Luck and lots of patience seem to be on our side today. After we waited for over twenty minutes to re-sight a distant spout, none other than a sperm whale returned from a dive.

Largest of the toothed whales, these massive animals are built for diving. After a dive, they may spend a considerable time at the surface, recharging their forty- to fifty-ton bodies with oxygen.

Not much other vegetation, besides a few cacti, survives in this harsh environment. California sea lions also frolicked and lounged in the area, awaiting the coming breeding season, when the males will be more aggressive and territorial.

We encountered this individual, one of three, just west of Isla Santa Cruz, in an area of 3,000-foot-deep seas.