Boca de Soledad, Hull Canal, Sand Dollar Beach, 3/3/2022, National Geographic Sea Bird
National Geographic Sea Bird
We awoke to a thick fog that did not burn off until late morning when we returned to the ship, which made finding gray whales particularly challenging today. Persistence and good local knowledge from our panga drivers paid off, however. We finally found some whales far out in the Soledad (solitude) where the sea breaks its back on the shallow, sandy bottom of the Boca (mouth/entrance to the bay).
After lunch, we made our way south through the narrow and shallow Hull Canal. With the help of a local pilot driver, we made it to our afternoon destination at Sand Dollar Beach. This is the narrowest part of the barrier island Isla Magdalena. We walked across some barchan sand dunes to access Bahia Santa Maria, a beautiful beach on the Pacific Ocean side of Baja California.
John’s passion is lifelong learning and sharing what he learns about the natural world with explorers young and old. He grew up in rural Ohio and graduated from Marietta College with a BA in Recreation Management. Wanderlust hit when John decided t...
As the sun rose, the hills of Isla Santa Margarita lit up to wake us to our first day in Bahia Magdalena. We had lots of firsts today, as we got to meet our panga drivers and head out to explore the area. Today’s focus was Bahia Almejas, the social center of gray whale hangouts at this time of year. And the whales certainly didn’t disappoint. We had lots of encounters with ‘friendly whales’ coming right up to the pangas and allowing us to touch them. As if that wasn’t enough, there was all sorts of activity like whales breaching, spyhopping, and even some mating! Naturally, one of the highlights was getting whale snot blown all over us! We split into two groups for whale watching. The group that wasn’t on the pangas learned how to improve photographic composition using iPhones from Gemina Garland-Lewis, certified photo instructor for the trip. We went out for a couple hours in the morning and afternoon, passing a spit covered in double-crested cormorants and brown pelicans each time. On the way back to National Geographic Sea Bird , we had a treat and saw a lone bald eagle that had clearly been hunting amongst the cormorants. The day wasn’t quite done. After a delicious dinner that included the popular chocolate decadence, Kylee Walterman educated us with a presentation on gray whales. Everyone had the opportunity to touch whale lice if they so wished!
Light winds and cloudy skies made for a moody morning just south of Boca de Soledad. In the distance, pangas with local captains approached National Geographic Sea Bird as we got ready to go whale watching for the last time on this trip. We headed to Boca de Soledad at the north end of Isla Magdalena, about ten miles from the ship. There was a lot of anticipation. As we made it to la Boca, we could feel the power of the Pacific Ocean as the pangas navigated through the swell. We followed the whales into the open ocean as they opposed the current of the incoming tide. After getting back to National Geographic Sea Bird , we lifted the anchor and headed south through Canal de Soledad, a narrow channel that has a reputation for scraping the bottom of small ships. As we navigated, we spotted a few whales and closely observed birds as the channel narrowed. While transiting, we had the opportunity to listen to talented naturalist Sharon Grainger as she enlightened us on the history of chocolate. When her presentation ended, we heard the anchor drop. We had reached our destination for the afternoon just offshore of Sand Dollar Beach. We spent the afternoon exploring the sand dunes at Sand Dollar Beach, and a few guests gave the fat tire bikes a try. They rode along the intertidal shoreline where the wet sand was compacted enough to allow them to go for a ride. After spending a couple of hours exploring the sand dunes and the beach, we headed back to the ship for our final recap, cocktail hour, and a delicious dinner. After dinner, we enjoyed a slideshow composed of images contributed by our guests. Everyone was amazed and touched by the memories we created together. What a wonderful way to end an outstanding trip.
Today we woke to a beautiful sunrise and clear, glassy waters. Just as we were heading into breakfast, pilot Sergio Camancho drove up in his panga to join National Geographic Sea Bird to guide us through the shallow waters of Canal de Soledad. We saw incredible reflections in the water, and dolphins came to bow ride. We even got to see a bald eagle perched in the mangroves! Once we passed through the narrowest part of our transit, we started to see pairs of gray whale mothers and calves swimming alongside us. After lunch, we got to get out on the water in pangas and get even closer looks at these amazing animals. Those who weren’t whale watching were on nearby Isla Magdalena, exploring the incredible sand dunes. We all joined together again for a beach barbecue at sunset, complete with s’mores and the music of the fantastic Los Coyotes, local musicians from Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos. What a day!