A heavy blanket of fog laid over National Geographic Sea Bird as the last day of the voyage began. After a brief stretch class, guests enjoyed a healthy breakfast to prepare for a morning of whale watching. Pangas full of guests sped along the sand dunes that line Canal de Soledad as eyes were set on the horizon, hoping to see the distinct heart-shaped spout of the gray whale. It didn’t take long for the panga drivers to find a mother and calf floating at the surface of the water, apparently enjoying a restful sleep. After a period of quiet observation from a distance, the whales began to stir into motion. Guests were greeted by a friendly giant as the young gray whale prodded the fiberglass boats with curiosity. We wrapped up a productive morning of whale watching when guests came back aboard for lunch. We made a short transit through Hull Canal with navigation by our longtime pilot, Sergio Camacho. The ship anchored near the southern tip of Isla Magdalena so guests could make the short trek to Sand Dollar Beach as the last adventure of the day.
National Geographic Sea Lion
It will be a struggle to produce a combination of words fit to describe the spectacle of whale activity we witnessed today, but here I endeavor to bring said combination forth. Simply put, the day was sublime. A breezy, overcast morning greeted us as we embarked on a whale watching expedition that sent pangas in many different directions pursuing disparate whales all engaged in a variety of activity. Many rolled at the surface exposing their pectoral fins, some sent their rostrums skyward in elegant spy-hops, and others still cozied up to our pangas for minutes that felt like eons. During our brief lunch reprieve, the breeze calmed and the clouds lifted, setting a sunny scene for our afternoon excursions. Though a tough act to follow, our second round of whale watches were the greatest of my career. Roughly 50 gray whales coalesced in a mating season spectacular. The animals rolled atop one another, breached as many as six times in rapid succession, darted in every direction, and brushed past our boats close enough for many explorers to touch their rostrums. One individual brought its rostrum directly against the starboard side of our panga as if begging for a petting. It was an unbelievably moving affair.