Isla San Margarita | Scorpion Beach

Feb 27, 2020 - National Geographic Sea Lion


The day dawned with promise as the sun rose up into a clear, windless sky and the still mirror of the Baja oceanscape. Fueled by enthusiasm and great anticipation, we set out for the day’s activities. Everyone had the opportunity to kayak off Scorpion Beach on Isla San Margarita in absolutely ideal conditions and/or hike into the surrounding desert. All of us also had the opportunity to travel by pangas piloted by local pangueros into Bahía Almejas to watch whales. And the whales gave a spectacular show!

We saw all the classic behaviors: spyhopping, breaching, juveniles rolling around and playing in the shallow shoals, swimming around and under our pangas, a mother who was reluctant to let her small calf get too close, and best of all, a friendly whale who avidly solicited our attention. Shouts of joy echoed across the bay. In addition to the petting, some of us also experienced the lifetime opportunity that is whale breath, to various degrees of appreciation! So many whales! The sheer number of blows all around us was nearly sensory overload. Shouts of Over there! Over here! Off the bow! Off the stern! Spyhopping at 11 o’clock! rippled between our boats. Watch that breach at 3 o’clock! resulted in glancing this way and that, as if we were watching a spirited game of ice hockey. An added touch to the morning’s spectating was the brief presence of bottlenose dolphins and a solitary sea lion.

After a day of whale watching, hiking, and kayaking, we gathered again on Scorpion Beach for the traditional barbeque. Can’t beat sitting in beach chairs while taking in excellent food and views. As we finished our meal and darkness descended, we ventured into the surrounding vegetation to look for scorpions using blacklight handhelds. After all, it is called Scorpion Beach for a reason! Blacklight reflects off scorpions thereby rendering them highly visible, and in addition to creating a novel photo, also gave us an idea overall density.

We returned to National Geographic Sea Lion under a plethora of stars and the stunning sight of Venus next to a crescent moon. Clearly, the promises made at dawn were granted in full by day’s end.

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About the Author

James Coyer

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

It was Malle and Cousteau’s The Silent World, viewed in a dusty meeting hall on a wintry day in central Wisconsin that forged Jim’s dream and commitment to become a marine biologist. Never mind that he was only 8 at the time and that it would be another 13 years before he finally felt the spray of an ocean on his face.

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