Today we traveled through Hull Canal, a shallow passage with mangrove forests and dune ecosystems on both sides. This passage is located between the southern part of Bahia Magdalena and the northern area known as Boca de Soledad. Lagoons are created by barrier islands. A local pilot navigated the thin, challenging channel, making it a truly special area to travel. Our naturalists hung out on the ship’s bow, pointing out various bird species and encouraging guests to look over the side to see bow-riding bottlenose dolphins. After lunch, we explored a very narrow part of Bahia Magdalena via pangas operated by local fishermen. This part of the bay is an incredible nursery ground for gray whale mother and calf pairs. The babies fatten up on their mother’s milk as they exercise in the currents and prepare for the long migration back to the feeding grounds of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. We were treated to an awe-inspiring experience as these curious calves swam under our pangas and attempted to nurse, which included rolling around and bringing their cute, barnacle-free heads out of the water. We were lucky enough to observe multiple pairs and lots of activity. Thanks to low tides in the afternoon, we cruised close to shore on the way back to the ship, photographing herons, ibises, willets, and even a few howling coyotes. After warming up on the ship, we all met in the lounge for a Mexican fiesta and danced to a performance by local musicians, Los Coyotes.
National Geographic Venture
Today we woke up to a beautiful sunrise! The swell was looking a little big, but once we made it to Isla San Benito Oeste, we were able to tuck away from it and get some beautiful weather. The beach landing was at the base of a small fishing village with lots of interesting little houses and a chapel. This is definitely a secluded island. Some of us completed a long hike to the peak of the island at a 660-foot elevation. Others took it slow and hung around the elephant seal haul out. The females had young pups nursing, and the rest were napping with the occasional argument taking place. Along the trail, we managed to see Cassin's auklet burrows everywhere! We also observed some human-made burrows for the auklets that were placed for nest monitoring. After the hike, we went on a Zodiac tour of the island and managed to see all four pinniped species found in Mexico: elephant seal, harbor seal, Guadalupe fur seal, and the California sea lion. What a treat! We also saw blue herons, black turnstones, terns, and two species of cormorants, brants and double-crested. The geology of the coastline was beautiful. After our morning of activities, we returned to the ship for lunch and started on our way to Magdalena Bay. While we cruised, we enjoyed two talks, one on whales and one on camera composition. After dinner, there was a watercolor activity where we painted whale tails.