We managed to get out and hunt
for sailfish everyday. During the trip we had lone sailfish,
groups of sailfish on bait balls, a visit from a pod of
friendly Atlantic spotted dolphins and a brief encounter
with a whale shark.
Day One -
Proof of Life
Our first day
at sea was a bit bumpy due to high winds but it was nothing
we couldn't handle. However, there wasn't much bird
activity. The sailfish corral sardines in deep water and push
them to the surface where they are pinned and helpless. Then
they systematically pick away at the ball of fish until
there are none left. In order to find the action, we rely on
frigate birds to show us where the fish are. When the
frigates find a bait ball they form a cloud above it while
they wait for it to reach the surface where they can swoop
in and pluck fish from the ball without getting wet.
We did see a
couple of small bait balls by following the birds and there
was clearly activity under the surface but if the bait ball
is small its not always easy to reach it before the action
is over. Even though we didn't get any dynamic
encounters, we did at least get a close pass from a sailfish
so we were reassured that they were in the area.
- Thats not a Sailfish!
By day two
the wind had calmed down considerably. There was also a lot
more bird activity but it was mostly dorado feeding on
flying fish. While looking for the main event, we stumbled
upon a lonely whale shark swimming northward. Whale sharks
visit the northern Yucatan in great numbers later in the
summer but it was a surprising encounter at this time of
had had a taste of what the Mexican Caribbean has on offer,
we were ready for some serious sailfish action. Fortunately,
day three heralded calm seas and plenty of birds. It didn't
take long to get our first bait ball. It wasn't huge but
everyone was excited anyway.
jumped on a couple of small feeding events, we ran into a
pod of dolphins. As beautiful as they are, dolphins are
generally bad news when you're looking for sailfish because
they break up the balls. Fortunately, these weren't
bottlenose dolphins. They were Atlantic spotted dolphins; a
playful species that love to interact with humans so we
jumped in and tried to keep up as they ran circles around
I could have
played with the dolphins all day but the captain called us
back to the boat to go in search of more sailfish.
the hunt and came across plenty of hapless sardines. The
bait was running fast and it was not easy for us to keep up
with the action but everyone got some good views of these
lightning fast predators.
- Rough seas and a painful encounter with the boat deck!
unusual to lose a day or two to weather when chasing
sailfish in the Mexican winter so we were not surprised when
we woke up to windy conditions on our last day. Everyone was
still keen to give it a try so we headed out into the
weather. It wasn't that bad but clearly rougher than the
previous days at sea.
searching for a couple of hours we spotted a huge flock of
frigate birds working a bait ball in the distance. As we
scrambled to get ready, one of our guests was surprised by a
wave and his knee hit the deck awkwardly. It soon became
apparent that it wasn't just bruised so we turned tail and
ran back to port leaving the activity behind us. It was a
good thing we did because his knee cap was broken by the
impact - our first and hopefully last serious injury on one
of our trips!
Mexico in good spirits even though one of us was on
crutches. It was a fun trip with a great group of
enthusiastic guests that I hope we see again.
this great video from the trip by Mike Uyehara:
FORWARD TO SAILFISH 2018
we're heading back to Mexico from February 5th to 10th to
roll the dice with the sailfish once again. There is no
question that this is not an easy trip but the chance of
seeing scores of sailfish decimating a huge ball of sardines
is too tempting to resist!
He has photographed and dived with more sharks than most
people on this planet and he's very good at it.
Andy's images and shark stories have appeared in hundreds
of books and magazines around the world from titles as varied as
Canadian Geographic, Scuba Diving, FHM, Digital Photography, and
the Journal of Zoology.
Andy is the Creator of the ever expanding
Shark and Ray Field
Guide on Elasmodiver
When not running big animal expeditions or on
photographic assignments, Andy lives and dives on Vancouver Island,
Andy is also the driving force behind
the PREDATORS IN PERIL PROJECT
which shines a spotlight on many endangered species of sharks and
rays that are largely overlooked by mainstream conservation groups.
Predators In Peril is entirely funded by Big Fish Expeditions.