Boca de la Soledad, Canal de la Magdalena, and Sand Dollar Beach

Feb 01, 2020 - National Geographic Sea Bird

Today we repeated a session of whale watching in the quiet waters of the Magdalena Bay, but a bit earlier. Around 7 a.m. we boarded a big local panga, moving into the Boca de la Soledad, a shallow entrance for the cetaceans located between Magdalena and Santo Domingo islands. There was a light, warm breeze blowing from the northwest, but the conditions were perfect for more whale observations, like a clear atmosphere and a motionless sea. Once at the Boca, we saw the whales moving slowly, almost lazily, with no hurry—the mothers nursing the babies or playing with them; the singles seeking for mates. Our excited guests captured the last mental and photographic images of these magnificent giants, as we would leave soon the area.

The naturalists said the last words about their reproduction, population biology, behavior, history—all that they have been able to learn about the species, not only from specialized books but also, and more importantly, by their years of experience visiting them in the nurseries. Additionally, dozens of seabirds decorated the scenery: white pelicans (“borregones” in the local Spanish jargon), terns, gulls, frigatebirds, pelicans, and fishes jumping out of the water! Once we were more than satisfied with the whale watching, National Geographic Sea Bird picked up anchor (and our navigational adviser Sergio as well) and sailed back into the Canal de la Soledad. The ship passed by Adolfo López Mateos port, which was ready to celebrate, today and the following two days, the Gray Whale Festival, a local tradition in which the people (all the town!) congregate to elect a Queen of the Gray Whale. This Queen, for a year, will promote the conservation of the whales and the tourist activities, local cuisine and traditions of the place.

During the transit of the Canal de la Magdalena, Hiroshi Kawashima presented “The Other Mexico,” a great overview of the discovery, exploration, colonization, and modern life of the peninsula of Baja California, the gulf, and islands. Some whale sightings also occurred from the bow, and, again, we contemplated the dense patches of mangroves with their feathery inhabitants—cormorants, godwits, willets, and others, while 13 dolphins rode our bow.

In the late afternoon, the ship reached the southern portion of the canal, and dropped anchor. All our guests and staff went ashore the Pacific side—the Santa Maria Bay and Sand Dollar Beach. Hundreds of shells were there awaiting us—to be picked, observed, and photographed, like the tower, fig and moon snails, tivelas, cockles, scallops, pen shells, and more. Minute sandpipers pecked at the wet sand to get small invertebrates, their food. Our expedition finished with a beautiful sunset that painted the sky in pink, red, orange, and green.

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About the Author

Michelle Brugiere

Wellness Specialist

Michelle grew up in France and found “home” upon her arrival in California in 1985. In 1987, a near death experience opened the doors to the deep connection between Body Mind Spirit and she became fascinated with the human body. Instead of furthering her teaching career she became a licensed massage therapist and wellness practitioner. She discovered many ways to deepen and understand the connection through the art of therapeutic massage and a daily practice of yoga, meditation, and qigong. Her deep connection to Nature and her passion for adventure and the great outdoors took her to many mountain tops in Colorado, California and South America, rock climbing on beautiful sandstone spires in Utah and on challenging granite walls in Colorado and Argentina. Her love for water took her swimming with dolphins in Kauai and New Zealand, dancing with sea lions and manta rays in the Sea of Cortez, and sea kayaking to the islands in Baja.

About the Photographer

Adrian Cerda


Adrian studied biology at the national Autonomous University of Mexico. In 1991 the Wildlife Preservation Trust of Jersey, on Britain's Channel Islands, awarded Adrian with a scholarship to its prestigious 16-week training program in Captive Management and Breeding of Endangered Species. This pioneering course of study is responsible for the conservation and rescue of countless species on the verge of disappearance. While there, Adrian also received a six month diploma in endangered species management.

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