El Burel and Hull Canal

Mar 15, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Bird

What a spectacular day today it was to be aboard National Geographic Sea Bird! Guests woke to a misty fog surrounding the ship, reminding us just how close we are to the Pacific Ocean on this expedition. Once the fog lessened, kayaks and Zodiacs were deployed for a voyage through a local mangrove forest.

There are 80 species of mangrove found worldwide, with some of the largest communities in Mexico found right here in Bahia Magdalena. These forests comprise extremely unique ecosystems. They are found on the coastlines of tropical areas extremely low in oxygen and high in salinity: two characteristics not usually conducive to plant life.

We came across a great constellation of red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) that are found fully rooted in the ocean. These are known as “walking trees” because of special “prop roots” that elevate these trees out of the water, ensuring the upper portions receive sufficient oxygen while blocking ocean salt from entering the tree’s vascular system.

After a morning of thorough exploration, we made our way through the winding and narrow Hull Canal. Lined with mangroves on both sides, the topography of sand bars in this canal shifts almost daily, requiring precision when navigating between Bahia Magdalena and Boca de Soledad. Guests and natural history staff had ample time to enjoy the sunshine out on the bow this afternoon. Clear conditions allowed for viewing a multitude of migratory sea and shorebirds residing in these mangrove communities for the winter. Cormorants, herons, and pelicans chased National Geographic Sea Bird through the canal while curlews, willets, and ibises browsed the coast for invertebrates and fish buried in the shallow underwater sand.

The day ended with a brisk walk across the sand dunes to catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean on the other side of Isla Magdalena before the sun began to set. Content with the amount of wildlife and terrain covered today, we head back to National Geographic Sea bird with no lack of excitement for the full day of whale watching slated for tomorrow!

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About the Author

JIll Niederberger


Jill is an aquatic biologist, naturalist, divemaster, and captain with a love for everything living in and depending on water. Whether sailing catamarans, leading snorkeling tours, or assisting with cetacean field research projects, she enjoys connecting others to the wilderness around them. Her most recent adventures have led her into a focus on marine mammals – those creatures with fur and blubber that defy the odds by living in or depending on an environment in which they cannot breathe.

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