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

Jan 31, 2020 - National Geographic Sea Lion

On our last full day here in Baja California, we enjoyed an assortment of wonderful activities. It started extra early, with our first excursions out from National Geographic Sea Lion starting that morning at 7:00. We jumped in our trusty Zodiacs, and along with the local Pangueros, we went out looking for gray whales one last time.

We zoomed around in the shallow lagoon of Magdalena Bay and soon found several formidable gray whale adults. We spent some quality time with them, enjoying the sight and sounds of each blow and surfacing. We ventured further out into La Boca – the mouth of the bay where it meets the open Pacific Ocean. There we found even more whale individuals, including a young calf, swimming close beside its mother. We also watched brown pelicans plunging into the waves to scoop up fish.

Back on board the ship, we were treated by the hotel staff and galley to a fantastic brunch. Following that, National Geographic guest John Francis gave a fascinating presentation on his work with blue whales. Many of us enjoyed being out on deck in the afternoon, as the ship headed south through the narrow channel of Hull Canal, which is lined with mangrove forests and is teeming with birds and dolphins.

Our last shore landing was at the amazing Sand Dollar Beach. There we enjoyed barefoot walks across the beautiful dunes to the vast beach on the Pacific side. Some of us went for a fat-tire bike ride along the beach on the bay side. The crew provided cocktails, snacks, and music on the beach. As we returned to National Geographic Sea Lion, we witnessed a classic Baja sunset, rich with vibrant colors. What a full and wonderful day!

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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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