The Deep Blue

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

It’s a deep-seeded desire for me to be on the water from the moment I see it. Long hours lounging at the beach are nice, frolicking in shallow waves at shore is also necessary, but nothing draws like watching the coastline fade as salty water splashes up on my arm dangling over the side of a speeding boat.

Deep Blue Dive

And as we rushed away from Puerto Escondido, all smiles in the cool wind that relieved the brutal heat, sometimes the only thing to distinguish the dull blue of the water from the horizon were gentle ripples. It was unexpected, how flat the ocean was in parts, considering the size of the waves we saw onshore. But we weren’t just there to puzzle over the size of the swells. Lorenzo had bigger plans for us: along with his mate Victor, we were to be shown sea turtles, dolphins, and if luck would have it, whales.

Pete and I have a terrible record with seeing wildlife. Usually, on such excursions, some sort of subliminal radar is emitted by both of us that chases all living beings in the opposite direction. We were nervous for us, our two hosts, and the four other passengers that such misfortune would upset us all.

Our fears were unfounded. Our first sighting was of two sea turtles making sweet turtle-y love, and then it was all good from there. In fact, it was better than we ever could have imagined.

Dolphin Pod
Dolphin Jump

We were surrounded by dolphins. At first Pacific white-sided dolphins, and then the more-friendly spotted variety. The opportunity to swim alongside them while dragging beside the boat was offered, and Pete eagerly took advantage.

On the boat trying to video the experience, I could barely keep up. I’d focus on one spot waiting for action, and then quickly adjust to another as five or six would jump.

We all darted from one side of the boat to the other, in awe of the display being put on. Dolphins jump to get rid of parasites, for play, and for communication. I, of course, preferred to think they were all for us – making up for all the other species on the planet that have always run in the other direction.

And yet, unknown to us during that time, there was still much more in store.

“Cuidado, Victor!” Be careful, Lorenzo called out. After nearly a half an hour of searching to no avail, we were now, quite literally, on top of a 25 ton humpback whale and her baby.

Whale in Front
Whale Close Up

We inched along, trying to keep pace, Victor careful to maneuver along at a slight distance. We were lucky once again to be in this right place at the right time. Given it was the end of season for whales in the area, we had searched for nearly an hour to find her, and had almost given up and turned for shore. But there she surfaced to our delighted squeals, and with a baby no less, meaning that they would come up much more often for air than the roughly fifteen minutes an adult whale can go without.

Our wildlife dry-spell had ended in dramatic fashion.

Yeah, you’re gonna wanna watch this video…

If you are having problems viewing this video, click thru to see dolphin and whale watching in Puerto Escondido.

how to do it

Whale season in Puerto Escondido starts in December and tails off in March of every year. Large dolphin populations swim very close to shore, and this is a unique opportunity to swim with them in their natural habitat.

Lorenzo offers regular tours with his company Deep Blue Dive.

** I would like to acknowledge that after publishing this post, a reader (see comments below) alerted us to the fact that our pursuit of the whale was in violation of sustainable practices, of which we feel terribly about. See this website for more information.

Many thanks to Lorenzo for this complimentary excursion. As always, all opinions are our own.

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    1. They were big (by my wimpy standards!) and only getting bigger. I didn’t realize this, but PE is supposed to be the third best place in the world for surfing.

  1. Your photos are stunning! I love the lone dolphin jumping 🙂 Oh, Mexico. You’ve just given us one more reason to go and visit. Or maybe live there. Great post!

  2. Great photos but being so close to a whale can causes stress to these fragile marine wildlife populations so sustainable tourism practices recommend safe distances and procedures to avoid harm. Its worth checking the website below for recommended guidelines for viewing distances – ie 200 yards

    1. Thank you so much for your comment – I will admit that I did wonder about that as we got closer.

      For some reason, the link didn’t make it through the comment so I am adding it again here for readers to access.

      Again, thanks for sharing.

  3. I have always wanted to swim with dolphins (especially outside of a resort). I have been on whale watching tours in the past (Alaska and Washington) but had to stay on the boat for the cold water temperatures. I would love to go on something like this one day! And OMG that turtle in your video was HUGE!

  4. Another incredible wildlife encounter! Seems like Mexico is making up for all those times you’ve come away disappointed. I’ve seen dolphins in the wild once before, but never a whale of any kind… must have been so incredible (and maybe a teeny tiny bit scary? I always feel my adrenaline kick up a bit when I’m near an exceedingly large wild animal.).

  5. What an amazing experience!! We went whale watching off the coast of Maine but it was nothing like this. We saw two spraying from a distance and the surfaced a few times, but it was over pretty quickly. I’d love to try again!

  6. Wow! I had a similar dolphin experience in Hawaii but I have yet to have a successful whale watching encounter. One of these days!

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