Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja - Carlos Navarro, naturalist

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From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja

Jan 10, 2013 - National Geographic Sea Bird

Young California sea lion watching snorkelers
Brandt's cormorant diving for fish at Los Islotes

Los Islotes and Ensenada Grande

We started the last day of our expedition in the Sea of Cortez in a great way, watching the sun rising over the open ocean; the beautiful clear sky heralded magnificent new opportunities to enjoy and admire. The National Geographic Sea Bird anchored at Los Islotes, a couple of small islets where a number of marine birds and other creatures congregate, most notoriously California sea lions. We explored the area with our Zodiacs and the photographers on board got plenty of chances to make good use of their cameras, lenses, and newly-acquired knowledge, emptying many memory cards. Blue-footed and brown boobies, yellow-footed gulls, brown pelicans, and cormorants flew all around the islets, whereas the sea lions cavorted around the boats or simply rested on the rocks. We also got into the water and snorkeled with them, watching in awe as the cormorants chased the innumerable sardines that completely covered the area, preventing us from seeing the bottom below. It was simply mesmerizing to watch as the schooling fish moved back and forth, opening and closing holes as the swimming birds darted around. Pelicans gave us a great show with their spectacular plunge-diving and the sea lions swam among us and “played chicken” with the occasional snorkeler.

After having spent a wonderful morning at Los Islotes, we went to Ensenada Grande, a beautiful bay located on the north-western side of Isla Partida Norte, where we engaged into some more snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking. Los Islotes and Ensenada Grande are part of the Espiritu Santo Island-complex Biosphere Reserve and today we fully understood why this area is worth the protection that is getting; the abundance of life that we experienced here speaks volumes of the benefits of setting aside from exploitation wild places like this, and it made for a perfect ending of our expedition.

About the Author

Carlos Navarro·Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, has a M.Sc. in environmental management and is also a freelance wildlife photographer/author.  Carlos has spent most of the last 25 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez, except during periods when he has conducted research on crocodiles and jaguars on the Yucatan Peninsula.  He has participated in numerous scientific research, conservation and environmental education projects throughout Mexico, ranging from some of the first population studies of the vaquita, an endemic porpoise and the world's most endangered cetacean, to collecting data on marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks and baleen whales in the gulf or gathering information about jaguars and crocodiles along the Caribbean coast.