For our last morning of exploration in the lagoon system of Magdalena Bay, we went to shore on the southern end of Isla Magdalena in Man o’ War Cove. This area is named for its history of use in the American Navy – for drills and target practice mainly – but is now an excellent protected bay for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and looking for shorebirds as the tide goes out. Those that were looking to stretch their legs a bit more took off across the sand dunes that seem to stretch endlessly towards the Pacific Ocean, to be rewarded with beautiful shells and views of a multitude of whales off the coast. Within the dune ecosystem, guests learned about the unique adaptations of the plants that are able to survive on the ever-changing environments of sand being blown across the Magdalena Plains. Some terrestrial animals also live within the dunes, burrowing beneath the surface to stay cool during the heat of the day. Guests saw evidence of coyotes, mice, snakes, chuckwallas, and globose dune beetles (just to name a few).
During lunch National Geographic Venture pulled anchor and exited Magdalena Bay via La Entrada – the channel between Islas Magdalena and Santa Margarita. Humpback whales and gray whales were seen swimming southwards towards the Cape region (humpbacks), west into the lagoon (grays), or north towards their summer feeding grounds more than 4,000 miles away. To introduce some of the culture of Mexico, one of the bartenders explained the processes by which tequila and mezcal are made, finishing with a tasting of locally made mezcals. In the late afternoon, National Geographic Venture was greeted by some playful and acrobatic offshore bottlenose dolphins bow riding and breaching as the sun set over the western horizon.