The pastel of the morning sun painted the mountains of Isla Margarita as the guests of National Geographic Sea Lion sipped their coffee. Cameras were catching the perfect light while bodies were doing their morning stretching on the rear deck prior to our first breakfast. The promise of a day searching for grey whales would soon be realized.

Our guests were dispersed among the five pangas (local viewing boats) as our local experts captained us out to a lagoon where mating couples are known to mingle. Over the course of our day on the water, we viewed hunting pelicans and gulls, a few stray sea lions, and a breeding colony of magnificent frigatebirds. The gold standard for wildlife encounters in Magdalena Bay has always been a visit from a friendly grey whale. Nearly every passenger got close enough to touch the gentle giants... and then gave them a little pet. It was a once in a lifetime experience that won't soon be forgotten.