I get excited every time we talk about Sailfish, not only by the nature of the sailfish activity being away from the civilization but also the way this refined fish hunts is impressive.
Our journey starts early in the morning while our staff prepares the gear and makes the final check on the boat. We are all set, fuel at full capacity, ice and snacks on board. It is 7:30 am and the tension is high while we receive the first clients, some of them are old friends, some are new folks. We try on the gear and we start to settled up and prepare for the briefing. Then questions start to arise: Do you think we will be spot sailfish today? How is weather like? Are they far away from the island?
HOW EASY IS TO SWIM WITH SAILFISH?
Well, it is complicated to spot sailfish because it is a mixture of different factors that allow us to swim with them. Weather is the most important one! Once we continue with the briefing everyone starts to get a clear idea that we all have the same goal in mind, to spot sailfish in the open sea and have a great time.
At 8:15 we are leaving the dock with our adventurers. There are at least 30 miles ahead of us before we can see some signs of action on the vast ocean. After 2 hours the first groups of birds start to come together in the sky in the north-east. Keeping an eye on the birds, the captain maneuvers his way towards them, it looks promising. While traveling fast and getting closer to the action we realize it was a family of dolphins going after some baitfish, we start to take pictures of the dolphins while observing other areas on the horizon, seeking out the signs of sailfish. The moral is high as we realize we are in the sweet spot and the show can start at anytime.
Standing still for few minutes we scan the horizon with our binoculars and bingo! Another 4 miles ahead it looks like birds just started to dive down rushing in to the water. We get ready, gearing up. we approach what at first seems to be again dolphins but as we get closer the vibrant dorsal fin of a sailfish sticks out of the water for few seconds while a couple of birds follow above very closely. Confirmed by the crew it is sailfish! They have begun just herd and corral a group of sardines underneath the boat The sardines desperately try to find a way out, bouncing back and forward but the sailfish in the area are too many and too well organized for the sardines to escape now.
READY TO SWIM WITH SAILFISH?
We get into the water and start to approach them closely. They are aware of our presence but don’t feel threatened. We are just another fish in the sea trying to get some bait. The sailfish speed up and control the sardines with the tip of their spears working as a team, injuring them and eating them in just few seconds. The sardines try to swim away, they near the surface and are bombarded by birds that dive into the water like torpedos. The sardine groups spread out to avoid the bird dives, making them easy prey for sailfish. So one after another, the bait-ball created by the stressed sardines gets smaller and smaller until only an handful sardines are left and sailfish start to leave and dive back down into the depths.
Less than 30 minutes have passed and we just observed one of the biggest hunting shows in the ocean. Sporadic appearances of sailfish and sardines are incredible events in nature not easily observable anywhere else in the world. After a few more encounters with sailfish, is time to start our long journey back home. We are 42 miles out now and it will take us about 2 hours to get back to Isla Mujeres. On board we all agree, it was worth it.