Heading toward a new addition to our Bahamas itinerary, we woke up this morning near Mayaguana, the easternmost island in the Bahama archipelago. Not very popular for tourism, Mayaguana remains one of the most pristine and untouched islands in the Bahamas. Because this was a new destination for us, our field staff team went out early to scout exciting areas for adventure. We drove all along the southwestern coast, stopping at several places that piqued our interest.
On the eastern tip of Pirates Well, we saw a small flock of flamingos, about 30 birds, on the outer fringe of a mangrove creek. I had some expectations for spotting these birds here, as I have documented them in this same spot several times in the past. On our way back to National Geographic Sea Lion, we saw another small flock of birds flying toward the first group. We knew right away that the flock was getting larger. We wanted our guests to have the chance to see a flamboyance twice the size as the one we encountered yesterday.
45 minutes later, we were back in three Zodiacs with cameras, binoculars, and spotting scopes to get a closer, better look at the flamingos. We spent about 30 minutes with these birds before cruising along the sand flats closer to shore. As in many coves and flats in the Bahamas, the water level between high and low tide can determine whether you spend a few minutes in a spot and make it home, or end up deserted for several hours.
After we spent enough time with the flamingos, we headed inshore to explore some of the coastal forests and mangrove creeks. On our way across the flats, we were surprised to see many different critters, including a huge southern stingray, green sea turtles, and many juvenile queen conchs. The queen conch is an iconic species in the Bahamas, so I took a moment to talk to guests about this important marine gastropod and its plight.
We eventually made our way back to National Geographic Sea Lion for lunch, and we repositioned farther along the east coast toward a different spot. We spent the afternoon kayaking and paddling along the coast. We explored seagrass beds, patch reefs, and rocky, sandy shores in the area. We saw various species of fish, birds, and some sea turtles. We ended our day here and headed back to the ship. Our next stop tomorrow: Acklins Island.