Bahia Madgalena, Hull Canal, and Sand Dollar Beach

Feb 09, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

After another stunning sunrise in Magdalena Bay, we were very lucky to get the gift of spending nearly two hours with the friendliest whale seen in the lagoon in years, Olivia, and her daughter Keira. Olivia was calm and would approach our boats slowly, then close her eyes as people would rub her head, as if she was really enjoying the contact. The calf, Keira, on the other hand, would be very very playful, and as one guest remarked: “We are all the toys in the baby’s bathtub now!” Keira would push boats around, would climb onto mom’s tail or head and then slide off, and would come up from right underneath the expedition landing craft to surprise us and look at us. All of us got a chance to gently rub her head and belly.

What a terrific gift to be able to spend so much time in such close proximity to these absolutely remarkable animals! It made us all think about the connection between different species in nature. Several guests remarked how this trip and the experience with the whales has turned them into marine conservationists and has impressed upon them how important it is to preserve wildlife in the ocean for future generations.

We spent the afternoon sailing to another anchorage near San Carlos and exploring the wide and vast Sand Dollar Beach, which lived up to its name with hundreds of sand dollars all around. It was a lovely leisurely walk from the lagoon across the sand dunes, to the Pacific Ocean, and some of us went swimming and body-surfing even! On our walk back, many of us saw jackrabbit and coyote prints. Wow, can we just stay here for another week, and enjoy the whales and the dunes!

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About the Author

Lida Teneva


Dr. Lida Teneva grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, in Eastern Europe, and wanted to be an explorer from an early age. Today, she is a coral reef scientist, marine conservationist, and educator, with 13 years of experience accumulated in Barbados, Dominican Republic, Australia (Great Barrier Reef), French Polynesia, Palau, the Northern Line Islands (Palmyra Atoll), Hawaii, and Fiji. She has worked on ancient and modern coral reefs, reconstructing past climate change and predicting future changes to reefs. 

About the Photographer

Steve Morello

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Steve Morello has had a long and colorful career in the natural history world. Born in New Jersey he was lucky to be able to summer on the shores of Cape Cod. Whether it was exploring the tidal pools, snorkeling along the beach, or hiking in the dunes, it all came together to instill in him a deep connection to the natural world. It was no surprise that he would return to the Cape as a whale researcher in his adult years. It was on the Cape that Steve first became involved in guiding, and for 15 years acted as naturalist on whale watching boats in the Gulf of Maine. Steve worked with groups creating environmental education material for school programs and soon found another one of his passions, photography.

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