Man-O-War Beach, Isla Magdalena

Feb 04, 2020 - National Geographic Venture

This morning, National Geographic Venture anchored off Man-O-War Beach on Isla Magdalena. A variety of walks went out across the island to Sand Dollar Beach, and one headed towards the mangroves in search of birds. The hikes across the island found low-lying wildflowers in bloom on the dunes, including red sand-verbana, euphorbias, and the endemic Magdalena twinevine. Once on the other side, plenty of evidence of the creatures that live in the Pacific Ocean were discovered. Included in the list of treasures from the sea were the skull of a sea lion, bones of dolphins, and a multitude of massive scallops. Shells of snails were left in piles from where some hungry bird had enjoyed their meals in the past. The bird walk saw a variety of shorebirds on the way to the mangroves, and then herons, egrets, and an osprey amongst the mangroves.

In the afternoon, National Geographic Venture left the anchorage inside of Magdalena Bay and cruised south through La Entrada, into the Pacific Ocean. Our Expedition Leader, John Mitchell, strategically scheduled a talk in the afternoon, knowing that the wildlife likes to interrupt these types events. His planning went well, and humpback whales were spotted just as the scheduled talk was about to start. For the majority of the afternoon, humpback whales were seen around the vessel. These whales showed off at the surface by diving around the vessel and fluking majestically. The most impressive behavior we observed was breaching, tail lobbing, and fin slapping. Naturalist Sofia Merino narrated as we watched the show in order to translate the behavior of these whales for us. Our last full day on the Pacific coast of Baja California concluded with a beautiful sunset.

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About the Author

Sarah Friedlander


Growing up with a large backyard, Sarah spent her childhood exploring the woods and bringing home frogs. When asked not to bring frogs into the house, she learned the difference between frogs and toads and was soon asked not to bring toads into the house either. Raised just outside of Washington, DC, she considers herself lucky to have grown up with exposure to a combination of the outdoors and the city, as it helped her pick with certainty which one she wanted to spend all her time in - the outdoors.

About the Photographer

Jeff Campbell


Jeff Campbell fell in love with the ocean while attending boatbuilding school in Eastport, Maine. Since completing his MS in Marine and Estuarine Science at Western Washington University, he has worked for NOAA documenting the ecological impacts of transoceanic fiber-optic cable; the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife developing an aging method for sixgill sharks; the Lummi Tribe as a Harvest Biologist; Northwest Indian College teaching Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, and as a volunteer for the Whatcom County Marine Mammal Stranding Network. He has been involved in research developing mitigation methods for harmful algae blooms, sterilization methods for oil tanker ballast water, and techniques for screening refinery effluent for harmful ecological effects. He also served as Principle Director on a USDA-funded grant using student interns to study the impact of nutrient-rich run-off on seasonal dead-zones in Bellingham Bay.

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