Bahia Magdalena

Feb 02, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird

Today began with an early wake-up call to go out and spend some quality time with the gray whales of Magdalena Bay. In the rosy glow of pre-dawn, we ventured out on expedition landing craft to see if we could connect with our cetacean friends. We were not disappointed. Several adult females with calves allowed us to approach closely. At close range, we were able to observe interesting behaviors in these animals and even touch them at times. It was a truly magical experience. The first half of our day was spent out on the water with whales and relaxing aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird.

Following an excellent lunch, we pulled anchor and headed south through Hull Canal. Along the way, we got more looks at the birdlife of the area. Brown pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, double-crested cormorants, and royal terns were some of the highlights.

We anchored along a narrow, sandy section of Magdalena Island in the afternoon. There, we were shuttled ashore for some time for personal exploration. This part of the island is a vast landscape of gorgeous dunes. Most of us took off our shoes and made the journey through soft sand to the far side of the island—the side facing the Pacific Ocean. The beach there I called Sand Dollar Beach and it is aptly named. It goes on for miles to the north and south and is littered with sand dollars and other fascinating flotsam from the sea.

What a wonderful last full day aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird!

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About the Author

Ivan Phillipsen


Ivan is a passionate naturalist with a background in scientific research. He has participated in studies of a diverse assortment of organisms: aspen trees, cactus wrens, aquatic snails, frogs, and beetles. He holds a M.S. in biology from Cal State San Bernardino and a Ph.D. in zoology from Oregon State University. The population genetics of freshwater animals was his area of focus. He has published a series of papers on the evolutionary biology of amphibians and aquatic insects. Ivan’s scientific work invariably involved backpacking into remote wilderness areas to find his secretive research subjects in their natural habitats.

About the Videographer

James Napoli

Video Chronicler

Jim was born in rural New England where he quickly developed an appreciation for the outdoors and a love of exploration.  Four years with the U.S. Navy further enhanced his appetite for travel. Always interested in the visual arts, he studied Television at Boston University and Northeast College of Communications, landing his first job in the industry working as an editor at a Boston television station. His wanderlust drew him to a job with two major cruise lines; installing and managing broadcast centers onboard a total of over a dozen ships. He has since moved on to specialize in expedition travel and wildlife productions.  

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