This whale watching captain is here to stay

The happy crew of Cabo ExpeditionsI am the second oldest person here. And I’m actually proud of that. Imagine, I’ve been with Cabo Expeditions for 16 years now!

I guess that makes me the happiest person here, too. If there’s one thing that makes Cabo Expeditions one of the best companies in Los Cabos, it’s the fact that they take their employees’ happiness seriously. I’ve known that the longest. In every day of my stay here.

Zodiac whale Watching AdventureCabo Expeditions whale watching tourToday, I set off to sea as boat captain of Cabo Expeditions’ whale watching tour. It’s what I’ve been doing since I left Acapulco to work here. And it never grows old. Not one tour is ever the same. Except that it always ends in happiness. Nothing compares to the genuine thrill of seeing mother whales and baby whales playing in the water. It’s always fulfilling to see how the guests enjoy watching them and telling me that they would love to come back.

David and Goliath: The small Zodiac boat and the massive cruise shipYou see, Cabo Expeditions does whale watching very differently. The tours are well-prepared, very organized. And conservation is indeed given top priority. Some whale watching tours in the bay use bigger boats and come closer than 260 feet (80 meters) to the whales. The roar of the big boats’ engines drives the whales away. That’s very disrespectful. But because our boats are smaller, we have better chances of seeing the whales up close–especially when they decide to come to us! It’s no wonder some of our most loyal guests have been coming back to Cabo Expeditions every year, for 10 years now.

Conoce BCS ConferenceAnother thing I like about Cabo Expeditions is that it keeps me inspired to learn. You’re never too old to learn. Up to now, I still read books and research on the internet about new information on humpback whales. In fact, after today’s tour, I’ll share what I’ve learned with my fellow captains. We like that. We do a course at the start of each season every year to share information with each other. In 1999/2000, we even went to a lecture on whales conducted by the Sea World of San Diego.

New knowledge, new experiences, new friends–there’s always a new reason for me to stay here at Cabo Expeditions. To me, it’s not work. It’s home. And that’s why this old boat captain is here for life.

I Swim With The Gentle Giants

Beto doing an orientation on the whale shark tourI’ve been told that I have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. I’m a Cabo Expeditions guide. And I swim with whale sharks.

Exciting? Yes. But dangerous? Not at all.

These whale sharks may look scary at 30-feet long, but they’re actually gentle giants. You see, every week I do online research on these beautiful creatures to prepare for a new tour. That’s how I learned that they’re filter feeders. So swimming near them poses no risk to divers or snorkelers.

whale shark coupleI remember once taking a young group on our Swimming with Whale Sharks tour. I was up by 6:00 a.m., like I usually am on a whale shark day. But they were up even earlier. They were too excited! Good thing we immediately saw two whale sharks when we reached the observation area. One was 9-feet long, the other was a full 20-footer. I jumped in and showed them how to approach these docile creatures. That moment for them was unforgettable. They said it was their first time to swim with anything that big and that peaceful!

An older woman on the tour said swimming with the whale sharks was on her bucket list. She was almost teary-eyed when she thanked me for finally making a huge dream come true.

underwater school busBut sometimes, things don’t work out as planner. On one tour, I readied the equipment the day before as always, we set sail at our usual time, but after circling for an hour —we still hadn’t spotted anything. That’s how it is when tours happen in the wild. Our tours are right in the whale sharks’ natural habitat. But, even during the best season, it’s still the whale sharks’ decision whether they want to make an appearance or not.

Everyone on the boat was starting to get frustrated. I was disappointed myself. As a guide, I always want my guests to come home with an amazing whale shark story to tell their friends and families. But it looked like that wasn’t happening that day.

peek-a-boo whale sharkAnd that was when three gigantic whale sharks popped out of the water! The captain immediately stopped the boat and we got ready to swim with them. Later on, the guests said those 40 minutes in the water —alongside the biggest fish in the world— had been absolutely magical. It’s true. I do this all the time and it still amazes me!

I guess that’s the exciting part about my job. Sharing my whale shark experience with the guests and seeing their own experience move them. I do what I love doing, and I love sharing it with others. Up to now, I keep in touch with some of them through Facebook or by email. As soon as they ask when the next whale shark tour is going to be, I know I’ve done a good job.

Our Different Kind Of Beach Bonding

Priscila with daughter, Jessica, at Cabo Expeditions' 5th Beach CleanupWhen you talk about family and bonding, you don’t usually think ‘Hey, let’s preserve the vast gifts of nature today!’, do you? Well, when you’re with Cabo Expeditions, you do.

For 3 years now, Cabo Expeditions’ conservation mission has covered beach and underwater cleanups. I’ve never missed a single one. Neither have my children. It’s funny that back in 2009, I had to drag Jessica and Andre to the first beach cleanup. They thought, ‘How dirty can a beach get?’ Boy, were they surprised! After seeing litter upon litter on what used to be a lovely beach, now they don’t need to be asked twice.

Priscila bonding with kids while helping clean up a beachLast May marked our returned to Playa Empacadora—one of the most popular beaches in Los Cabos, Mexico—which unfortunately meant it was one of those that accumulate the most garbage, too. My children and I, along with a hundred more participants, spent 2 hours of 4 days picking up cigarette butts, beer cans, and tissue paper off the shore. We collected a grand total of 1.5 tons of trash—mostly beer cans. Can you believe that?!

My kids, who have long gotten into the spirit of conservation, are pretty proud of themselves knowing that the busiest beaches in the Sea of Cortez is now also one of the cleanest. With the whole clean up team, we vowed to cover a wider area soon so that all beaches are swept free of debris and brought back to their gloriously pristine state.

Tiny tot doing his share to help the environmentThe highlight after all our hard work was the Cabo Submarine eco-adventure. All of the participants were treated to Cabo Submarine’s one-hour journey up close and personal with Cabo’s abundant marine life. Jessica and Andre were thrilled to get the special underwater treatment. They felt like tourists! Perfect way to cap a well-spent day and reward a job well done.

That’s how I help in our conservation mission, one beach at a time. And how I bond with my kids and teach them a valuable lesson in nature care, all at the same time.

So, how did you spend quality time with your kids today?