Sea of Cortez

Feb 13, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Bird


Before we’d even finished breakfast, we were called to the bow of the ship because the naturalists had spotted whale blows. As we scrambled out on deck, we saw that we were surrounded by humpbacks—and some were breaching shockingly close to our starboard side. When the surface activity quieted down, the natural history team dropped the hydrophone into the water and we could hear the various melodies of humpback whale songs. How often do you get to hear real-time whale song? What a great way to better explore the underwater world!

Though both male and female whales can vocalize, it’s most common to hear the male humpbacks singing during breeding season. One potential reason the males sing is to attract mates. One thing we know for sure: Humpback whales are incredibly intelligent and complex animals that we can never fully understand.

The humpbacks weren’t the only cetaceans we saw. In the distance, we spotted what we thought were bottlenose dolphins. As we got closer and saw the dolphins repeatedly jumping out of the water, we properly identified them as rough-toothed dolphins! This species is rare to see and was a first-time sighting for many aboard ship.

Though the wildlife-filled morning was wonderful, we were happy to disembark and stretch our legs in San Jose Del Cabo. A walk along the estuary was a great opportunity to spot birdlife. Though the ocean is close to the estuary we visited, it’s a freshwater ecosystem. We had the spotting scope in tow and were able to identify numerous different bird species. Some favorites included: great blue heron, snowy egret, white-faced ibis, American kestrel, and peregrine falcon. In town, we watched a glass-blowing demonstration at a local studio and were able to buy some beautiful souvenirs made in that same shop. Today was the warmest day we’ve had yet, so many guests enjoyed a relaxing afternoon cooling off with margaritas and paletas in town.

As we sailed south around the tip of the peninsula, we caught the last of the sun’s rays at Land’s End while enjoying cocktails on the bow. Just as the sun set, we saw the green flash! It’s been an excellent three days in the Sea of Cortez and we look forward to starting the second chapter of our trip on the Pacific side of Baja.

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About the Author

Shaylyn Potter

Undersea Specialist

Shaylyn was born and raised in small-town Oregon, which she credits for her unwavering love and respect for the natural world. Her passion for the outdoors and exploration began at a young age, and she spent her childhood taking full advantage of what Oregon had to offer—waterskiing, snowboarding, hiking, and camping.

About the Videographer

James Biscardi

Video Chronicler

James Biscardi is a young, ambitious professional photographer and videographer. He is always on the lookout for the next big adventure and “telling the story” through film.

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