March 17th from the ship
From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California Find your Baja California cruise
The early morning light started painting with soft pastel tones the magnificent mountains of the Sierra del Mechudo to the west, when the National Geographic Sea Bird arrived at Los Islotes. A couple of volcanic guano-covered islets, Los Islotes is home to a small colony of California sea lions; located at the extreme northeast of the La Paz Bay, it is part of the Espiritu Santo Complex Biosphere Reserve and a small haven of marine life.
Well before we could see the sea lions we heard them calling, coughing and barking in as many different ways as sexes and age classes were present: small juveniles doing plaintive loud calls whereas the big bulls proclaimed their territories with deep barking. Soon, their shapes were clearly visible on top of the rocks and swimming all around the islets.
Numerous birds completed the show and added an extra touch of life to the already rich scene. Magnificent frigatebirds, brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, turkey vultures and gulls were all over the place; brown pelicans were particularly active plunge-diving, trying to catch their breakfast just off our bow. This inspired us to go exploring the same waters after our own morning meal. Many of us went snorkeling and admired the sheer beauty and grace of the sea lions underwater; their maneuverability and speed are astonishing and could easily rival those of any fish!
After a full morning at Los Islotes we sailed north looking for new adventures; we had just started lunch when an announcement from the bow made everyone but the hungriest run away from the buffet line: a blue whale had been sighted! The largest animal that ever lived on this planet showed us its flukes many times as we watched it for a good half an hour, before continuing on our way to San Francisco Island.
Once there, where we engaged in numerous activities including snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and last but not least, a delicious dinner ashore. Star-gazing, story-telling, s’mores and dolphins jumping just off the beach made the perfect ending to a marvelous day in the Sea of Cortez!
Carlos Navarro, Undersea Specialist