Baja California’s West Coast

Mar 12, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


Sailing south from San Ignacio Lagoon overnight, we woke this morning off Santa Margarita Island. This island, along with Isla Santa Margarita and the Baja peninsula, comes to form Magdalena Bay. Our morning began under overcast skies and light rains. Conditions improved as the day advanced, however, ending with a wide, blue sky with plenty of sunshine! Waters off the western shore Baja California are known for their high productivity, due to upwelling during the winter and spring months. This became readily apparent soon after getting to see the area firsthand.

There were a variety of birds in great numbers, including Magnificent frigatebirds, brown pelicans, both red and red-necked phalaropes, red-billed tropic birds, Bonaparte’s gulls, California and western gulls, and sooty, black-vented, and pink-footed shearwaters. Even a small group of both Nazca and masked boobies flew around our bow for a short visit!

The real treat this morning came from beneath the surface in form of an immense group of long-beaked common dolphins. Several hundred of them were scattered over a large area, presumably feeding on some kind of small pelagic fish, possibly sardines. A number of them came alongside National Geographic Venture to ride the pressure wave created in front of her bow. What a joy to watch those beautiful and agile beings swimming and jumping out of the water with minimal effort!

We also encountered several humpback whales that regaled us with their antics. Excitement was stoked during brunch with great tail-slapping displays that were seen by many from inside the dining room! Bottlenose dolphins, pelagic red crabs, and several olive ridley and loggerhead turtles were also among those creatures spotted, the culmination of which has made for quite a memorable journey.

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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

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