Today we traveled through Hull Canal, a shallow passage with mangrove forests and dune ecosystems on both sides. This passage is located between the southern part of Bahia Magdalena and the northern area known as Boca de Soledad. Lagoons are created by barrier islands. A local pilot navigated the thin, challenging channel, making it a truly special area to travel. Our naturalists hung out on the ship’s bow, pointing out various bird species and encouraging guests to look over the side to see bow-riding bottlenose dolphins. After lunch, we explored a very narrow part of Bahia Magdalena via pangas operated by local fishermen. This part of the bay is an incredible nursery ground for gray whale mother and calf pairs. The babies fatten up on their mother’s milk as they exercise in the currents and prepare for the long migration back to the feeding grounds of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. We were treated to an awe-inspiring experience as these curious calves swam under our pangas and attempted to nurse, which included rolling around and bringing their cute, barnacle-free heads out of the water. We were lucky enough to observe multiple pairs and lots of activity. Thanks to low tides in the afternoon, we cruised close to shore on the way back to the ship, photographing herons, ibises, willets, and even a few howling coyotes. After warming up on the ship, we all met in the lounge for a Mexican fiesta and danced to a performance by local musicians, Los Coyotes.
National Geographic Venture
What an incredible start to this southern migration aboard National Geographic Venture ! We began our day dark and early as the sun rose over the Santa Barbara Channel and Santa Rosa Island, the first stop on our journey along the Pacific Coast of the “peninsulatimate Californias.” Intrepid Torrey pine enthusiasts departed with breakfast burritos in-belly to tackle a steep ridge hike to a stunning grove of these critically endangered and rare-to-the-world conifers, while others adventured after a little bit more sleep along the beautiful back canyons and bountiful bluffs overlooking this captivating corner of Channel Islands National Park. Western meadowlarks, shrikes, and endemic island foxes greeted us trailside, while harbors seals, scoters, and loons looked on lazily from the kelp beds. We pulled anchor over lunch and sailed past Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands, learning as we went from our National Geographic Expert Jonathan Giddens. Our photography instruction was interrupted repeatedly by bow-riding pods of common and bottlenose dolphins. A sunset green flash and a delicious dinner sent us on our way to learn about the Chumash’s Rainbow Bridge from Naturalist Kimberly. Our eyes and hearts were full of memories. Next stop, we “Venture” to Ensenada—¡Vamos!