and even a humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae the only encounter ever recorded in the area I ve also come across several species of dolphins a few turtles many manta rays including

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/blue-whales-sperm-whales-brydes-whales-sri-lanka-2015 (2016-04-26)
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  • Humpback Whales: Vava'u, Tonga 2014
    can help place our experiences within a greater context step back and take a look at the big picture so to speak In other words these trips are for people who want not just to see and photograph whales which is a given but also to learn about them and possibly even help to tease out new information and puzzles from observations and clues we pick up during the season having fun acquiring knowledge One of the very important lessons I ve learned over time is that meaningful encounters happen when whales want them to and only when whales want them to Trying to force whales to do what you want to do is about as productive as trying to control the weather It won t work Period While getting into the water with these magnificent cetaceans is not guaranteed we will enter their environment whenever possible and I will do my best to provide you with background information explanations about what may be taking place and examples of similar and or related behaviour that I may have come across at other times Experience Level We will be on a boat on the water looking for whales for around six hours a day The boats I work with are big with plenty of space including covered areas for keeping stuff and sometimes us dry They are comfortable and more than adequate for the small group size that we will have The captains and guides are among the best in the business It is worth noting however that being at sea even in good conditions on a comfortable vessel can be physically challenging As such you ll get the most out of these trips if You are comfortable at sea You are OK with swimming in open ocean with mask snorkel and fins sometimes you can see the bottom sometimes not and You are physically fit meaning you are reasonably able to get in and out of the water from a boat without assistance These trips are not difficult per se but it is worth bearing in mind that humpback whales visit the waters around Tonga for social reasons meaning they are often busy engaging in whale stuff To get the most out of our time with the whales we have to adapt to their circumstances not the other way around When they are calm and relaxed we will chill with them When they are going about their business we will get in to take a look when the whales are OK with our doing so Female humpback whale with calf and multiple escorts Reference Links for Background Reading Below are links to a few posts from the 2013 season There is a lot of useful text aka Tony babbling in written form and photos so it s worth taking some time to read through if you re considering one of these trips And if you feel like subjecting yourself to even more of my online rambling you can also refer

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/humpback-whales-encounters-vavau-tonga-2014 (2016-04-26)
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  • Diving with Spawning Aggregations in Palau | April 2014
    of gametes into the water at the same time nice easy meal for many predators ranging from obvious ones like sharks to not so obvious ones like other fish species charging in to vacuum up the nutritious egg and sperm soup I know kind of icky but that s what actually happens Blacktip Shark Carcharhinus limbatus rushing in for breakfast Crazy right Events like this must be among the most magnificent spectacles in nature ones that only a handful of people have ever had the opportunity to witness Over the past few years my friends in Palau have worked out the specifics of how when and where to find and dive with spawning aggregations Suffice it to say that it s not as easy as just showing up and jumping into the water The fish require specific conditions which means we have to think like the fish and understand their motivations needs in order to get close or even to witness these events for that matter To date I ve devoted nearly three months to working out how to think like a fish in this regard and my friends in Palau have invested even more toward the same goal In other words we ve worked out the mechanics so you don t have to So if the prospect of being one of the few people ever to have plunged voluntarily into the midst of a massive chaotic spawning frenzy involving thousands of fish going bonkers makes you giddy with glee these trips are for you How s that for a unique sales pitch I m going to be doing three spawning itineraries in April to target Lutjanus bohar Symphorichthys spilurus and Bolbometopon muricatum The specific dates are set out in the Trip Dates section below In addition at the tail end of the trip I m planning to try something I ve been wanting to do for a while in Palau black water diving I m really excited about this Specifically black water diving means heading out to dive at night in open ocean above deep water around 1000m or so with lights hanging off the boat to attract plankton and other stuff that normally stays down deep and only comes up at night I ve allocated two night for this coinciding with the new moon when it ll be dark so our artificial lights won t be competing with the moon for the attention of deepwater critters Not many people have done this in Palau so if you re adventurous and up for a new experience For an idea of what might show up here are some of things my friend Richard has seen since he started doing this the fish are juveniles Cool critters at night black water diving in Palau Experience Level Advanced Experienced divers only For spawning we will be diving in open ocean in potentially chaotic circumstances with low light and consequently low visibility There can be strong currents and everyone s attention will be

