It’s November and I’m waking up in a small fishing village on Bahia Magdalena. We are about to head 20 miles offshore in search of one of my favorite open ocean encounters—and one of this region’s best kept secrets.
The warm Baja sun is just beginning to creep over the horizon as we finish loading the boat. Our captain, Mele, gives the ok to push off and we are on our way. Mele has an unmatched understanding of these magical waters. He’s a local fisherman that made the switch to working in ecotourism and conservation projects a few years ago. His passion for these waters and their inhabitants is inspiring.
Our journey seaward takes us past Isla de Patos—a small strip of sand home to thousands upon thousands of tightly packed sea birds. Then along the mangroves that play a critical part in making this area so remarkable. As we move further offshore humpback whales are spotted breaching in the distance as they make their annual journey down the coast to Los Cabos. But the whales will have to wait because today we seek something even more extraordinary.
Soon we spot flocks of sea birds flickering on the horizon beckoning us to come closer – a tell-tale sign of the gigantic bait balls we seek. As we draw closer packs of sea lions can be seen lifting their heads from the water to catch quick breaths. I’m always amazed at how far offshore these salty sea dogs can be found looking for a meal. And right now, it’s breakfast time in Baja. From the boat we can already see the ripples created by a huge ball of mackerel frantically zigging and zagging just below the surface as they try to outrun one of the oceans fiercest predators.
Slipping into the water gives you front row seats to one of the most action-packed experiences our oceans have to offer. Imagine over 40 Striped Marlin working together with packs of sea lions corralling their breakfast into a tight ball and pushing it up to the surface. Then one by one they rocket through the bait ball striking and spearing the fish with their sword-like bill.
Without a moment to think they have already welcomed you into the hunt. It’s a heart pounding encounter, yet mesmerizingly beautiful. Thousands upon thousands of shimmering silver fish spiral into shapes reminiscent of liquid metal dancing on a gorgeous deep blue backdrop. All the while a barrage of sword wielding super-fish and the lions of the ocean ignite the waters around you.
Striped Marlin, Kajikia audax, are one of our ocean’s great creations. A super-fish engineered for extreme speed and vast open ocean migrations. They are one of the fastest animals in the ocean and capable of quickly reaching speeds of 80 kmh (50 mph). Striped marlin are a highly adapted apex predator. Their bodies have insets that allow their fins to lay completely flat when tucked in to help eliminate drag.
Marlin can even heat their eyes and brain to help them be able to manage such great speed and agility. Although not the largest species in the billfish family, they can grow nearly 4 meters (12 ft) long and weigh upwards of 190 kgs (450 lbs). Their long bill is covered in millions of rough denticles and is thought to decrease hydrodynamic drag as they slice through the water—in addition to being used for hunting and protection.
However, these beautiful creatures are listed as Near threatened on the IUCN Red List with their populations steadily decreasing. They are the prized subject of many sport fishermen and Los Cabos to the south is considered the sport fishing capital of the world. It hosts one of the largest sport fishing tournaments on earth as well as a big marina packed with sport fishing vessels running charters 365 days per year. It’s estimated that more than 12,000 striped marlin are fished each year just in the waters around Los Cabos.
Because of this Cabo San Lucas based Dive Ninja Expeditions has teamed up with Nakawe Project to integrate a new marlin research & conservation project into their annual marlin expeditions. The new project hopes to help better understand the population in Baja as well as look at the sustainability and impacts of fishing, while taking you to experience this awesome natural event firsthand.
How to Experience it
The season for these incredible striped marlin encounters takes place every autumn along the pacific coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico. The marlin normally begin to start arriving in late September and will stay through December. This means warmer, blue waters and good visibility. You’ll still want to pack a wetsuit, as this is the eastern Pacific, but a 5mm should be good for most. Your nearest major airport will be Los Cabos International, which offers direct flights from many US & Mexican cities.
Getting to the action though can be a bit of an undertaking, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area. There are a few locations where you can get in the water with the marlin, with the nearest one being a couple hours drive from Los Cabos. These are small fishing towns though, most without any proper tourism facilities. However, there are a couple operators that run multi-day trips out to experience the marlin and bait balls.
Dive Ninja Expeditions is one of the few operators that regularly run weekly trips each season. They have been actively working on projects in these areas for a few years that help support the local communities and further ongoing research and conservation efforts. They also work in these areas all year long on different specialized expeditions, so they know the local areas better than most. Whereas all of the other ops usually just pop in for a week or two each year.
Due to the remoteness of these areas, and the speed at which the bait balls are moving, trips are usually more geared to freediving or snorkeling instead of scuba diving. But don’t sweat it because all the action takes place right at the surface. The marlin use the surface as a barrier to push the bait balls against, making them easier to hunt. So, enjoy not having to stress over airline baggage weight restrictions for this one!
Interested in exploring this adventure yourself? Visit the Dive Ninja Expeditions website. Their 2019 striped marlin season kicks off in the next few weeks and their 2020 Striped Marlin Expedition dates go on sale the beginning of October.
