Searcher Natural History Tours

Searcher Natural History Tours Whalewatching, pelagic birding, and wildlife weekends in Southern California and Baja California
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Operating as usual

Great things planned for 2021 San Diego Bird Festival! Congrats to organizers. We donate a spot on our 2021 5-day pelagi...
11/05/2020
2021 San Diego Bird Festival

Great things planned for 2021 San Diego Bird Festival! Congrats to organizers. We donate a spot on our 2021 5-day pelagic trip for the silent auction. Check it out! Jen Hajj

A celebration of the wild birds and habitats of San Diego County

10/15/2020
Searcher Natural History Tours’ annual 5-day Labor Day pelagic birding trip

Searcher Natural History Tours’ annual 5-day Labor Day pelagic birding trip sailed Sept 7-11, 2020. Passengers and leaders surveyed deep-water areas from the southwestern limits of the ABA, north to the Channel Islands, and west to the Rodriguez Dome and San Juan Seamount, offshore up to 200 miles.

Highlight sightings included Laysan albatross; Guadalupe, Scripps, and Craveri’s murrelets (in the same day!); Sabine’s gull; Nazca and Blue-footed boobies; South Polar skua; Cook’s petrel; and a flock of Buller’s shearwaters. Over 100 species were observed and photographed.

Join us in 2021! There’s a few spots still open so you can reserve your spot at the rail. Meanwhile, enjoy our highlights video! Thank you Alisa Schulman-Janiger for the incredible photos.

link to 2021 trip: https://www.bajawhale.com/pelagic/pelagic-birding-tour-2018-2-3/

Searcher Natural History Tours's cover photo
09/18/2020

Searcher Natural History Tours's cover photo

Last day of trip was a full one on Cortez Bank. Thank you Todd McGrath David Pereksta and Dave Povey
09/11/2020
2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 - Bajawhale.com

Last day of trip was a full one on Cortez Bank. Thank you Todd McGrath David Pereksta and Dave Povey

View Larger Image 2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 Hello all, It’s been excellent day with plenty of things to look at including storm petrels, shearwaters, and albatrosses including at least 20 black-footed and the highlight of the day: a laysan albatross! Lots of people added this bird to thei...

Good day of sightings out west! Todd McGrath Alisa Schulman-Janiger David Pereksta and Dave Povey
09/10/2020
2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 - Bajawhale.com

Good day of sightings out west! Todd McGrath Alisa Schulman-Janiger David Pereksta and Dave Povey

View Larger Image 2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 Hello all, We had a great day today and several people added to their life list! Passenger Ben had a birthday today and added four birds to his life list. We saw all three possible murrelets today: Craveri’s, Scripps’s and Guadalupe. That was ...

Day 2 in the Channel Islands!
09/09/2020
2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 - Bajawhale.com

Day 2 in the Channel Islands!

View Larger Image 2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 Hello all, We started our day at Santa Barbara Island where a brown booby colony has established. Recently a blue footed booby has joined the colony, so this is the first time that we have seen a blue-footed booby on our Southern California pelagi...

Pelagic Tour is off and birding! First afternoon's report just posted. Trip leaders are: Todd McGrath, David Pereksta an...
09/08/2020
2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 - Bajawhale.com

Pelagic Tour is off and birding! First afternoon's report just posted. Trip leaders are: Todd McGrath, David Pereksta and Dave Povey
Thanks to Tom Blackman for use of his photos!

View Larger Image 2020 Pelagic Birding Tour Sep 7-11 Hello all, We departed on our annual pelagic birding trip today. We are headed west for the afternoon. We saw loads of black-vented shearwaters on the 9-mile bank. And we went through an area of black storm petrels with an occasional least storm p...

Longing for some spacing, the great outdoors, fresh ocean air, and marine wildlife? Our annual September pelagic birding...
08/06/2020
Pelagic Birding Tour, 2020 - Bajawhale.com

Longing for some spacing, the great outdoors, fresh ocean air, and marine wildlife? Our annual September pelagic birding/whalewatching tour has that "space" and a spot for you!
With leaders @Todd McGrath, @Dave Pereksta @David Povey https://www.bajawhale.com/pelagic/pelagic-birding-tour-2018-2-2/

Pelagic Birding Tour, 2020 Pelagic Birding Tour, 2020 Sep 7 - Sep 11, 2020 Depart: San Diego, California, USA Return: San Diego, California, USA $1,495 USD 8 spots open RESERVE NOW Round trip from San Diego, California We’ll offer a free evening presentation about the pelagic tour by leader Todd M...

