Cruising around Carmen Island

Mar 18, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

Today we spent our first full day together as we transited around the peninsula of Baja California—and it could not have played out better. We woke as National Geographic Venture sailed the waters between Montserrat and Carmen islands, inside the Loreto Bay National Park. Loreto Bay is one of the jewels of Mexico’s Natural Protected Areas. Created in 1995, the park protects five islands and surrounding waters, and is home to a great diversity of marine mammals.

Shortly after sunrise, we crossed a blue whale, our first wildlife discovery! The holy grail of whale watching, this massive mammal (Earth’s largest!) delighted us for some time, making the photographers wild as it slowly raised its flukes before a deep dive! Blue whales have not always been as prevalent as they are now. It is estimated that as many as 2.9 million blue whales were killed as a result of aggressive hunting practices through much of the twentieth century. Since the ending of commercial whaling in 1971, the blue whale is making a comeback, though it remains endangered. It is a true privilege to watch such a rare and impressive creature, and to have this experience so early on!

Breakfast was short because a large group of long-beaked common dolphins. Clusters surrounded National Geographic Venture on both sides, and everyone who wanted pictures had no shortage of opportunity!

Numerous sea birds were also present and following the dolphins, trying to get the same schooling fish that the former were chasing, possibly sardines. Brown pelicans, yellow-footed and Hermann’s gulls, sooty shearwaters, magnificent frigatebirds, and Craveri’s murrelets got plenty attention from cameras as well.

After lunch we boarded our Zodiacs and explored the northern shoreline of Carmen Island. The rugged cliffs and hillscapes made for the most dramatic and picturesque setting that day. Bottlenose dolphins entertained the group over high jumps and other antics throughout the afternoon. Today was a thoroughly enjoyable one for our first experience exploring Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

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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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