The day dawned overcast and cool, but it soon warmed up and turned partly sunny. These were perfect conditions for our morning operations. We started with kayaking and standup paddleboarding, followed by Zodiac cruising. Both activities took place in the mangroves of El Barril (‘The Barrel’). We saw several species of birds and learned about the often neglected and abused mangrove ecosystem, which is tremendously important to coastal communities and areas.

We returned to National Geographic Sea Bird for lunch. While eating, we weighed anchor and began sailing through the ‘unnavigable’ Canal de Soledad under the expert guidance of Sergio, a third-generation local pilot. National Geographic Sea Bird is the only vessel that can navigate the treacherous and shallow canal because of the ship’s small size/draft and the fact that Sergio annually charts the safest passage. The canal is a hotspot for birds as well as bottlenose dolphins; some of the dolphins briefly ‘surfed’ our bow wave. Just after emerging from the shallowest portion of the canal, we saw a breaching gray whale. Later, we determined the whale to be a mom with a small calf alongside her.

We arrived at our anchorage near Puerto López Mateos and went ashore to explore the beautiful beaches and sand dunes of Isla Magdalena. Some of us walked along the dunes, while others walked inland to view the Pacific Ocean.

Dinner followed the traditional recap. Afterwards, we were entertained by The Desert Flowers, a trio of enthusiastic dancers from Puerto López Mateos. The music and dancing were infectious and joyous, inspiring many to join the festivities!

It was another excellent day of activities, wildlife, and exuberant culture! More to come tomorrow.