Amos Nachoum's Costa Rica Dome Expedition to snorkel and free dive with blue whales has just wrapped up! Utilizing MV Argo, this adventurous group of explorers traveled an impressive 500 miles to the west of Costa Rica to search for blue whales in the CR Dome. Nicknamed the "blue whale café", the CR Dome is a known zone in which blue whales (earth’s SuperGiants, measuring an impressive 70 to 90ft) congregate to eat, play, mate, and most importantly birth and nurse their calves. Not only did we spot several of these giants, but we had many other surprise encounters with other large animals...check out our daily log below:
Pioneers Meet at the Blue Whale Café January 14 - 27, 2014
Blue Whale at the CR Dome
Bryde's whale at the CR Dome
Aerial Quadcopter Camera
Pepe leading the search on the zodiac
Day 1: We departed from Puntarenas at 14:30 on a Sunny day. Our guest were a mix from Unites States, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Italy, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Israel and Switzerland. Everyone was very excited to participate in such an exclusive expedition to the Costa Rican Dome with the objective of seeing blue whales!
Sea Conditions: Very Calm (0/10)
Day 2: 6:30 in the morning, right after sunrise we had our first glimpse of a blue whale!! It was an 80ft specimen. She stayed around the same area for the whole day and on a few occasions while we were watching her from MV Argo, she got very close to it, to everyone’s delight, especially the photographers. During the day we also saw several turtles, mobulas, dolphins and at sunset we spotted two Bryde's whale (which can reach nearly 50ft/15m) We also saw a few dolphins and turtles.
Weather: windy during the morning, calmer in the afternoon. Sunny
Sea Conditions: A bit choppy in the morning(4/10), calmer in the afternoon(2/10)
Day 3: At around 15:00 we observed three blue whales and a Bryde’s whale. Throughout the day we also saw common dolphins and turtles.
Weather: windy during the morning, calmer in the afternoon.
Sea Conditions: A bit choppy in the morning(4/10), calmer in the afternoon (2/10). Conditions were not favorable to deploy the skiffs.
Day 4: First sight of a blue whale at 7:00am and two Bryde's whales. Late afternoon, at 15:30 we saw another blue whale. While following her a male orca whale appeared and around 16:30 we saw a pod of 4 female orca whales that we monitored until sunset. Like the previous days, we also spotted common dolphins.
Weather: windy during the morning and calmer in the afternoon. Sunny all day
Sea Conditions: a bit choppy in the morning(4/10), calmer in the afternoon(2/10). Conditions were not favorable to deploy the skiffs.
Day 5: After sailing during the whole morning, we had the first sight of blue whales at 14:00, there were three in total. They stayed around the same area for the rest of the day. While sailing we also saw bottle nose dolphins and a few turtles.
Weather: windy the whole day. Sunny all day
Sea Conditions: Choppy all day (4/10). Conditions were not favorable to deploy the skiffs.
Day 6: Two blue whales were seen at 8:00am. We sailed the entire morning back to the east. While sailing we spotted dolphins and a hawksville turtle. At 17:00 we encountered yet another Bryde's whale.
Weather: windy the whole day. Sunny all day
Sea Conditions: Choppy during the morning(6/10) and calmer in the afternoon(2/10). Conditions were not favorable to deploy the skiffs.
Day 7: In the morning we were with the skiffs in the water for a couple of hours tracking a blue whale. In the afternoon we saw saw dolphins and a Mola mola!
Weather: Nearly no wind in the morning but more windy in the afternoon. Sunny all day.
Sea Conditions: calm in the morning(2/10) but more choppy in the afternoon (4/10).
Day 8: Early in the morning we had a small group of 5 or 6 Bryde’s whales. We put two skiffs in the water and we stayed with the whales for four hours. Finally the first encounters occurred! The snorkelers took their first underwater pictures! After a tasty lunch we spotted three blue whales, again we spent few hours in the water with them! During the day we also had sights of common dolphins and turtles.
Weather: A bit windy the whole day. Sunny all day
Sea Conditions: Calm during the morning (2/10) and a bit more choppy in the afternoon. (3/10)
Day 9: With a number of blue whales in the area we decided that due to challenging weather conditions, it was perhaps best to make our way to Cocos Island and dive our favorite dive sites - Dirty Rock, Alcyone, Punta Maria and Manuelita.
Weather: Windy the whole day. Sunny all day
Sea Conditions: Choppy (5/10)
About the Costa Rica Dome Expedition
Biodiverse and rich in plankton blooms, the Costa Rica Dome is the winter home of the blue whale, the earth’s SuperGiant, measuring an impressive 70 to 90 feet long. Between the months of January and March, whales gather at the dome to eat, play, mate, and most importantly birth and nurse their calves. This makes the Dome the only place in the ocean where blue whales can be observed in all stages of their lives. For this reason we call the Costa Rica Dome the “Blue Whale Cafe,” the ultimate gathering place for the sea’s SuperGiants.
Located 500 miles west of Costa Rica, the Costa Rica Dome’s nourishing habitat has been a place of scientific interest since the 1950s. However, there have been very few onsite studies of the area. No professional scientist, diver or photojournalist has ever explored the Costa Rica Dome before with the exception of the BBC and National Geographic 5 years ago.
Big Animals Expeditions, the world leader in blue whale expeditions in California and Sri Lanka, is excited to be the first to offer an exclusive and first of it’s kind journey to the Costa Rica Dome. In partnership with dive operators Undersea Hunter Group on the dive vessel ARGO, and world leading blue whale researcher Richard Sears, 14 adventurers will travel to the dome to experience and record the most complete picture of the blue whale’s life.
At Home at the Costa Rica Dome
According to scientific studies, the Costa Rica Dome may be critical to the future of the endangered blue whale. The Dome serves as a feeding ground for the blue whale through winter months and all year round. Additionally, blue whales found at the Dome are the healthiest of the species.
Photography with Amos Nachoum
Professional photography will be done with Amos Nachoum, the BBC wildlife photographer of the year in 2007 and 2008, and who was awarded the prestigious Best of Show Award 2012 in the American Photographic Artists (APA) competition. Amos has 14 years of experience free diving with blue whales. His explorations have been featured on NatGeo, BBC and the Discovery Channel. Big Animals Expeditions re-creates the same TV documentaries adventures for your first hand experience and photography.
Onboard Education with Richard Sears
Blue whale education will be provided by Richard Sears, founder, researcher, and head of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS), one of the first organizations in the world to conduct long-term studies on whales. After studying biology at the university, Sears joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic institute where he shared privileged moments with the whales of baie de Moisie.
Date: January 14 - 27, 2014
Duration: 13 days
Max No. of Guests: 14 guests
For more information or to learn about next years trip visit: biganimals.com