Isla Espiritu Santo
As soon as we were settled into our camp, we got our snorkeling gear on and swam to a nearby little coral reef. I was amazed! For someone who spends a lot time in the water, I am used to see damaged snorkeling spots, either fished out, or trashed, big fish and big mollusks gone, an unhealthy and unbalanced ecosystem left behind. But this one had a strong coral growth, lots of nudibranchs, big snappers, clams, oysters, many little fish and millions of juveniles. That afternoon, I saw three eels and two scorpion fish. Every where I looked, I saw life thriving, in all shapes and forms. So refreshing! But the most amazing moment of that afternoon was still to come. It was not really something I saw, but something I heard. As I took a deep breath and swam down, I heard a long whining sound – a sort of a slow melody. It was exactly like I had heard and seen on Planet Earth, the television show produced by BBC and narrated by Sir David Attenborough, when male humpbacks, as part of their mating ritual, sing, floating motionless, hanging in an upside down, head-down, tail-up position. These were most likely the whales I had seen earlier, now singing, miles away in the channel. Holding onto a rock so that I could keep my depth and not float like a cork back to the surface, I closed my eyes and listened to this audio spectacle. I was probably not the audience the whales were looking for, but I was certainly happy to be allowed to enjoy their performance. It was simply magical!
I closed my eyes and listened to this audio spectacle. I was probably not the audience the whales were looking for, but I was certainly happy to be allowed to enjoy their performance. It was simply magical!
That evening, after another incredible hike, which revealed, out on the water, a group of rays jumping so high it was hard to believe, I sat on the beach and photographed the brown pelicans in action. The light blue sky behind them was the perfect background.
Our first destination the following day was the hidden lagoon in the bay south of us. Only accessible at high tide, the place is a little piece of bird paradise. A sense of stillness reigned. Brown pelicans, frigates, black crown heron, great egrets, little blue herons, all were holding court in the mangroves – the perfect spot!
As we exited through the shallow narrow passage and started paddling north, a small pod of bottlenose dolphins crossed our path and headed out. Later that day, we came to our second camping site, a secluded alcove, guarded by a group of brown pelicans, keeping a tight watch on the water, looking for their next target. After a nice lunch and putting our tents up, we got back into our kayaks and headed across to Isla Ballenas for a quick paddle. Blue foot boobies were flying around, topped way above by a group of magnificent frigates, gliding the warm air.
That evening, after another incredible hike, which revealed, out on the water, a group of rays jumping so high it was hard to believe, I sat on the beach and photographed the brown pelicans in action. The light blue sky behind them was the perfect background. As they flew in circle before twisting and falling like arrows in the water, their bodies created the most amazing abstract shapes. It was as if a calligraphy master had just decided to paint the sky with the strokes of his brush. During dinner, a ring tailed cat was seen sneaking around our camp, looking for any opportunity.
The stinging jellyfish print on my skin was of no concern the next morning, as we set out for the sea lion colony. This was surely going to be one of the biggest highlights! Barely out of the kayak and into the water, I had three pups pulling my fins and playing with me. Two females swam around, passing extremely fast, opening their mouths and releasing a big stream of bubbles while never letting me out of sight, their big giant inquiring black eyes following my every move. It felt like I was playing in the grass with a bunch of dogs. From time to time, a huge male would come by and ensure that everything was under control. His massive and intimidating presence was a reminder to all – us and the sea lions pups, that we still needed to behave. It was so amazing! At some point, one leaped and landed on my back, grabbing my shoulder. I turned around, holding his flippers and the two of us went on in a series of rolls and twists. I was just a happy kid playing in the water with them. And like any kid, I was called back to reality when after twenty minutes, it was time to climb back into the kayaks and continue our paddle.
I navigated for the rest of the day with a big grin on my face. We went around to the west side of Isla Partida and through the channel. After having lunch in the pass, we paddled a little bit more to our last camping site, just a few hundred yards away from our pick up location for our ride back to LaPaz the next day. That afternoon, we did one last big hike, up through a fantastic Arroyo filled with big boulders. The sight must be absolutely incredible when the entire valley flash floods in this creek. On a rock, bathing under the sun was an eastern collared lizard and flying high, screeching, a red-tail hawk patrolled his domain. As I headed back to the camp, I could only marvel at the last 5 days. This place was really sacred and the trip was only halfway done. Tomorrow was the beginning of our second half, this time, on the Pacific side, with the gray whales.
On a rock, bathing under the sun was an eastern collared lizard and flying high, screeching, a red-tail hawk patrolled his domain. As I headed back to the camp, I could only marvel at the last 5 days.
“I follow in the footsteps of my childhood heros, David Attenborough, Jim Fowler & Jacques Cousteau, traveling Earth’s remote places. My lifelong passion for adventure and nature, and my commitment to inspire change and improving lives have led me to create The Wild Image Project, with for mission to motivate others and alter their perspective on global issues by aesthetically presenting information and ideas that stimulate engagement, involvement and transformation.” – Daniel Fox
Daniel Fox is a member of the Explorers Club in New York, of the Royal Geographical Society in London, an ETE (Education Through Exploration) Ambassador, a Blue Project Ambassador and a Planet Explore Visionary (a The North Face initiative that promotes the outdoors)