Feeling Small with Baja's Blue Whales
By Marika Powers, Lead Expedition Guide on the Safari Endeavour
The longer I spend down here in the wild desert of Baja, the more I appreciate the small things. The diminutive whorl of an intricate purple wildflower, no larger than the grains of sand surrounding it. The tiny textured eye of a perfectly camouflaged frogfish against the colorful rocks of the reef.
But sometimes a tiny dot on the horizon that just catches your eye turns out to be a huge discovery. While scanning the sea outside of the perfectly protected harbor of Escondido, we saw a glimpse of smooth darkness skim along the ocean’s surface. As we cruised in for a better look, the debates began. What was it? A dolphin? No. A whale? Absolutely! But what kind? This was no little whale. It's smooth dorsal seemed to go on forever as it crested the water’s surface. Finally, after a spirited debate over marine radio and in the bridge, we determined that it was a Blue Whale.
Blue Whales are the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth. These magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 100 feet long and upwards of 200 tons, if you can even imagine such a thing. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant. Their hearts, as much as an automobile. Blue Whales reach these almost impossible seeming dimensions on a diet composed nearly exclusively of tiny shrimplike animals called krill. During certain times of the year, a single adult Blue Whale consumes about four tons of krill a day. The mind reels at such enormous stats.
Watching the whale, I am reminded that sometimes it is not finding the tiniest treasures that make this place so special, but rather feeling very small in comparison to something so big.