Tag: Whale sharks

Whale Sharks

Whale Sharks


One of the most beautiful creatures on the planet, in my opinion, is the whale shark. The patterns of each varies and are infinitely interesting.

Last year I had the opportunity to photograph them on two trips to the Sea of Cortez. The second trip, to the La Paz area, offered more experiences, better water clarity and more animals. But it’s not easy work photographing them.

Snorkeling, not scuba, encounters are allowed to protect the animals. The no flash photography rule is great because pushing a big underwater camera housing is tough enough without strobes. The added drag of two large strobes would make it more challenging when swimming fast.

These big guys and gals don’t appear to move fast but when y0u drop into the water ahead of them you have to swim hard to catch up and stay with them. Those massive tail fins propel them swiftly through the water. It’s hard swimming in long bursts.

_TSL7226Connecting with whale sharks was interesting as well. Their small eyes on the sides of their large heads don’t really make eye contact or connection like whales, manatees and dolphins, who seem to want to connect and make deep eye contact. It was like swimming beside a very aloof person who ignores you and goes about their business. Only once did a whale shark react to me and it’s when I was quite close and moved my arm suddenly. The animal flinched but kept on with his or her travel.

Photographing these spotted wonders was great fun and yielded some nice images but the soul connection I have with whales, dolphins and manatees was simply not there. It doesn’t make them any less amazing, beautiful and wondrous to behold…and treasure.

Juvenile whale shark with a photographer
The Gift of Laughter

The Gift of Laughter

SimoneLipscomb (2)The golden moon glade glittered brilliantly on the smooth sea. Flat, calm with only the slightest stirring of the surface, each ripple was a stair step toward meeting Her. In the distance She hung low in the sky, illuminating the pre-dawn sky. I timidly took a step toward the round, ripe Sea Moon Goddess and as I moved slowly toward Her, I left behind my earthly form and rose up on the wings of light.

_TSL6631An ending to a week of beauty and laughter so profound I feel transformed and more at home in my body than ever before. Each of the brothers and sisters I traveled with brought gifts and one connection in particular sparked a flame of laughter and joy that opened dark, closed places. The flame of light grew through liquid laughter that brought me back to life. Salt water, fresh water, floating fun-filled stories suspended in moments between sea and sky brought joy and laughter that invited me home.

_TSL6322I expected to enjoy diving with sea lions, snorkeling with whale sharks, attempting to capture the beauty of nature through underwater photography. I expected to meet people who would become friends. These expectations became realities.

_TSL6836The biggest surprise was feeling joy and laughter grow within me like a shooting star burning more brilliant with each breath. The number of side-splitting, snorting hilarities were too numerous to count…on the boat, at meals, floating in the pool, standing at the rinse bins.

_TSL7177I didn’t realize how my soul yearned for free and unbridled expression of joy. Too often we lose that connection within that keeps us in touch with our lightness of being.

_TSL7125This is the first trip in years on which I didn’t write extensively and in detail. This time I determined to simply stay present with the experience…watching the sun rise over the mountains, diving with sea lions and giant balls of silver fish, floating head to head with massive whale sharks…be present….be present…breathe.

_TSL7070My regular meditation practice, exercising and other daily rituals were set aside. The only consistent practice I did was to acknowledge beauty, open my heart and mind to it and feel the reciprocal return flow fill me. The more I sent love out to the arid mountains, the sea and creatures of the sea, the more love I felt fill me. This helped move the old, stuck patterns of behavior to a new, lighter expression of life that is all-inclusive of the darkest and lightest parts of myself.

_TSL7357As I fly over the desert of Baja and the Sea of Cortez, I already feel the absence of the physical presence of my new friends…one a brother who feels like another piece of stardust from the home planet. The gifts each one brought to my life are held within, treasures of light and laughter that will continue to transform me.

_TSL6851With a grateful heart full of love I promise myself to remember my happy place, the many happy places discovered on this magical adventure to Baja and the Sea of Cortez.

Los Islotes ShotMany locals say La Paz and Cabo San Lucas are greener than they’ve ever seen due to rain amounts 300% above normal. The many seeds and plants that waited in the dry, hot desert until nourishing rains supported their growth amaze me. There is a new understanding within of how it feels to burst forth in new growth when the right nourishment arrives. Laughter is a priceless gift and those who bring it are angels of light….whether in human or non-human form.


Sea of Cortez–Whale Sharks!

Sea of Cortez–Whale Sharks!

Friday: Whale Shark Day!
Friday: Whale Shark Day!

Thursday and Friday

We moved a bit north to Isla Sal Si Puedes. One of the dive masters said it means ‘get out while you can.’ How comforting. I miss Capilla de la Mar. Leaving the remote island means we are headed back to civilization.