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠Sperm Whale⁠⁠📷⁠ by Sally W.  ⁠and 📷 ⁠by Mike W. ⁠⁠Paul A. Jones, Searcher natur...
06/19/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠

Sperm Whale⁠

📷⁠ by Sally W. ⁠and 📷 ⁠by Mike W. ⁠

Paul A. Jones, Searcher naturalist, gave us the following sightings report from a recent trip:⁠

"On March 18 aboard Searcher we found a group of about 20 sperm whales just east Isla Espiritu Santo in the Gulf of California. We had 20 animals that surfaced very near Searcher in 5-7 smaller groups. One whale swam straight toward Searcher affording a great view of its asymmetric blowhole before it fluked up and dove. Others bobbed at the surface for long periods as they recharged their muscles with oxygen, providing excellent opportunities for passengers to take photos of these impressive, deep-diving whales." ⁠

paul jones bio: https://www.bajawhale.com/naturalists/paul-jones-n/

https://youtu.be/2nReXeB39Zc

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
06/15/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We'll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!⁠

📷 by Team Searcher

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:Humpback 🐋📷 by Mark W.
06/12/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:

Humpback 🐋

📷 by Mark W.

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
06/08/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We'll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!⁠

📷 by Team Searcher

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is: Sea Turtle That Monday mystery creature is, as far as I can tell, a green sea tu...
06/05/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is: Sea Turtle


That Monday mystery creature is, as far as I can tell, a green sea turtle. The animal in the Friday reveal is a loggerhead sea turtle. On Searcher trips in Baja we see both of these species regularly and can also spot Pacific Ridley's and hawksbill turtles, though rarely. Leatherbacks are also possible, but I have only seen them up north. In any case, it's difficult to identify them at sea and we rely on an ID key created by Seaturtle.org (http://www.seaturtle.org/documents/ID_sheet.pdf) and good photographs. We look for the number of prefrontal scales as well as the nuchal and costal scute patterns. Green sea turtles lay eggs in Baja's lagoons as well as in the upper part of the Gulf of California. Loggerheads are fascinating in that they forage in our waters but don't nest locally. Instead, they migrate all the way back across the Pacific Ocean where the females lay their eggs primarily in eastern Australia and Japan. Paul Paul A. Jones

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
06/01/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We'll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!⁠

📷 by Linda Lewis

05/29/2020
Mystery Monday reveal

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is: Long-beaked Common Dolphins

Thanks to this gorgeous slow-motion footage from Paul A. Jones, Searcher naturalist, we can see why common dolphins are such a treat to witness while aboard Searcher in Baja.

Common dolphins are strikingly marked and are often found travelling together in large groups or pods, sometimes up in the thousands. They are a joy to encounter as they often leap, splash back on their sides, and, as seen in this video, "bow ride" in the pressure wave made as the boat moves forward.

This footage captures the precision, athleticism, and agility of these dolphins as they quickly swim, surface, feed, and even socialize all while maneuvering in the bow of the boat. We often see very young calves swimming alongside mothers, both keeping up the pace!

Also in this video you can see remoras attached to some of the dolphins. These are suckerfishes that attach themselves via a flat sucking disk on their heads to larger marine animals such as whales, sharks and other fishes.

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
05/25/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We’ll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!⁠

by Team Searcher

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ Blue Whale📸 by Rick and Sally W."This is a blue whale surface lunge feeding wi...
05/22/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ Blue Whale

📸 by Rick and Sally W.

"This is a blue whale surface lunge feeding with one of the tail flukes sticking out of the water as it’s on its side. Blue whales are the most massive animals to ever live on the planet. They are obligate krill eaters, and consume many tons of plankton every day. A calf gains 6 pounds per hour while nursing and the whale in this photo was with her calf when Searcher happened upon a feeding frenzy. In addition to this pair, we saw lots of birds, dolphins, and a Bryde’s whale. It was spectacular." Thanks to Paul A. Jones for his interpretation.

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
05/18/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We'll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!

📷by Paul Paul A. Jones

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ California Sea Lion.📸 by  Peter D., Chris E. and Team SearcherThis is the icon...
05/15/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ California Sea Lion.

