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Baja Wanderings II – May 2017 --- “Among the Gentle Giants” --- Search for a Pregnant Whale Shark

July 29, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Common Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippCommon Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Sharks, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

       Part 2 of 2 -- The search for a Pregnant Whale Shark 

                           (A photo blog of our recent Whale Shark Expedition by Bill & Linda Klipp)        

Among the dozen or so places on the planet where Whale Sharks aggregate the Sea of Cortez is one of the few places you can find not only adult females but sometimes pregnant ones. Our hope on this trip is to both find and closely examine a pregnant Whale Shark and for this we had the help of an ultra-light aircraft for aerial reconnaissance. When not searching for or swimming with the Whale Sharks we were able to do a lot of snorkeling and exploring the Baja.

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp
          

   Whale Shark Reproduction

  There is very little known about the reproductive cycle of Whale Sharks and the Expedition’s main objective was research on pregnant Whale Sharks. Almost all known info on reproduction is based on one pregnant Whale Shark captured by fisherman near Taiwan in 1995. Scientists discovered 300+ embryos in her uterus, ranging from embryos in egg cases 16 inches long to 2-foot long embryos without egg cases, living freely in the womb. It was reported that while she was being towed to shore she aborted dozens more embryos, so she actually had a lot more than 300 at one time. Several dozen embryos were frozen for future research and twenty plus years later one of the scientists on our trip had the opportunity to DNA test the samples. What she found was regardless of size / age they all had the same father. It is speculated that once impregnated a Whale Shark maybe giving birth almost continuously as she travels the oceans.

Whale Sharks, La Paz Bay, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Sharks, La Paz Bay, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Sharks, La Paz Bay, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

        There are only a handful of places on the planet where pregnant Whale Sharks congregate and the Sea of Cortez is one of them.  But with over 68,000 square miles of ocean to search the task of finding one is not trivial. So on this trip we had the benefit of an ultra-light aircraft to search the seas and radio back locations to the ship.

 

        Our eye in the sky does a fly by to check the water landing conditions

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

        We needed a calm windless day so the ultra-light could land and take-off near the ship

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

         Waiting to hook up with the ultra-light, perfect conditions!

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

            Our aerial reconnaissance coming in for a water landing

 

            Linda had the opportunity to spend some time in the air searching for these giant fish. Unfortunately, I was over the max weight limit for the ultra-light flight, time to diet.

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

           Good Luck Honey

 

          Not a lot of room in this baby, testing her camera with a 80-400mm lens

 

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           Headed out for another run

 

                          Click above photo for a short Ultra-light video:

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

        Once a pregnant Whale Shark is found the location is radioed back to the boat and off we went in the pangas

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

        In addition to the usual data collection activities like; measuring, biopsies and taking photo ids the main event this time is to attempt to do an underwater ultrasound on a pregnant female Whale Shark. This will be by far a scientific first.

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

        Full dive gear will be needed for this

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

 

               Click above photo for a Panga II Time Lapse video : 

          Swimming with the Sharks required a lot of in and out of the boat 

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

    It will take two divers to handle the equipment and perform the ultrasound

 

Common Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippCommon Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Sharks, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

         A large 30+ foot female comes into view

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp

 

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp

 

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All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

        This pregnant female was swimming a little fast making it hard to keep up with her

 

Common Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippCommon Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Sharks, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

       The good and the bad. Due to the high level of plankton in the water, visibility was not very good but that’s what attracts the Whale Sharks to this area

 

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Photos by Linda Klipp

       Sometimes you couldn't see the Shark until you were almost right on top of her. A very wide angle lens is a must since the fish are so large, 20-40 feet long

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp

           Notice the small eye

 

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           Notice the swollen belly of this pregnant giant

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp

 

         

         Click above photo for Linda's Snorkeling with Whale Sharks video :

