“World´s Aquarium”, as Jacques Cousteau called to the Sea of Cortez, is home of 40 percent of the world’s marine mammals.
In each place, there is a legend. The fishermen of Baja California Sur feared the Devil Fish, as they called the whales for their aggressiveness. Between fishermen and whales, one always lost the battle.
It is said that Pachico Mayoral, a local fisherman, was in the lagoon when his boat approached to a grey whale. He tried to get away, but his efforts did not work. To his surprise, Devil Fish did not assault him. Pachico put his hand over the whale. That afternoon of 1972 was born the legend of Pachico and a new relationship between human being and whales.
After his encounter with devil fish, he created the organization Pachico’s Eco Tours, taking hundreds of tourists to see whales. Pachico’s experience gave rise to a new wave of locals who, like him, stopped fishing and became spokesman who defended the natural sites of Baja California Sur.
For years I have photographed life on earth, so when I had the opportunity to portray life at sea, I accepted. It required high tech photographic equipment, a person to take me to the exact place and a correct understanding about conservation rules.
I decided to photograph life in San Jose del Cabo because this city has become one of the most fun and cultural places in Baja California Sur, with galleries, restaurants and handicrafts. Here the people are warm, like Benito Molina, chef of La Revolución, a diner that offers local gastronomy in downtown San Jose. Molina also owns the Manzanilla restaurant in Ensenada, which won the San Pellegrino award for the 50 best restaurants in Latin America.
The Merkado, located five minutes from San Jose and 15 from Cabo San Lucas, has many gastronomic options: sushi, pancakes, hot dogs, oysters, ice cream, ribs and salads.
After dinner, I went to Mixiology Fusion Bar, which is located in downtown San Jose. It only opens Thursdays and Saturdays and they have a great variety of cocktails. To enter you have to give a password that changes every week and have great exponents of music, mostly House.
The next morning, I went to the ocean in Cabo San Lucas. I wanted to photograph sunsets, contrasts of nature and a night of celebration. The contrasts between sea and desert are images difficult to forget. It seems that the days are longer in front of the sea.
Photography requires concentration and a lot of patience, but under the sea all rules are maximized. A former fisherman – as Pachico was – offered to take me into the search of a Devil Fish: The Rhinoceros Typus or whale shark.
When I was completely immersed under the sea a whale shark approached my feet, giving me a warm welcome to its territory. I forgot the sounds around me, even those that produced my air bubbles as I breathed through the snorkel. I kicked as fast as I could and took pictures, but I lost the whale shark among the shadows.
I had read that the whale shark is the largest fish (up to 18 meters), but having it just in front of me was so surprising. “We’ll find more,” the captain told me.
In less than ten minutes we saw another. I went back to the water as fast as I could and saw a whale shark, floating in a vertical position and spinning on its own axis while feeding. The rays of the sun penetrated the water. It was an impressive scene.
That afternoon I understood why Jacques Cousteau named the Sea of Cortez as “ World´s Aquarium”.
Baja California Sur has 244 islands that are a World Heritage Site. There are also traces of our ancestors in rock paintings, magnificent sunsets, coastlines, corals and a beautiful church created by Gustave Eiffel.
We left the sea just in time to see a red sunset with purple tones that contrasted with the sand that covered my feet. “These beaches will always welcome you with some surprise,” I thought.
This text is a collaboration between VICE and Los Cabos.