Los Islotes and San Francisco Island

Jan 14, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


Our second full day exploring Mexico’s Sea of Cortez started in a gorgeous way with a beautiful sunrise that painted not only the sky, but the islands and the peninsula of Baja California, with great colors. We thought that it is possibly true that those early Spaniard explorers from the 1500s named this place the “Vermillion Sea” and the “Red Sea” after the impressive sunrises and sunsets here. Shortly afterwards we arrived to Los Islotes, which was our morning destination. Los Islotes is one of three islands that are part of the “Espiritu Santo Island-Complex Biosphere Reserve,” part of the Natural Protected Areas network that Mexico has put together. That reserve is also world-famous for the colony of California sea lions that call Los Islotes home, and being fairly close to the capital city of La Paz, many people visit them. And that’s exactly what we did immediately after breakfast! We got our snorkel gear, donned our wetsuits, and jumped into the water to admire and interact with those awesome creatures. Oh my lord, they are fun! Visiting them underwater is the best way to really appreciate how marvelously adapted they are to the marine realm, and I have to admit that I always get jealous of their swimming and diving capabilities. We also visited them using our Zodiacs and got the chance to observe them from a different perspective as they rested, socialized and vocalized on the rocks.

Once we all had a great time at Los Islotes we parted ways and National Geographic Venture headed north towards another great place, San Francisco Island. There we dropped the anchor at the picturesque and very protected Halfmoon Bay for our afternoon activities, which included a variety of options. Some of us went hiking along the salt flats to learn about halophyte plants, while others decided to go up the hillside to admire the view from top. Others decided to continue with water activities and went kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. And the younger members of our expedition even got the chance to learn how to drive the Zodiacs! All in all, another great day exploring the Sea of Cortez.

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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

About the Videographer

Eric Barnes

Video Chronicler

Eric is a native of Southern California and has been taking pictures for as long as he can remember.  He made a career as a news photographer, working for local and national news agencies.  As a photojournalist, Eric has documented some of the most important news events both nationally and around the world.  He has covered everything from the tsunami in Thailand to the war in Afghanistan and countless other compelling stories.

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