Bahia Conception

Mar 31, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

And then, and then and then, is the best way to describe today. There is something special about the full moon. The entire day and night have a special quality. It feels like something magical is waiting to appear. A big beautiful full moon set as the sun rose to begin our day. The dining room doors had not yet opened for breakfast when the call rang out that bottlenose dolphins were bow riding our ship. Sleek dark arcs sliced the water headed toward the National Geographic Sea Lion. Some dolphins rode the bow while others swam the wake with frequent jumps and turns. The sun was up and the air was still. Just enough air moved to keep us comfortable. The day promised to be a hot one, and then… kayaks, paddleboards, snorkeling, swimming options awaited us on the sandy beach of Bahia coyote. Small fishes darted around our feet while paddle boarders rounded the island to find an osprey nest with chicks peaking over the brim. Meanwhile two rounds of zodiac cruises allowed everyone to enjoy osprey and oystercatchers from the water and then… a call came over the radio. Seems a calm whale shark had been found in the shallow waters of the inlet behind our island. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea. We all made our way over to the inlet and reveled in our numerous and close encounters with these magnificent, graceful beings that feed on plankton as they swim. They are massive gray and white spotted filter feeders. This one was approximately 25 feet long, small in comparison with the full grown, 60-foot-long relatives but plenty big for us. And then our luck held and we saw a shadow ahead of us. There in the aqua blue water was a young whale shark. This one stayed with us, coming up to the surface then diving down and coming along side us again. Its face had many more white dots than the larger one had and it was only as long as our Zodiac. They were so huge and so peaceful. It was only lunchtime.

So many photographs have been taken on this trip. After lunch Ralph Lee Hopkins and Michael Nolan organized a laptop gallery. Photo enthusiasts put together short slides shows of their images and joined their fellow travelers in the lounge where the laptops displayed their work. Stunning images and video shorts reminded us of the spectacular trip we have enjoyed. And then, pelicans and terns dove head first into the water in a feeding frenzy. Heermanns gulls hounded the pelicans for their catch as soon as they surfaced and pounced upon the terns if the tern didn’t get into the air quickly. A sweet breeze kept the front deck cool and then, Rich Kirchner spotted a whale frolicking at the surface. For the next 3 hours we delighted in the antics of this humpback. It had some Sargassom seaweed that it rolled over its body and tossed around with its mighty tail. It rolled, fluked, tossed its tail to the side. And then, yep, it breached!

Dinner was delayed while we watched this entertainer breach twice more to our squeals and clicking of cameras by all of us.

Dinner was served and then Michael Nolan gave a presentation about other travel opportunities and destinations. The moon was up, the day was done and happy, whale weary guests and staff made their way to their beds to await tomorrows adventures.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee


For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

About the Photographer

Rich Kirchner

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Rich Kirchner has worked as a naturalist in Antarctica, Alaska, the Bering Sea, Baja and the High Arctic, including Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Iceland. His 25 years as a professional wildlife photographer has granted him international publication credits included in magazines such as Geo Germany, Geo France, Natural History, Audubon, National Wildlife and Ranger Rick, as well as more than a hundred books.

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