After having crossed the Tropic of Cancer during the night, National Geographic Venture started a new day inside the tropics; many of us early risers admired a spectacular sunrise that colored the clouds and sea with beautiful tones or red, orange and pink. Not long afterward, we arrived at Los Frailes, just outside of the Cabo Pulmo National Park, and dropped anchor to get ready for a great morning of water activities. Everyone who went snorkeling had a great time watching many different kinds of fish, equinoderms and corals. Some of the favorites where the convict tangs, the yellowtail surgeons, and of course, the king angels. Several species of hard reef-building corals in good health were seen all around, as well as some California sea lions. Amy Malkoski and I went scuba diving with a local operator in order to take underwater video for everyone on board. We went to the El Vencedor shipwreck, a former tuna purse-seiner that sank several decades ago after hitting a rock and well known for the abundance of fish life around it. Today, El Vencedor did not disappoint us! Even before we reached the bottom, we spotted the first of many bull sharks that were a continuous presence throughout the dive. At times, we were able to see up to eight different sharks swimming together all around us and allowing me to take video of their elegant and magnificent beings. In today’s world, when we have already lost 90 percent of the planet’s requiem sharks, it is an authentic privilege to see those most important elements of the marine environment. The mere presence of so many top predators is a good measure of the success of Cabo Pulmo, a very encouraging example of how Mother Nature can recover when we give her the chance.
During the rest of the day we sailed through the Capes region, which is one of the most important breeding and calving grounds of humpback whales in the North Pacific; we saw the first ones even before we weighed anchor, actually! Throughout the evening, we watched numerous humpbacks, several of them in tight groups of males competing with each other in order to gain the right to mate with a female. We saw many whale body parts out in the air, including 15-foot-long pectoral fins, flukes, heads and multiple breaches – even a couple of whales that breached together not far from the ship. A colorful sunset marked the end of our last day inside the beautiful Sea of Cortez. What a day!