Our second day of expedition on National Geographic Sea Bird was an exciting one from start to finish. Early in the morning we rose to an immaculate sunrise filling the sky with luscious colors of red, pink, and yellow. Then California sea lions were spotted basking in the sun on the rocks of Las Animas. Before breakfast had even been announced, many sets of binoculars were out, and we were all searching for more life in the water. To our delight, in the distance we saw a large pod of bottlenose dolphins leaping out of the water! We were able to get extremely close and see these incredible animals riding the bow of our ship. The dolphins felt extremely close, directly below us all and emerging from the water every few seconds to greet us.
We spent much of the morning planning and discussing our options for activities for the week. Then during lunch, the Lindblad undersea team went on a scuba dive to gain video footage of the diverse aquatic life in the area. The team was able to document and share a rich array of marine life including large schools of surgeonfish, several types of both nudibranchs and flatworms, pufferfish, purple gorgonians, sea stars, and more. They also found a rare sight: an endemic brown cheek blenny, a fish with an interesting life story that is smaller than a pinky finger, yet colorful and intricate.
After lunch, we went snorkeling off the small expedition craft in an area called the amphitheater where we found shallow water filled with rainbow wrasse, cornet fish, balloon fish, endemic sergeant majors, and flower urchins.
We then exchanged our fins for hiking shoes and took a walk into the desert to learn more about the interesting adaptations of plants in a desert environment. Finally, we came back to the ship, fatigued from a very full day, but excited with stories to share about our first full day of expedition in the Sea of Cortez. We shared experiences and laughter over warm, hearty meals, then topped off our day with a delicious dessert and a fascinating presentation about California sea lions. It was an outstanding beginning to our expedition in Baja California Sur.