This mountain island where we anchor is less jagged with smoother, greenish slopes. The softness of the terrain is a nice change and beaches are here, which is also a difference from other islands we have seen.

The warm glow of the sun–orange and golden in hue–set the edge of advancing clouds on fire. The cerulean sky provides the canvas on which this masterpiece is composed. Where else but immersed in nature can one find such beauty while being kissed by the wind?

Chilly temperatures on the first dive but the past two days we had 86 degree water. On the first dive I cannot get my macro lens to focus on the giant jawfish so after watching them for a while I gently lift away and find a starfish crawling over the sand. I spend the next ten minutes hovering quietly, watching a starfish walk about four or five inches. It is perhaps the most relaxing experience of the trip.

SimoneLipscomb (1)On board, between dives, my mind wanders. Perhaps the most important experience on this journey has been to visit these unspoiled places where Spirit and Nature commune with very little human intervention. The experience has unleashed an amazing amount of energy within me. The challenge is to keep it moving and freed as I return to what we call civilization…although I think it’s far from civilized living.

I write a short, humorous story on the giant jawfish and a children’s poem on starfish and then do a couple more dives. We have a nice dinner and then we head for the bay where whale sharks live.

IMG_0400I awaken before dawn and am on the upper deck by 5am. I am not ready to see the lights of civilization even though this is a small village. The twinkling lights of Bahia de los Angeles in the darkness sadden me. The wildness fades and human habitation begins. One more day, I think.

This bay and the surrounding mountains are exquisitely beautiful. Faint orange and gold luminescence of the dawn brighten the sky behind steep, towering cliffs. Flat, calm water reflects the fiery warmth of solar hues.

SimoneLipscombSmoke lies heavy in the air and creates a hazy wall between our anchorage and the village. Oh, that there would always be that smoke-screen barrier between raw nature and human chaos.

Pelicans are feeding in the quiet bay, their wings softly shushing past before they dive again and again for breakfast.

The gathering light reflects on the rock face of the mountain across the bay and now it too glows with magnificence. Definition of the cracks and folds in its face become more pronounced as the light builds.

Capilla de la Mar….my name for the island where I will live as a sea lion if given a chance.

I have decided that if I have an opportunity to return, after this life, as an animal I will be a sea lion living on Capilla de la Mar. It’s beautiful, there is plenty of fish, I will have many companions and will see few humans.

_TSL5389Whale shark day. Our group begins as six, adds three briefly and then ends with four of us. We are the ones who pretended not to hear the dive masters as we floated after the dives and explored the edges of the rocky shore snorkeling…after handing our scuba gear up to the panga captain. We are the four that had to be begged to get out of the water after each dive. The ones who begged our mothers for just five more minutes of play time. It was the same with whale sharks.

_TSL5498Tons of fun and a great workout! Whales sharks appear to be moseying along, gently and slowly moving their tales back and forth. When the dive masters told us we would have to swim to keep up, we had absolutely no clue what that meant. Especially considering three of the four of us were pushing huge cameras through the water.

_TSL5394Whale sharks are awesomely cool and completely unconcerned with humans. Even when I was eye-to-eye with them or swimming just inches behind them, they paid absolutely no attention to me or the others. I was so closely behind one twice that if she had paused, I would have been slapped in the face with her gigantic tale…providing I couldn’t slam on my ‘brakes.’ There isn’t a connection like sea lions or whales or dolphins make with snorkelers or divers when there is recognition and sometimes interaction. These sharks, these huge plankton feeders, basically ignore us.

So close with my fisheye I can't get the entire animal in frame...but the details pop!
So close with my fisheye I can’t get the entire animal in frame…but the details pop!

“Swim hard!” is the motto of the day. At one point a few of us stay in the water over an hour watching whale sharks come and go, mobula rays leap from the water in synchronized efforts and generally frolicking in the peaceful bay. I can’t imagine a better way to end the trip. Six hours of non-stop fun.

_TSL5368We kid our dive master later about our asking to be in his group on whale shark day. He knew he would be out with us as long as we could possibly play.

_TSL5409Another night spent motoring back to Rocky Point, Mexico and we arrive at sunrise. Within five hours I am experiencing my first indoor shower in a week and am shaving the saguaro cactus forest from my legs. Soap, shampoo, shaving….seems far too civilized for my raw, wild self.  Yet as a human being, I am rejoining the insanity of what we call civilization….kicking and screaming all the way. Can I just have five more minutes? Please!!


Sea of Cortez I

Sea of Cortez II

Sea of Cortez III

Sea of Cortez IV

Sea of Cortez V