National Geographic Venture anchored off Isla San Martin, a volcanic island located a few miles away from the peninsula. Although not home to any permanent residents, the island is still part of the Ensenada municipality. Fish camps were visible along the shoreline, and the buoys from pots floated amidst the kelp. Rising to just over 400 feet, this small extinct volcano is home to various reptiles.
The wind, swell, and current caused excitement during the Zodiac tours as we rode the swells and watched the waves break along the shoreline. Harbor seals were observed, hauled out on the inside of the lagoon at the southwestern end of Isla San Martin, but some were in the kelp and took interest in the Zodiacs. Two species of kelp grow outside of the lagoon – giant kelp and elk kelp. Kelp is a foundation species, providing shelter from predators for a variety of sea creatures including fish. Most likely, some of these fish hiding amidst the kelp were what the harbor seals and various diving birds were after. With the occasional seal peeking out of the water to get a look at us, we watched herons and oystercatchers search for food while cormorants flew past and pelicans hunkered down on shore away from the wind.