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January 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 35, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Quino del Guardián, Sea of Cortés, Mexico

great diving, but next time a better boat

from the January, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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The Sea of Cortés is so isolated that many of its species are endemic. It is rich with life, with mollusk shells covering much of the sand, and the water is often so filled with juvenile fishes that they occlude the visibility. Diving its waters is like nothing else, with conditions ranging from high current, temperature swings and low visibility to crystal clarity and animals ranging from sea lions, unique jawfish, and rays, to whale sharks and sperm whales. In the fall, sister liveaboards the Quino del Guardián and Rocio Del Mar offer voyages along the entire length of the Sea. The landscape of Baja California is dazzling, starkly majestic, a reminder that there are still wild areas on our planet.

Quino del Guardián - Mexico liveaboardI spent 13 days aboard the Quino del Guardián, a 90-foot converted scallop fishing boat (the sibling of Rocio Del Mar), named for the owner's grandson Joaquin. Like every sibling, these vessels are clearly related but not the same. Having been on both, I know they have fantastic service, great food, and exciting diving. But Quino lacks its sibling's comforts. Living on it is more like camping than having the more upscale experience of Rocio. As one blunt New Yorker on my Explore Baja trip put it, "great service, great food, fun diving, but the boat sucks." More about that later.

The first dive after departing Puerto Penasco, in the northern end, was Lolo's Cove, a murky site in the Midriff Islands that gave divers the chance to check their gear and weights. The water is more saline than most places, so I added a pound to compensate. Despite low visibility, I saw blue spotted jawfish popping up and down, Mexican hogfish, and Cortés angelfish. The other sites were more scenic. La Muela and Touched by an Angel had huge boulders with rubble and sand bottoms; photographers went nuts filming orange-throated pike blennies, cartoonish giant jawfish peering from their burrows, and dancing nuptial male blue spotted jawfish. I delighted in endemic fishes like Cortés and King angels, leopard grouper, and the abundant barberfish, members of the butterflyfish family....

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