Boca de Soledad in Magdalena Bay

Feb 04, 2020 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Wow, what an incredible day in Baja California aboard National Geographic Sea Lion! We began by loading into pangas (small boats typical of this region of Mexico) to go search for gray whales in Bahia Almejas. Before finding any whales, we came across some great birds, including a pair of Bald Eagles. This is about as far south as this species has ever been observed. We also saw multitudes of cormorants, brown pelicans, and magnificent frigatebirds. Then we headed for the mouth of the bay to interact with migratory gray whales. It wasn’t long before we saw the characteristic blows of whales all around us. Then, the whales were within arm’s reach around our boat.

For nearly two hours, we were surrounded by frolicking whales, which were rolling, spy-hopping, and breaching in what seemed like every direction. We were amazed at the spectacle!

Pulling ourselves away, we returned to National Geographic Sea Lion for an incredible lunch. Immediately after which, we went ashore on the beautiful Santa Margarita Island. The beach was covered in beautiful seashells and the sun-bleached bones of whales, birds, fish, and turtles. We split into groups and enjoyed several great activities. Some just enjoyed the beach, some went on bike rides, while many of us went on a nature walk. The desert on the island is incredibly fascinating and lush, diverse with cacti and other plant species.

The weather was cool and cloudy in the morning, turned to sunny and warm in the early afternoon, and then shifted to slightly rainy in the late afternoon, with the lovely bonus of a rainbow over the desert.

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About the Author

Ivan Phillipsen


Ivan is a passionate naturalist with a background in scientific research. He has participated in studies of a diverse assortment of organisms: aspen trees, cactus wrens, aquatic snails, frogs, and beetles. He holds a M.S. in biology from Cal State San Bernardino and a Ph.D. in zoology from Oregon State University. The population genetics of freshwater animals was his area of focus. He has published a series of papers on the evolutionary biology of amphibians and aquatic insects. Ivan’s scientific work invariably involved backpacking into remote wilderness areas to find his secretive research subjects in their natural habitats.

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