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/spawning-aggregations-in-palau-april-2014 (2016-04-26)
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  • Blue Whales, Bryde's Whales, Sperm Whales | Sri Lanka 2014
    I ve now spent a total of nearly two months in Sri Lanka and I absolutely love visiting Most of my time in the country to date has been devoted to looking for cetaceans and other marine life but I ve also had an opportunty to visit a couple of national parks as well as to meet many wonderful people I ll be heading back in 2014 for my fifth visit to Sri Lanka once more primarily in search of encounters with cetaceans though I m also looking forward to the excellent spicy food and to reconnecting with many friends Pygmy blue whale Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda Experience Level These trips are for people with experience being on a boat on open water waiting for possible but not guaranteed encounters with elusive cetaceans More importantly this trip is not for impatient people those with unrealistic expectations of guaranteed encounters or people who can t put up with a bit of hardship discomfort Each itinerary is for only two people There are a host of reasons for this among the most important being safety too many people in open water at the same time is just asking for an accident and the fact that blues and Bryde s whales are fast Really fast Like imagine Wile E Coyote getting smoked by the Road Runner fast Which means many people elevated probability of said people seeing experiencing squat which is not what I m about Cetaceans are also highly intelligent so having successful interaction on a consistent basis means you have to understand their behaviour temperament social activity and mood Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus Anyway to date I ve had luck with pygmy blue whales Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus and Bryde s whales Balaenoptera edeni I ve also come across

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/blue-whales-sperm-whales-brydes-whales-sri-lanka-2014 (2016-04-26)
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  • Explore Palau's Rock Islands by Kayak with Ron Leidich
    my eyes up to a whole world of cool biology ecology and natural history stuff that made me view Palau in a new light I learned a lot and I treasured the experience Many divers visit Palau each year but few have had the opportunity to learn about how intricate the ecosystems are and how critical the health and functionality of the inner waterways are to the vitality of the surrounding coral reefs Ron is the perfect person to highlight and explain stuff like this in intricate detail making everything from pungent mangrove mud to snot like algae sound fascinating Plus the inner waterways and hidden ecosystems are frickin amazing I m particularly excited that we re going to visit Long Lake which in my opinion is one of the most stunning places I ve ever had the privilege of seeing Experience Level We will not be diving just snorkeling so diving considerations are irrelevant unless you re joining me for the bumphead parrotfish and or bohar snapper spawning trips before and after this excursion We will be travelling by kayak You don t have to be in superhuman physical condition to kayak but we will be outdoors and we will be clambering on through and under islands We will spend the nights of 3 4 5 and 6 December camping This means we will not have access to hotel amenities so you ll have to be comfortable being in the great outdoors with tents and catered meals of course Reference Links for Background Reading Exploring Palau by Kayak Trip Dates We ll set off in kayaks the morning of 3 December and get back to Koror the afternoon of 7 December Trip Dates Availability Explore Palau by Kayak Dec 3 Dec 7 Trip Full Post Trip Thoughts Falling in

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/explore-palau-by-kayak-december-2013 (2016-04-26)
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  • Diving with Spawning Aggregations in Palau | December 2013
    and two spot red snappers Lutjanus bohar The experience of being surrounded by thousands of fish in a reproductive frenzy is absolutely sensational arguably among the most amazing spectacles in the ocean We will be staying on land departing very early each morning to the spawning locations and will only return to land after doing three dives each day Nitrox is available if you are Nitrox certified However as it may be necessary to dive deep with the snappers we will not use Nitrox for those dives I have successfully dived with and photographed spawning aggregations of both species and have written extensively about my experiences If you d like to consider joining one or both of these trips please click the Reference Links below for additional information Experience Level Advanced Both trips involve diving in potentially strong current in low light with exposure to open ocean You should be an experienced diver with no problems in such conditions Reference Links for Background Reading Bumphead Parrotfish Spawning Aggregation in Palau Lutjanus bohar Two spot Red Snapper Spawning Aggregation in Palau Diving with Spawning Aggregations in Palau Trip Dates The dates below indicate the period from the first to last date

    Original URL path: http://www.tonywublog.com/trips/detail/spawning-aggregations-in-palau-december-2013 (2016-04-26)
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