About Us

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We work as ecotourism guides (as well as biologist and boat captain) often on the BC Coast, but also as far ranging as the Arctic and Antarctic. We have an insatiable curiousity for the planet; all its hidden gems and what makes them tick. That and our love of sailing is what inspired us to sail around the Pacific in Narama, our tough and pretty little sailboat.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sea of Cortez Species List

(as of 5 February, 2010)

What was the shape and size and color and tone of this little expedition? We slipped into a new frame and grew to be a part of it, related in some subtle way to the reefs and beaches, related to the little animals, to the stirring waters and the warm brackish lagoons. This trip had dimension and tone. It was a thing whose boundaries seeped through itself and beyond into some time and space that was more than all the Gulf and more than all our lives.”
John Steinbeck – Log from the Sea of Cortez.

Bottlenose Dolphin
California Sealion
Short-finned Pilot Whale
Killer Whale
Bryde’s Whale
Black Jackrabbit
Antelope Squirrel

Laughing Gull
Brown Pelican
Yellow-footed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Belted Kingfisher
Double-crested Cormorant
Brandt’s Cormorant
Reddish Egret
Snowy Egret
Caspian Tern
Magnificent Frigatebird
Tricoloured Heron
White Ibis
Turkey Vulture
Great Blue Heron
American Golden Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Blue-footed Booby
Eared Grebe
Brown Booby
American Oystercatcher
Common Raven
Northern Mockingbird
Lesser Goldfinch
Cassin’s Finch
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Gila Woodpecker
Black-throated Sparrow
California Gnatcatcher
Red Cardinal
Costa’s Hummingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Heerman’s Gull
Violet-green Swallow
Black-capped Night Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
Spotted Sandpiper
Canyon Wren
Black-vented Shearwater
House Finch
Little Blue Heron
Great Egret
Lesser Scaup
Red Billed Tropic Bird
Craveri’s Murrelet
Lesser Nighthawk
White-crowned Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Green-tailed Towhee
Western Scrub-Jay
Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Yellowtail Surgeonfish
Bicolor Parrotfish
Leopard Grouper (including a golden phase)
Manta Ray
Green Moray
Moorish Idol
Guineafowl Puffer
Cortez Rainbow Wrasse
Giant Damselfish
Scissortail Damselfish
Flatiron Herring
Blue-and-Gold Snapper
King Angelfish
Sergeant Major
Pacific Beaubrummel
Mexican Hogfish
Longnose Hawkfish
Yellowfin Surgeonfish
Finescale Triggerfish
Coral Hawkfish
Cortez Damselfish
Mexican Goatfish
Rainbow Runner
Pacific Sierra
Spotted Porcupinefish
Yellow Jack
Convict Tang
Banded Guitarfish
Spotted Green Puffer
Threebanded Butterflyfish
Diamond Stingray
Wounded Wrasse
Spottail Grunt
Bumphead Damselfish
Cortez Garden Eel
Blunthead Triggerfish
Cortez Grunt
Graybar Grunt
Panamic Fanged Blenny
Orangeside Triggerfish
Jewel Moray
Bullseye Stingray
Yellow Snapper
Barred Pargo
Blue-and-Yellow Chromis
Zebra Moray
Sunset Wrasse

I can already hear the invertebrate taxonomists that I used to work with “where’s the invert list!!??” But this really is a place of fish, although the coral warrants mentioning. Also looking at this list it seems that I need to learn how to identify the beautiful reptiles here! More books required….

Photos: Short-nosed Rock Lizard, Short-finned Pilot Whale, Bottlenose Dolphins, Green Turtle, Yellow-footed Gull, Immature Brandt's Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Speckled Rattlesnake, Wilson's Plover, California Sealion, Espiritu Santo Striped Whipsnake

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is it?

Calling all Ichthyologists!

We found this weird monster in a bay on Espiritu Santo Island. We can only imagine that it is a deep sea fish (it has gills, we checked). So if anyone has any idea what species it is, we would love to know. This very dead specimen is missing its jaw, so we think maybe it was caught by a fisherman (what a surprise that would be!) and quickly chucked off the line. It measures 4.2 meters (yes we went ashore with a tape measure). It really frightened our friend Barbara when she came across it while snorkeling in the shallows!

Epilogue (a few days later)

We have found our species, well at least the genus. We went to the National Park office armed with our photos and found someone there who studies fish and was very interested. She told us that it was indeed a deep sea fish, called an Oarfish or Peces Remo, which means paddle (Regalecus sp), so named because it is so flat. It is almost never seen alive, only washed up dead or nearly dead. The longest ever recorded fish is of this species, and one washed up in Western Australia a couple days ago and made the news (amazing what you can find on Google). She also kindly gave us these photos which show the fish with more colour. Mystery solved.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sea of Cortez

This is the time of year when everyone living in the northern temperate climate dreams of spring, the returning warmth of the sun and longer daylight hours. It is not surprising that we recently had some friends willing to travel great distances to visit us in the Sea of Cortez. The furthest was Barbara, coming from Scotland where the winter is particularly grim this year. Space on Narama is small and there aren’t many luxuries. Our shower, for example, is a bag of water heated by the sun, hung from the boom over the cockpit. It’s not very private and the water is only hot if you shower between noon and about 4 pm, outside these times it is fairly chilly, made worse if there’s any breeze blowing in the anchorage. But these are relatively minor sacrifices. Besides, we have been lucky with our wildlife sightings, exploring gorgeous desert islands, paddling meandering mangrove lagoons and snorkeling in crystal blue water full of fish, which all make us feel incredibly fortunate.
When Jared and Christie joined us after Christmas we had four experienced marine mammal observers onboard. The pressure was on! We saw a large pod of Short-finned Pilot Whales, followed by Killer Whales, which we thought were harassing a Bryde’s Whale. Cameras were poised to catch a major feeding event, but nothing dramatic transpired. It has been a lovely few weeks of enjoying this place that Jaques Cousteau described as “the world’s aquarium.” We are slowly learning to recognize most of the common fish species after snorkeling nearly everyday.
Bryde's Whales: Photo Jared Towers.

We are about to settle in an anchorage not far from La Paz and get back to work. Unfortunately it’s not gainful employment, but work on Narama. We can’t pass up all this fine weather without taking the opportunity to varnish, polish, reseal the toe-rail, fix the starter on the engine… and so the list goes on.