THE QUEST TO PHOTOGRAPH STRIPED MARLIN

We have been trying to start a blog for ages, so here it goes.......

This is a story that took place last year. A quest to find Striped Marlin (Kajikia Audax), which was a reminder of why it is always important to keep exploring and how persistence is key when you want to achieve something.

The first half of 2016 had been a difficult one for us. Diving, as any other sport has it's up's and down's, and because you put so much effort into it (time, energy, money) it can be frustrating at times. It seemed like bad weather had been chasing us, but it was all going to change.......

Irene @panchita_oh, Christian @christianvizl and I decided to spend a month in Baja. This land is still a wild place, despite the fact that thousands of tourists go there every year and that you can see signs of civilization in certain areas, there is still a feeling to it that attracts like-minded people with a thirst for adventure. And if you look in the right places it is full of surprises.

We chose La Paz as our base where we got to hang out with lots of friends and spent several days diving with sea lions, snorkeling with whale sharks and visiting a few other dive sites in the Sea of Cortez. But we felt like we were missing something.

There were reports of Striped Marlin hunting sardine bait balls in the area. This got us really excited and after doing some research and getting a few tips from people who are knowledgable on the area, we decided to pack our dive gear, get our cameras ready, and hit the road. We drove north and took our chances.

Upon arriving to the location, we spoke to a local fisherman who would be our captain. He told us it would be a gamble to take us looking for striped marlin hunting on sardine bait balls in the area, as it had been a while since the last time they were successful. We didn't have big expectations, as we knew finding them could be difficult.

Fishermen from all over the world travel long distances to catch them. For us as well as for many other ocean enthusiasts out there, striped marlin are a unicorn. Not only for their bill, which is one of their distinctive features, but because they are hard to find.

The next morning we woke up at 5 am to have a delicious breakfast in town. Afterwards, we got all our gear onboard and took the panga ride to the open ocean. It took us over 2 hours to get to a sea mount where we could see a few other boats.

The lack of bird activity and the calm in the surface of the ocean, made me think that we would not be successful that day. Our Captain asked one of the fisherman if he had seen any activity. His response wasn't what we expected and it was time to make a decision. We could keep going further offshore or go back and try something else. Irene, Christian an dI looked at each other and decided to keep going.

A few minutes later we saw some bird activity. It got our hearts pumping faster and we started getting ready. As we got closer, the splash on the surface of the ocean confirmed we where in the right spot. Before we could even get in the water, they were gone. Billfish are extremely fast and encounters can last anywhere from 2 seconds to over 1 hour or more. So you need to be ready to seize the moment.

Knowing they were in the area, we kept going until we spotted some more bird activity. After a few minutes there were so many birds on the horizon, we didn't know where to go. Hundreds or maybe thousands of striped marlin where hunting. There were multiple bait balls in the area and it was a matter of choosing one and jumping in.

We spent hours that day swimming with them taking pictures and video. I never thought it would get to a point were we would be so tired, that everyone would want to go back to shore. The ocean gave us an incredible opportunity that day and we were smiling from ear to ear, knowing that we could have missed it if we didn't take our chances.

The next few days just kept getting better and better. We saw dolphins, whales, sea lions and turtles too. On the last day we spent over 45 mins on a single bait ball. Striped Marlin were all over the area.

This has been one of the best adventures I have had the pleasure to share with Irene and Christian up to date. This is a great place for pelagics and we will be back next year.

The images and video below speak for themselves:

 
 
 

Photos by: Irene Orozco

 

Photos by: Christian Vizl


Until the next adventure...

Cris
 

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