Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Bahia Almejas

    Another day in paradise! We awoke to a gloriously sunny and warm day with beautiful light anchored off of Isla Santa Margarita. Following breakfast, we boarded local pangas (small boats) with local drivers and proceeded out to the mouth, or “boca,” where Bahia Almegas meets the Pacific. There we visited a large colony of birds resting on the sandy beach – cormorants, great blue herons, pelicans, and gulls all clustered together. Periodically a pelican would stretch its bill skyward or a raven would circle overhead, surveying the grounds for prey. The smell of all this wildlife became increasingly more experiential as we got downwind.

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  • Bahia Almejas

    National Geographic Sea Lion commenced early this morning, navigating along Hull Canal to reach the southern part of the Magdalena Coastal Lagoon Complex, called Bahia Almejas, or Clams Bay. This is a very shallow but equally beautiful section for transiting, made by the peninsula of Baja California, the arid, broken, and foggy Santa Margarita Island and the mangrove-covered Crescent Island. Here, the gray whales come into the lagoon by a channel between Santa Margarita and Crescent Islands, although most individuals are adult males and females that gather to court and mate.

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  • Boca de la Soledad

    Known as the mouth of solitude, it connects Bahia Magdalena to the Pacific. A congregating area for adult gray whales and mother calf pairs. This was the setting for our first full day of whale watching aboard National Geographic Sea Lion. And what a first day we had! Guest experienced a full spectrum of whale behavior – from breaches and spy hops to complete baths in the exhaled mists of surfacing whales. The end of the day resonates with the sounds of Los Coyotes de Magdalena and the Desert Flower Dancers.

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  • Sand Dollar Beach

    After breakfast, we traveled to the protected shore of Isla Magdalena and stepped onto a beach paved with uncountable numbers of diverse shells: large and small, intact and broken. One could easily conduct a course in bivalve and gastropod biology just by taking a short stroll. Nevertheless, the real goal of the morning hike was to walk the famous dunes of this region to Sand Dollar Beach that lines Bahía Santa Maria. The dunes and dune ecosystem were stunning, with tracks of lizards, coyotes and jackrabbits winding among desert plants and ancient middens of shells deposited by peoples from the distant past. We viewed excellent examples of the various physical and biological stages of dune creation and progression.

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  • Lopez Mateos

    There was a sense of excitement and anticipation on board National Geographic Venture as we prepared for our final day of this incredible voyage. From our location at the dock in the town of San Carlos, in Magdalena Bay, we would take an hour and a half bus ride north to the town of Lopez Mateos for one last chance to see, and hopefully interact with, the seasonal residents, the mighty gray whales. So once the buses arrived at the dock, and we loaded into our local panga boats, we were off to find our quarry in the protected waters of the northern part of Magdalena Bay.

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  • Bahia Almejas

    This morning we woke up anchored offshore of Isla Margarita in the southern region of Magdalena Bay; a remote area of ocean where we tend to see single adult gray whales coming to court and mate. After a beautiful sunrise, we went out with local guides who took us on two rounds of whale watching from their pangas, rugged and seaworthy fishing boats converted for whale watching. After many encounters with adult gray whales and dolphins, we headed back to the ship for an afternoon of margaritas and talks as we repositioned the ship northward for our full day of whale watching tomorrow.

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  • Bahia Almejas and Playa Alacran

    Under a beautiful multicolored sunrise, National Geographic Sea Lion metaphorically woke up today and started activities. With coffee and fruit at hand, our dedicated guests enjoyed the oncoming sunrise, the quiet of the bay and the great vantages of Santa Margarita Island. Light breezes passed as frigates, cormorants and gulls flew about in a frenzy. Later, after breakfast, several local fishermen from Puerto Chale community took us aboard their pangas, to the southern entrance of the lagoon. Almejas Bay was mirror-still with warmth in the air. On board the pangas, we did the last of our whale watching for the voyage. They were fantastic as our guests observed a lot of spy-hoping activity, and I mean a lot. Many lone whales performed, almost as in a water dance, with heads out from the water surface! We finished our extraordinary experience with lots of sea birds perched on a sandbar close to two magnificent golden eagles as we returned to the ship for lunch.

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  • San José del Cabo

    Whale lovers rejoiced this morning aboard National Geographic Venture. For several hours we watched dozens of humpback whales exhibit an array of behaviors such as fluke up diving, pectoral flipper slapping, head lunging and breaching. A few other species including bottlenose dolphins, an unidentified species of shark, and California sea lions added variety and made things even more interesting.

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  • Man of War Cove, Magdalena Bay

    It was another epic day in Baja California! National Geographic Sea Lion spent a quiet night anchored offshore of Man of War Cove in Magdalena Bay. Conditions were ideal today at sunrise. We took advantage of the full moon high spring tide to explore the upper reaches of the cove in our flotilla of kayaks and Zodiacs. We discovered a great variety of birds inhabiting the sinuous mangrove-lined channel cutting into Magdalena Island.

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  • Isla San Francisco to the City of La Paz

    Today we woke up in the beautiful bay of Isla San Francisco with a fresh (and a little chilly!) snorkel adventure on the western side of the rocks. The morning was hazy and a little eerie, but the visibility of the water was nonetheless stunning. We saw the usual Gulf of California suspects – schooling yellow snappers, the colonizing pocillopora corals of the Pacific, the dodgy parrot fish, grunts, Cortez angelfish, tiny scissorfish, some crown of thorns starfish feeding action, decorative flower urchins and an everlasting intertwining of marine species all in one small, rocky reef.

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