San Esteban Island & Rasa Island

Apr 10, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird

For this morning, we arranged an early sunrise party to San Esteban Island, which lies in the Midriff area of the Gulf of California. Facing southeast, the wide Arroyo Limantour is the best location to contemplate the sun rising over the mainland of Mexico. After breakfast, our guest and naturalists walked on the arroyo in search of the “pinto” or piebald chuckwalla, an endemic, “gigantic” version of the normal, mainland form of this lizard, and the spiny-tailed iguana, which constitute another endemic species. These iguanas climb up to the tops of cardon cacti to get the nutritious flowers and fruits. San Esteban has long been a very isolated island, and many of its reptiles and cacti are unique. Therefore it is regarded a “laboratory of evolution” by biologists. The waters around, though cold and with complicated currents, shelter a great diversity of marine wildlife too, so our expedition diver Maya ventured in the sea and captured this biodiversity with a submersible video camera. At noon, the National Geographic Sea Bird sailed north for the afternoon activities, and we encountered bottle-nosed and long-beaked common dolphins in the way. We anchored at Rasa, a little island that is the colonial breeding site for elegant and royal terns and Heermann’s gulls, and made cruises around it on the expedition landing craft. During these, guests and staff were enchanted with the number of nesting seabirds and their vocalizations (that filled the air and our ears with metal-like and laughing-like sounds). Dr. Enriqueta Velarde (a leading researcher and ornithologist of Rasa) joined us for dinner and made a presentation of her work on the island. We learnt a lot today and had a lot of fun!

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About the Author

Adrian Cerda


Adrian studied biology at the national Autonomous University of Mexico. In 1991 the Wildlife Preservation Trust of Jersey, on Britain's Channel Islands, awarded Adrian with a scholarship to its prestigious 16-week training program in Captive Management and Breeding of Endangered Species. This pioneering course of study is responsible for the conservation and rescue of countless species on the verge of disappearance. While there, Adrian also received a six month diploma in endangered species management.

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