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

         Dr. Deni Ramirez Macias proudly displaying her one of a kind custom made underwater ultrasound machine. We got close but unfortunately, we were not able to complete an ultrasound as the Sharks were swimming too fast. The group though was elated and learned a lot about proper technique and can’t wait to come back and try again

 

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        Aerial view of the Baja

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
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         Small pod of Common Dolphins 

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp

          Los Islotes from the air

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

     One of our favorite spots in the Baja is the small islet of Los Islotes known for its California Sea Lion and nesting bird colonies with a large variety of birds such as Boobies, Gulls, Herons and Falcons to name a few

 

 

           

     

Los Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp, Baja Photos by Bill KlippLos Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp, Baja Photos by Bill KlippLos Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

           California Sea Lions

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
Photos by Linda Klipp

           Los Islotes is a very popular snorkel spot with day trip boats from La Paz

 

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        Snorkeling with Sea Lions is a very special experience

 

Los Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp, Baja Photos by Bill KlippLos Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp, Baja Photos by Bill KlippLos Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

       Adolescent Sea Lions can be very curious and playful, sometimes climbing on your back or even nibbling at your flippers or snorkel

 

                           Click above photo for a short Los Islotes Sea Lion video:

 

 

Underwater, Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja Photos by Bill KlippUnderwater, Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja Photos by Bill KlippUnderwater, Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

              Snorkeling near Isla Espiritu Santo 

 

 

Los Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp, Baja Photos by Bill KlippLos Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp, Baja Photos by Bill KlippLos Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

 

       Cave snorkeling near Isla Espiritu Santo 

 

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           Stingray

 

Whale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Shark Research, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

          Snorkeling near Isla Espiritu Santo 

 

Estancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippEstancia la Ernestina, Photos by Linda KlippAll photos © Linda Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only.
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            Moorish Idol Angelfish

 

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      Wrasses

   

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Photos by Linda Klipp

       Crown of Thorns Sea Star

 

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       Trumpet Fish

 

                          Click above photo for a short Underwater Snorkeling video:

 

Bill_Klipp__www.wkimages.net

      At night we would put out lights to attract little sea creatures such as plankton, squid, fish and other creatures which we would scoop up in a plankton net. Notice the baby Flying Fish

 

         Pulling in a load of Plankton, baby fish, fish eggs, worms, copepods, crab larva, krill etc. It's amazing how much life a cup of seawater contains.

      All ready to see what we got

 

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All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

         Dave goes in for a closer look at what we found

     

          After checking out some of the samples, we got to see what ends up in a swallow of sea water, yuck!         

 

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       We also snagged some baby Flying Fish, very cool! 

 

 

      Never a dull moment, if we weren't out in the field we were treated to a series of scientific and photography presentations

 

Common Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippCommon Dolphins, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill KlippWhale Sharks, Sea of Cortez, Baja Photos by Bill Klipp

All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

      Busy working on editing photos

 

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All photos © Bill Klipp, not for Commercial Use of any type, for personal use only with written permission of the photographer.

        While the MV Adventure is an excellent ship for this type of expedition the cabins are a bit cozy, Luckily we got a quad with extra space for all our photo equipment

 

  

           Overall an amazing trip with a great group of people

 

     Our route for the week

 

PS: In case you missed Part 1 of our Baja Wanderings Blog:

Baja Wanderings I –  “Among the Gentle Giants” --- A Whale Shark Adventure": 

http://billklipp.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/baja-wanderings-1-whale-shark-adventure

       For more info:

       Panterra Eco Expeditions visit: http;//www.Panterra.com

       Whale Shark Mexico: http://www.whalesharkmexico.com/

 

 

For more photos visit Bill & Linda's photography website:  http://www.WildlifePhotos.me

© Bill & Linda Klipp 2017, additional photos provided by, David Valencia, Lela Sankeralli, Jennifer Schmidt, and other trip participants

Check out my online Photo Website at: http://www.wkimages.net

http://www.videos.wkimages.net /  All Rights Reserved Bill & Linda Klipp


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