📸 by Peter D., Chris E. and Team Searcher

This is the iconic California sea lion, once used as a circus performer (sadly), but now seen in the wild across the coastal waters of the Pacific from Alaska to the Gulf of California, Baja. Seen at sea as far out as 100 miles or more, they are more more often seen nearshore at their haul out sites and rookeries. On Searcher trips, we see these amazing animals at several places, but most notably at Los Islotes where we can snorkel with them, as seen in the photos. There are bulls, nursing females with their pups born the previous year, and plenty of frisky juveniles. In and out of the water, they're fun to watch, but I like to see them "porpoising" when they are traveling fast and leaping several body lengths at a time. They hit this "crossover speed" to avoid high wave drag in the water and go airborne to both breathe and cover some ground. They are deep divers, playful, tough, smart, and resilient. What's not to like? - Paul A. Jones

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
05/11/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We'll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!⁠

📷by Team Searcher

05/10/2020
Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! We hope all the mothers out there enjoy a wonderful day while you watch our mother and baby blue whale video. Watching from our homes, but we can still enjoy nature. We love this video and we love to share our love of nature with you.

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠Whale SharkMeet the largest fish on the planet, none other than the whale shark...
05/08/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠

Whale Shark

Meet the largest fish on the planet, none other than the whale shark, Rhynchodon typus. While this behemoth is about 30 feet long at sexual maturity, a very large individual can get upwards of 60 feet. And they are thought to be long lived as well, reaching 80 years of age or more. In the Bay of La Paz where they are seen on Searcher trips when the weather cooperates (and most of the time it does), there are aggregations of juveniles. Interestingly, most of these sharks are males. The shallow waters are a great place to see them up close, though we have spotted them in deeper oceanic waters also. The juveniles are feeding on clouds of plankton known as copepods, which the remoras that hitch a ride on the whale sharks also feed on. Researchers have also found that some juvenile whale sharks migrate in the Gulf of California between Bahia de La Paz and Bahia de los Ángeles after spending a month or more in the shallow bays.”⁠~Paul Jones Paul A. Jones And thanks to Lee Morgan for photo with the swimmer.

Happy Whale Wednesday. Enjoy an absolutely stunning photo of a Bryde's Whale.⁠📷 by Peter D.
05/06/2020

Happy Whale Wednesday. Enjoy an absolutely stunning photo of a Bryde's Whale.

📷 by Peter D.

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
05/04/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We'll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!⁠

📷by Team Searcher

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ Red-billed Tropicbird📸 by  Paul JonesThat mystery bird is a red-billed tropicb...
05/01/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ Red-billed Tropicbird

📸 by Paul Jones

That mystery bird is a red-billed tropicbird. I love tropicbirds and few things are more exciting on a Searcher trip than Captain Art calling out "red-billed tropicbird alert" on the PA system. My first sighting was in 1974 when sailing across the Atlantic aboard a 33' yawl Sea Harmony. Ever since, they've been near and dear to my naturalist heart. This neotropical species and member of the larger order of birds Pelecaniformes is found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans and breeds on islands in the Gulf of CA. You can see them on Searcher trips often enough, but never in great numbers as they forage alone or in pairs, feeding on flying fish and squid. Their tail streamers, sometimes 2 x body length, are glorious. A mated pair will fly high above a nesting site performing ritual acrobatic maneuvers and calling in their shrill voices, which, long ago, reminded sailors of a bosun's whistle - thus their nickname "bosun bird." Phaethon, the name of the three species of tropicbirds, comes from mythical Greek son of Oceanid Clymene and Helios, the sun god. This species' name, aethereus, means ethereal or aloft. Look for these birds high in the sky on your next Searcher trip! (Middle photo was taken inMarch 2020 by Tanja Credner.)-Paul Paul A. Jones

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on ...
04/27/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? We decided to make it a bit harder this week. This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We'll reveal the answer on Friday, so stay tuned for the answer and more from the field!⁠

📷by Team Searcher

04/24/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ Orca

📸 by Paul A. Jones

That mystery whale ID was a tough one, for sure. Bottlenose, Risso's or Pacific white-sided dolphins were good guesses, but that's the dorsal fin of an orca or killer whale - likely a female or young animal. On Searcher trips, we can see the classic transient form which are known to migrate from Southern California. In this video we got good looks at what is believed to be animals from the Eastern tropical Pacific. That said, orca classification is up for grabs right now as there are at least 10 ecotypes proposed, with little settled about that in the scientific literature. These animals are matriarchal in their social structure and very long-lived. While we don't see them on every Searcher trip, we did see a small pod on the first 2020 trip, thanks to the sharp-eyed Marc Webber, who is a very seasoned Searcher naturalist and renowned pinniped expert. -Paul Jonesature. The killer whales seen last year were actively feeding on manta rays (something similar to the shark eaters in the "offshore" ecotype off British Columbia). I'll post a video clip from that 2019 sighting soon. These animals are matriarchal in their social structure and very long-lived. While we don't see them on every Searcher trip, we did see a small pod on the first 2020 trip, thanks to the sharp-eyed Marc Webber, who is a very seasoned Searcher naturalist and renowned pinniped expert.