For more from Jay Clue and Dive Ninja Expeditions, follow:
Sealife Micro 3.0 Camera and Light Gift Set Popular at DEMA Show
The new Micro 3.0 Underwater Camera & Light Gift Set from Sealife was very well received during the recent DEMA Show in New Orleans. The Set is an ideal item for the 2023 Fall travel and Holiday season.
The camera is the latest and third generation of its popular permanently-sealed Micro camera series. The camera is leak-proof with no O-rings to lube or maintain, so there is never a worry about flooding the camera. Like its forerunners, the Micro 3.0 features an ergonomic, compact design with easy to-use controls and menus. The camera has a 16-megapixel Sony® CMOS image sensor and offers 4K ultra-high-definition video. The camera’s ease of use starts with the three wide Piano key type buttons that are easy to locate and control, even with dive gloves on. The intuitive camera’s Easy Setup feature quickly guides you through the correct settings based on the shooting environment, depth and lighting accessories being used.
For a limited time through SeaLife’s USA dealers, SeaLife is offering the Micro 3.0 Camera & Light Limited Edition Gift Set that will include a Sea Dragon 2000F Photo Video Light.
The complete camera and light set price will be the same price as SeaLife’s Micro 3.0 Camera regular selling price (alone). Availability will be early November through SeaLife’s dealer network and while supplies last.
The camera & light gift set will also be available in other countries; however, prices may vary depending on location.
While the Micro 3.0 takes away the fuss and fiddling with camera controls that plague most underwater cameras, the Micro 3.0 does have an easy option for fine-tuning underwater images with manual white balance adjustments and the ability to capture images in RAW format, for those that want to edit their images later. The built-in wide angle 100° lens allows the diver to get close to the subjects while still keeping everything in the picture. The Micro 3.0 offers WiFi sharing ability, so you can wirelessly preview, download, and share pictures & videos to a smart phone or tablet with the free Micro 3+ app available at Google Play or Apple App stores. The Micro 3.0 “Explorer” Gift Set includes the Micro 3.0 camera, the Sea Dragon 2000F photo/video light, Flex-Connect Micro tray and Grip, light battery & charger, wrist strap, USB adapter, 3’/90cm USB cable, camera pouch & lens cap.
Find out more at www.sealife-cameras.com/micro-3-0-sets.
Dive into Festive Fun With PADI
Marina Scuba School’s Santa Splash Discover Scuba Experience
Join the festive fun at Marina Scuba School’s Santa Splash on the 16th of December in Crosby. While the real Santa may be busy, Marina Scuba School’s staff members will be dressed up in festive attire for a 2-hour DSD with a Christmas twist.
Open to adults, families, and children over the age of 8, this festive dive is jam-packed with Christmas treats.
The festive fun begins at Marina Scuba School, where you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and some delicious Santa snacks. During the 2-hour Discover Scuba Diving session, you’ll have the chance to learn essential skills required for scuba diving, all while searching for some Christmas goodies hidden beneath the surface.
This holly jolly dive experience takes place on the 16th of December in Crosby and only costs £40 per participant.
To book this exciting dive contact the dive centre by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vobster Quay in Bristol is thrilled to announce the return of the Vobster Santas, a spectacular yuletide diving event that promises to make waves for a cause. This festive fun is open to all levels of divers and invites participants to don their Santa gear and dive into the holiday season in style.
Scheduled for the 10th of December, the gates to Vobster Quay will open at 7:30 am, with a comprehensive dive brief at 09:30 am, leading up to a mass dive at 10:00 am. The goal? To surpass the previous record of 185 Santa divers in the water simultaneously, promising a visually spectacular and undoubtedly jolly spectacle.
Vobster Santas isn’t just about the joy of diving; it’s a mission with heart. The event serves as a vital fundraising opportunity for two esteemed charities, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Help for Heroes. Both hold special significance for Vobster Quay, and participants are encouraged to secure sponsorships through JustGiving to support these worthy causes.
Since its inception, Vobster Santas has successfully raised over £40,000 for these charities. This year, the bar is set higher, and Vobster Quay is committed to leading the charge. To kick off the fundraising efforts, Vobster Quay has generously donated £1000 to each charity, igniting the holiday spirit of giving.
For more information, sponsorship opportunities, and to download the event poster, visit: Vobster Quay – VOBSTER SANTAS 2023
Photos: Jason Brown
Blogs2 months ago
Discover Peace and Tranquillity in Egypt’s Eastern Desert and its Amazing Red Sea
News1 month ago
Emperor Echo liveaboard sustains “irreversible damage” in lightning storm at Fury Shoals
Blogs3 months ago
A Flying Visit to Nusa Penida, Bali
Blogs2 weeks ago
My week on Scuba Scene: simply the best Red Sea liveaboard experience
News2 months ago
2023 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition Announced
Marine Life & Conservation2 months ago
Book Review: The Lives of Octopuses and Their Relatives
Blogs1 week ago
Unveiling Indonesia’s Dive Gem: Welcome to Bunaken Oasis, Where Adventure Meets Luxury
Equipment2 months ago
Oceanic+ Now Has Freedive Mode on Apple Watch Ultra