Baja California

Mar 09, 2020 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Nearly 200 years ago, whalers entered Boca de Soledad and shouts of “Thar she blows” rang across the bay. Today, explorers on National Geographic Sea Lion inflatables entered the bay with shouts of “over there!”; “breech, breech, breech!”; “spyhop!”; “mom and baby at 10 o’clock!”

This marks a great paradigm shift, from kill-a-whale mindset to killer photos. We saw, and photographed, nearly all the gray whale behaviors that can be observed from the surface: breeching, spyhopping, logging, lob-tailing, baby rolling over mom, and mom rolling over baby, fluke thrashing, swimming under the inflatable. All displays were seared into our memories and digitally preserved for future enjoyment and reflection.

Not to diminish the impact of whale watching, but on the commute we saw flocks of white pelicans resting on a beach, juvenile and adult frigate birds perched in the mangroves, royal terns flying from and back to their beach retreat, kingfishers, diving pelicans, hundreds of cormorants, and many other species.

Those of us on the nature hike received guided and up-close views of mangroves, coyotes, bald eagles, and more birds. Some chose to peacefully and silently walk the beach or dunes. Whatever we did today was sublime – and we will do it again in a different area tomorrow!

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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 I finally felt the spray of an ocean on my face.

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