Happy #Earth day! We are so grateful for the earth and all its creatures. “Look deep into nature, and then you will unde...
04/22/2020

Happy #Earth day! We are so grateful for the earth and all its creatures. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” —Albert Einstein⁣

Happy Mystery Monday! We decided it would be fun to play a little game.⁠⁠Can you guess what animal this is? 🐋This photo ...
04/20/2020

Happy Mystery Monday! We decided it would be fun to play a little game.⁠

Can you guess what animal this is? 🐋This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We will tell you the answer on Friday so stay tuned.🐋⁠

📸by Team Searcher.

04/17/2020
Mystery Monday Challenge Answer

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠ Mobulas!

🎥 by Paul A. Jones

Sightings of mobula rays on Searcher trips elicit either guffaws or gasps. We see them leaping high into the air, doing belly flops or back flips - which score the laughter. Or, on more rare occasions as in this video clip, they can be seen coming up into Searcher's deck lights from the inky black to feed on zooplankton in large schools - which evoke the sounds of awe.

The most common species in the Gulf of California is the smoothtail (or bentfin) mobula, which grows up to about 6 feet across. Mostly the males do the jumping, but females get into the "fun" also. While scientists don't know for sure why they leap like they do, it's starting to emerge that it's part of their courtship ritual, but parasite removal and communication have also been suggested as possible explanations (all three of which are also why whales breach).

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠⁠Can you guess this animal? 🐋This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We will tell you th...
04/13/2020

Happy Mystery Monday!⁠

Can you guess this animal? 🐋This photo was taken on one of our trips in Baja. We will tell you the answer on Friday, so stay tuned.🐋⁠

📸by Peter Dunn.

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠⁠Male Elephant Seal⁠📷 by Marc W.⁠This mystery monster uses its huge eyes to peer...
04/10/2020

Mystery Monday revealed! The answer is:⁠

Male Elephant Seal⁠

📷 by Marc W.

This mystery monster uses its huge eyes to peer into the inky darkness looking for food down to more than 5000’. The northern elephant seal migrates from Isla San Benito in Baja to feeding areas off Oregon, Washington, and Canada. Males, like this youngster, ply the Pacific Ocean waters as far west as the dateline. They also make the this migration twice a year: once for mating and giving birth to their pups and once for molting their fur. They deserve our utmost respect. -Paul A. Jones⁠

Northern elephant seals are extraordinary travelers and divers. They make two migrations a year, traveling thousands of miles on each trip, between their breeding colony and their feeding areas far to the north and west in waters from Oregon to the Gulf of Alaska and as far across the Pacific as the longitude of Hawaii. While at sea they routinely dive for 23 minutes dive after dive, day after day with almost no breaks, can reach depths of over 6,000' in search of food, and when pressed can hold their breath for up to 2 hours! While they can look slow and are often inactive when ashore, they are some of the most remarkable travelers and divers in the marine mammal world. West San Benito island. -Marc Webber ⁠

https://www.bajawhale.com/rob-servations/rob-servations-11-northern-elephant-seal/

Address

2838 Garrison St
San Diego, CA
92106

Telephone

(619) 226-2403

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Comments

Thoroughly enjoyed my first (but not last!) Pelagic trip on the Searcher! It was a great week!
Hot off the easel, here's a painting inspired by our recent trip on The Searcher. one memorable laye afternoon in the Sea of Cortez off the coast at Bahia Agua Verde we were surrounded by about 15 Blue whales, some lunge-feeding right next to the boat. (Acrylic on paper, 30cm x 45cm). A fantastic trip all round - thanks guys!!!
Thank you, Art, Marc, Chris, Andrew, and the entire crew of The Searcher for an unforgettable, spectacular trip that will be with me forever. Thank you for the experience of a lifetime and for all you do and did to make that possible. Best wishes as you embark on the last trip of the season! ❤️❤️❤️ I still cannot believe I was part of this incredible journey just a few days ago! Best to all of you and many thanks!