Sailfish in Isla Mujeres, Day 2


Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans) with a sardine in its mouth.
We left dock at 6am this morning in search of more sailfish. The sun broke through for half an hour on our way offshore, which was fantastic -- until she was swallowed up by a sky full of clouds. As Anthony so cheerfully exclaimed yesterday, "Come to Mexico! Bring a snow jacket!"

That sounds extreme, but it has actually been quite cold for a tropical beach destination. On the water, we're wearing big boat jackets to keep warm. In the water, we're wearing 3mm wetsuits, and I even put on a hooded vest after I started shivering.


Crop of first photo. It's amazing how precise sailfish are when they hunt.

All of this would have been much different if the sun had been out! We've been hoping for the perfect combination of wildlife, water clarity and sunlight, but we've only been able to get two of the three during any given jump. The water had less sediment in it today but was considerably more murky, and the sun didn't come out until the sailfish disappeared.

Still, we had fantastic action and managed to come back with some decent images. Most of the bait balls today were large and fast (usually correlated), and due to his quads of steel, only Tony was able to keep up with the moving fish for long periods of time; Sterling and I used the boat to keep up -- luckily, Rogerio and Juan are incredible and gave us perfect drops every time.

In the following video, you'll see one of the medium-sized balls followed by a short clip of Tony trying to get a tiny bait ball away from him. When a sardine ball gets small enough, one or more individuals will usually decide that it is safer with you than it is out in the blue. Unfortunately, dozens of spear-wielding fish cruising around makes having a little cute sardine friend tucked under your arm not so ideal. In the video, the sardines are nailed as soon as Tony manages to convince them to get away from him.


Watch Tony try to get a tiny bait ball away from him. It's funny. :)


Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans) chase a medium-sized baitball. Isla Mujeres, Mexico.


An Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans) drives
a school of sardines up to the surface


A baitball of sardines runs frantically in an attempt to avoid predation by sailfish


This sure doesn't look like a pelagic crab! We're 30 miles offshore. Poor thing!

I can't believe it's only day 2. We've already seen so much; even if we get skunked for the remaining 6 days on the water, I'll consider the trip to be a success.

Tony has also written a day 2 report.