There is a predictable procession of dawn movement in Isla de Magdalena. Shortly after the earliest risers on National Geographic Venture fill coffee mugs and make their way to the bow to watch the sunrise, pelicans, cormorants, and gulls are already on the move. From the southern part of the bay, we watched pearls of birds moving purposefully towards their morning feeding areas. We watched from our anchorage at Man of War Dove, due south of Sand Dollar Beach.

Following breakfast, Zodiacs shuttled staff to the western side of the barrier island that makes up the west side of Magdalena Bay. Shallow, sandy waters gave way to a steep beach made up of countless shells, showcasing the regions amazing diversity that John Steinbeck wrote about in his journals from the region. Groups split into hikes with different intentions; mangroves, coyotes, creeping devil cactus, peregrine falcons, and beachcombing brought out the explorers and wonderers in all of us.

During lunch, we were briefly escorted by a gray whale. We passed this animal and cut through La Entrada, our portal into the Pacific. Once out of the protected waters more favored by gray whales, we confronted numbers of another baleen whale: the humpback whale. Known for being showy, we watched individuals and pairs pectoral slapping, tail slapping, and breaching both near National Geographic Venture and at the edge of the horizon. This is a known area for breeding rituals and behaviors of these animals. With more humpbacks sure to be on the other side of the peninsula, we eventually set a course eastbound for the Gulf of California.