Mobula Ray Expeditions Trip Report, June 2019
Our Ninja instructor Donna guided our two incredible Mobula Ray Expeditions. In this trip report, she tells us about her and the guests experiences.
Our 2 mobula expeditions were based in La Paz, each was 5 days long. And each day, was better than the last! Both expeditions started on consecutive Thursday evenings with a welcome presentation and a short explanation about what we were looking for, Mobula Munkiana. We introduced Marta Palacios, a mobula expert who guided these citizen science expeditions, and made them the most incredible and enriching adventure. Without her guidance and expertise these tours wouldn’t have been half as good.
Black, jumping tortillas
Every day, we had a yummy breakfast at our hotel, right in front of the beach, and got on the boat for our morning tour. Almost every day, the dolphins of La Paz escorted us out of the bay as we made our way towards the east. And almost every day we got to swim with hundreds of Mobula rays! Warm water, sunny skies and black tortillas (mobulas) jumping on the surface, belly flopping and somersaulting all around us. Then we would slip in the water, put our masked faces in and discover there were way more mobulas under the surface than what it seemed like from above. The patch of darkness you could see from the boat turned into a cloud of rays when you looked under the waves, filling the water column from surface to bottom. At first we would swim on the surface to get them used to our presence, then slowly starting to freedive for a closer look. Someone would make a sudden move or get a bit close, and the cloud would scatter and disappear in a split second, only to gather back again once we gave them their space. Sometimes the schools were not so shy and stayed together and even merged with other groups while we swam with them, as if introducing us to the other mobulas in the area. Magnificent!
Amazing wildlife encounters
Some days, we decided to change it up a bit, and went swimming with sea lions. Such a fun animal to see in its natural habitat! So curious and playful, they loved watching and hanging out with us. Along the mesmerizing scenery and bare rock mountains of Espiritu Santo island national park, we encountered not only the lovely sea lions, but many other beautiful and fascinating marine and bird species. One day, we saw a Black marlin hunting right under the surface, leaping out of the water to catch a juicy Mackerel. Another day we followed green turtles in the shallow lagoon as they were grazing on some seaweed. At least 3 different types of dolphins, with their young, popped by to play with our boat – Common, Spotted and Bottlenose dolphins. A couple times we were able to observe them while feeding on a bait ball, with pelicans and frigates circling and hunting from the air, and one funny sea lion who disguised himself as a dolphin among the large pod.
Another big highlight of our trips were the surprising amounts of whales we have sighted, and the surprising number of species of whales we could spot. A small group of Humpback whales was breaching and showing their flukes; a lonely, out of season, Gray whale surfaced a few times in our vicinity; and, most exciting of all, the second largest animal to have ever lived! At least 3 groups of Fin whales were swimming and coming up to breathe all around us. Sometimes so close that we could see and identify them by their distinctive white, lower right lip and by the single ridge on their heads. One became famous amongst us, for her (we decided it was a she) collapsed fin. We encountered her and her family on both expeditions, and decided to name her Fiona :D
A bit of rest
Every day, we had stopped for lunch on a different, wonderful beach. White sands and clear turquoise water, shade, cool drinks and delicious food is all you can ask for after an exciting morning out at sea. One day, we stopped on a beach with a small ship wreck in the shallow clear water, which provides shelter for many species’ juveniles, and excellent snorkeling. Another day, we stopped on a beach with a great salt lake, floated in the warm water and explored the enchanted rock formations and gigantic cactus. Every night we went to another great restaurant and saw a bit of the inspiring and thought provoking murals of La Paz, enjoyed the famous sunsets and cool breeze of the Malecon. Then parted each to their rooms for a good night’s sleep. What can be better?
Surprise and gratitude
The ocean always surprises me. Even though I spend most of my days in it, I still get caught off guard by the amazing encounters and experiences the seas of the world can provide. This was my first experience as an expedition leader, and it is an experience I will never forget! They were days of oceanic magic! I hope I will have the chance to join these expeditions next year, on the 2020 Mobula migration season. These 2 trips were an amazing experience, full of excitement, learning, incredible encounters and a whole lot of fun! Thank you Dive Ninja Expeditions for giving me the opportunity to participate and meet some amazing people. Thank you Marta for teaching us and showing us the magic of the Mobulas, and thank you to everyone who joined us on this wonderful experience! Please contact us if you too would like to enjoy this breathtaking experience.