Land’s End to Cabo Pulmo

Jan 22, 2020 - National Geographic Venture

After having sailed South during the night, National Geographic Venture arrived at the southernmost part of the peninsula shortly before sunrise. Known as Land’s End, the dramatic looking granitic formations are the landmark of Cabo San Lucas, particularly the natural arch which makes for a particularly photogenic spot. Our Captain expertly maneuvered the ship in front of the arch, and we had the chance to enjoy the rocks changing color as the light increased and the sun rose higher over the horizon. Just as we started to pull out of there, a whale surfaced a short distance away. We know that the whole Cape region is one of the main breeding and calving grounds for humpback whales in the North Pacific, but this whale was not a humpback. It was a gray whale! Go figure…

A little bit later, while we were having breakfast, we spotted the first of several groups of humpback whales of the day. Multiple individuals, presumably males, swimming close to each other and showing their flukes, pectoral fins and chins, tried to gain a female’s favor. Humpback whale males compete physically with each other and even though most of the action happens underwater and out of our view, we could still see glimpses of how those titans fight. We eventually arrived in the vicinity of a couple of seamounts known as the Gorda Banks; there we saw even more humpbacks and more groups of competitive males, our attention occasionally diverted by a sea turtle or a jumping mobula ray.  We also saw numerous individuals breaching around or slapping the waters with their fifteen feet long pectoral fins, which are the longest arms in the animal kingdom, by the way. What a show!

During the early afternoon we arrived at the southern boundary of the Cabo Pulmo National Park, a small 27 square mile protected area where the local people became instrumental in its creation and protection. As a result, Cabo Pulmo showed an incredible 463% increase of fish biomass after nearly a decade and a half, the biggest recovery registered of all marine reserves in the world! Moreover, we got the opportunity to go snorkeling, marking an end to our first day inside the beautiful 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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