Baja California and Puerto Gato

Jan 29, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

Wow, what a remarkable first day exploring Baja California! We woke up on the Sea of Cortez with a classic Baja sunrise full of vibrant colors. After breakfast, most of us were out on the bow of National Geographic Venture, enjoying the frenzied company of feeding long-beaked common dolphins and brown pelicans. This phenomenon is known locally as a “bochinche.”

We then cruised south and were incredibly lucky to encounter a blue whale. We watched as this giant cetacean surfaced several times near the ship. Soon after, the ship was visited by a group of common dolphins—hundreds of them! They approached and entertained the guests with bow-riding.

After an excellent lunch, including an ice cream sundae bar, we went ashore on the peninsula at a beautiful locality called Puerto Gato. There we had several options for our afternoon. Many went snorkeling, while others went kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. There were several options for hiking through the vibrant desert as well, which made for great photography, botanizing, and birdwatching.

Back aboard that evening, we enjoyed a spirited cocktail hour as we recapped our highlights.

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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

David Pickar

Video Chronicler

David Pickar is a native of Portland, Oregon. He studied anthropology at the University of Oregon, then spent several years working as a field archaeologist. Participating in excavations in countries like Jordan, Belize and Italy and in every corner of the US, allowed him to witness culture and the environment from an unusual perspective.

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