This morning begins with rain on the decks of National Geographic Sea Lion and in the desert. This portion of the Baja Peninsula normally receives its meager rainfall from summer monsoon and hurricane episodes, but today a winter system from the northwest has pushed into the region and we find ourselves in the midst of an anomaly. A sage expedition leader once shared this bit of wisdom: there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. And so we don our gear to walk in the dunes of Sand Dollar Beach and soak in the beauty of the landscape as the plants soak up this unexpected gift of moisture. The afternoon minus tide exposes large areas of mud flats and sandbars amongst the mangroves in the Hull Canal making for a great session of bird watching in the second part of our day. The first blows of the gray whales cap our day and fill all with anticipation for tomorrow.
National Geographic Sea Lion
Under a beautiful multicolored sunrise, National Geographic Sea Lion metaphorically woke up today and started activities. With coffee and fruit at hand, our dedicated guests enjoyed the oncoming sunrise, the quiet of the bay and the great vantages of Santa Margarita Island. Light breezes passed as frigates, cormorants and gulls flew about in a frenzy. Later, after breakfast, several local fishermen from Puerto Chale community took us aboard their pangas, to the southern entrance of the lagoon. Almejas Bay was mirror-still with warmth in the air. On board the pangas, we did the last of our whale watching for the voyage. They were fantastic as our guests observed a lot of spy-hoping activity, and I mean a lot . Many lone whales performed, almost as in a water dance, with heads out from the water surface! We finished our extraordinary experience with lots of sea birds perched on a sandbar close to two magnificent golden eagles as we returned to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon, we explored Santa Margarita Island. It is a geological jewel because it is composed of exotic terrains, a mélange of different rocks resulting from subduction processes along the Pacific margin of northwestern Mexico many millions of years ago. The Sonoran Desert vegetation covers the island, with some endemic species. On Alacran (Scorpion) Beach, we found millions of shells of diverse clam, snail, mussel, oyster, and scallop species, mangroves. It was a lot of fun to identify the different groups and species and learn about their life histories. Lizards, butterflies, bees, land birds and spiders surfaced beside a multitude of desert flowers. The day finished with dinner served on the uppermost deck as we enjoyed the evening breeze coming off Almejas Bay.