After our great trip to Magdalena Bay we backtracked to La Paz. The rough weather had calmed down and the sun was shining. Soon we set out on our trip to Isla Espiritu Santo. The island is commonly visited by tourists who come to enjoy the beaches, the scenery of the island and the sealions of los Islotes. We however were interested in all of the above mentioned things, but were hunting for the jumping Mobulas as well..
We rented our boat from El Tecolote beach. A former fisherman took us out for the day for a cheap price especially when compared to commercial trips from la Paz. Also if you take into account that we had our private boat and would be out on the water for a large part of the day. Another advantage was that we were closer to the island as well. To travel to and from el Tecolote we used our rental car.
Los Islotes is one of the more famous spots in Mexico for snorkeling with Californian sea lions. As a consequence the animals are habituated to people and most have lost their fear of us. The contrast with the behavior of sea lions at Isla Santa Margarita was apparent to us. Both of the populations of sea lions contain highly energetic and playful young sea lion pups, but at Los Islotes they came in a lot more boisterous.
Sandy found out soon though that the sea lions in los Islotes were more "chewy". Sandy got bit by one of the young sea lions in her arm. As she was wearing only her 3mm wetsuit it did hurt as well. It was no more than a playful, but painful bite in her arm. Still none of the sea lions of Isla Santa Margarita had even come close to such a thing.. In the past divers had been harmed by male sea lions, so snorkeling with these animals is not without risk. We did not push it too much on the big males and instead played with the pups.
Some of the pups swam inside the cave of the island and one of them was perched on top of a rock. As I approached it was very curious on what was coming. Intermediately it popped its head in and out of the water trying to make up what I was doing with that big bulky camera apparatus. Soon it was to find out because when the flashes went off it became completely clear. I think it must have seen a few stars afterwards when it left me with a great photo!
When we were outside the cave our captain was suddenly whistling like mad. Dolphins were sighted! As quick as we could we jumped back into the boat and the chase was on. Or actually, the bottlenose dolphins joined us :-). Soon they were bowriding and we slowed down as we'd like to get some in-water shots as well. Skittish as they were though they stayed on the edge of our visibility although we repeatedly could see them and hear their whistles and clicks.
Having had our fill on dolphins we made our way to the other side of the island and cruised towards a place to have our well deserved lunch. Before we reached the beach though we noticed new movement on the surface..
Little white tips broke the surface over a large surface area and now and then a mobula jumped high into the air to splash back into the water soon thereafter. It turned out to be a huge school of mobulas and was exactly what we had been hoping for!
Quickly I grabbed fins and mask and urged the captain to drop us close to the school of fish.
Entering the greenish water made me realise that the vis was not that great until the school came in sight. What an awesome spectacle to see! There must have been 400 of them schooling together close to the surface. Sandy entered the water as well and soon I got some nice shots from her freediving with the animals as well. We could keep close to the rays for about 5 minutes and then they were off into the deep.
As if that was not enough we encountered some more bottlenose dolphins in the shallows which happily accompanied the boat to our private beach where we sat down for lunch. Wicked stuff!
After lunch we made our way back to el Tecolote while we contemplated on what we had seen. It was not a bad day after all with mobula's, sea lions AND bottlenose dolphins! As we stepped off the boat Sandy noticed some cute less "chewy" pups and insisted on taking one with us. Luckily reminding her of Tutta (her cat, which was waiting back home) was enough to leave the pups with their mother in El Tecolote :-).