The day began in Northern Magdalena Bay, with flat, calm seas and clear skies. Those of us who enjoyed our morning coffee on the bow of National Geographic Sea Bird listened to the distant calls of coyotes carrying across the dunes. Some of our guests began the day ashore, exploring the untouched sand for the tracks of wildlife that had passed through in the night.

The rest of our party started with whale watching, and our trusted pangueros treated us to an eventful morning with a variety of wildlife. We were delighted by the playfulness of several gray whale babies, but the day was made even better by an especially friendly encounter with a dozen bottlenose dolphins. These charmers rode under the bow of the pangas and surfed in their wake. We could even hear the squeaks of their echolocation through the hull of the small boats.

Another unexpected highlight of our whale watching was the incredible birdwatching! In addition to the more common brown pelicans, we sighted a group of American white pelicans, whose wingspans measure nine feet. This was followed by close looks at a colony of magnificent frigatebirds perched in mangroves right on the shoreline. An encounter with a group of white ibises was the cherry on top of a beautiful morning.

In the afternoon, we boarded the pangas once more to search for whales. We enjoyed several close encounters with mother gray whales and their calves, made all the better by the beautiful, sunny weather. In fact, it was such a lovely day that we were able to have our dinner alfresco, with a barbecue on the beach! As the sun set over the dunes, we were serenaded by local musicians, Los Coyotes de Magdalena. After riding back to the ship in the waning light, we relaxed in the lounge with drinks and listened to a historical presentation from naturalist Mauro. We can’t wait to see what the friendly whales of Baja California have in store for us tomorrow.