Loreto Bay National Park

Apr 18, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

Sunrise found us transiting across the northern boundary of the Loreto Bay National Park. Established in 1995 by the government of Mexico, the park protects five of the most precious islands occupying the Sea of Cortez: Monserrate, Danzante, Santa Catalina, Coronados, and Carmen. The waters around them are also part of these parks, and we spent the morning sailing through a good portion of the area. Once inside, we had the pleasure to witness not just the sunrise over the ocean but one that showed the elusive and ever-mythic green flash!

Created by the refraction of the sun’s light over a very clean atmosphere, the green flash this morning made a few new converts among those witnessing. Shortly after, we had several small groups of bottlenose dolphins come to greet us and spend some time swimming nearby, jumping and bow riding the pressure wave created by National Geographic Venture.

We sailed off the north and eastern sides of Carmen Island—the park’s largest—and learned about the important role it played in the colonization of the entire peninsula of Baja California. Starting in the early 1700’s, the Jesuit missionaries exploited the natural salt deposit located in Salinas Bay on the northeastern part of the island and traded the resource to those in the mainland to help fund many of the missions throughout the region.

National Geographic Venture entered the protected harbor of Puerto Escondido and we boarded several vehicles that transported us to the town of Loreto. There we enjoyed a very nice time exploring the charming quiet town that used the be the first capital of that huge territory that once spanned from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas known as California. We visited the gorgeous mission there, one which is still active. Afterward we attended the local museum, ate ice cream and popsicles, and had a wonderful time drinking margaritas, beer, and wine at a local hotel. What a great way to finish another beautiful day exploring Baja California and the 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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