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At Sea, Magdalena Bay and Hull Canal

Feb 15, 2017 - National Geographic Sea Bird

Long Pacific Ocean swells woke us and soon we were in sight of Isla Santa Margarita, the mountainous southern boundary island that encloses part of the great expanse of Bahia Magdalena.  Once near La Entrada, the puffy blows and pale gray backs of California gray whales began to appear in ones, twos and occasionally threes. We often think of the waters near the entrance as the singles bar, as mostly adult whales ready to reproduce come into this area. After Octavio talked about the whales of Baja California, our local pilots came aboard and we continued northbound toward the nursery region of the bay.

The channel narrows and becomes shallow and lined by mangroves, those fascinating highly adapted plants that guard our coastlines, provide habitat for birds and juvenile fish, create land, and thrive with their roots in salt water. All the species of mangroves have some way to exclude, exude or extrude salt from their systems. Here they are near the northern extent of their range.

At last we rounded the final curve of Devil’s Bend, passed Colina Coyote Hill, and found ourselves surrounded by California gray whale mother and calf pairs. At this point in the season, most of the calves are about a month old. We’ll spend nearly the next two days with these gentle giants and hope to have some close looks from our small boats. The late afternoon was an exploration of the dunes and the intertidal edges that shape the north end of Magdalena Island. 

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About the Author

  • Bette Lu Krause Naturalist

    Bette Lu's adventurous spirit has taken her around the world by sea — those adventures include tramping about the oceans on old break-bulk freighters, navigating the South Pacific Ocean and on to Antarctica on research vessels as well as several seasons in the Alaskan arctic dodging icebergs in the Beaufort Sea.